MOREHEAD, Ky. (March 30, 2015) – How important is the aviation/aerospace industry to Kentucky’s economy? Thanks to action by Gov. Steve Beshear and the Kentucky Legislature, the question will soon be answered.
House Joint Resolution 100, sponsored by Majority Floor Leader Rep. Rocky Adkins, of Sandy Hook, and Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, of Lexington, directs the Cabinet for Economic Development, the Transportation Cabinet and the Commission on Military Affairs to cooperatively study the economic impact of the aerospace/aviation industry in the Commonwealth. It also tasks the cabinets with identifying opportunities to boost the industry and create more jobs.
Gov. Beshear signed the measure at Morehead State University’s Space Science Center.
“The aviation/aerospace industry plays a significant role in Kentucky’s economy,” said Gov. Beshear. “We need to create more public awareness of this thriving industry, as well as more education and training opportunities for employment in this field. These efforts will help ensure that Kentucky develops and maintains the best workforce for aerospace, aviation and manufacturing companies seeking to locate or expand here.”
Last year, the Commonwealth exported $7.8 billion in aerospace parts and products, making it the state’s largest export. Kentucky also is home to some of the top aerospace programs in the nation. Of the 98 high schools across the United States that teach aerospace and aviation skills, 25 are in Kentucky.
“This resolution enables a study of the aerospace and aviation manufacturing industry, which is the leading export industry in the Commonwealth,” said Rep. Adkins. “It’s essential that we identify ways we can continue to develop this new economy for Kentucky, and especially Eastern Kentucky, with its high-skilled, high-paying jobs. The strength of this industry has created a need for greater public awareness of this thriving industry, as well as more training opportunities for employment through educational institutions such as the Space Science Center at Morehead State University and Eastern Kentucky University.”
As part of their involvement, the Cabinet for Economic Development and Commission on Military Affairs will study the following:
- The number and location of aerospace/aviation-related products manufacturing facilities in the state and the number of Kentuckians currently employed by these companies.
- The unique needs of those manufacturers and opportunities for state and local government agencies to assist with meeting those needs.
- The status and impact of aviation/aerospace educational and workforce training programs currently available and how they can be improved.
- Opportunities for further growth and development of the industry.
- Military assets and infrastructure existing in the Commonwealth that may contribute to the growth and development of the commercial unmanned aerial systems industry and other sectors of the aerospace/aviation industry, including recommendations on how Kentucky can capitalize on the presence of Fort Campbell and Fort Knox to support further development.
For its part, the Transportation Cabinet will study the general aviation airport system in the Commonwealth, examining various aspects of the general aviation airport network, including:
- Inventorying and categorizing the existing facilities and infrastructure and providing suggestions for improvements to ensure that Kentucky's general aviation airports are safe, well-maintained and efficient.
- Documenting the contribution of the state’s network of general aviation airports to the overall well-being of all Kentuckians, in terms of the number of airports and their impact on emergency medical transportation and disaster relief.
- Quantifying the direct economic impact general aviation airports have on their respective communities across the Commonwealth.
“We see several areas of our economy where Kentucky could potentially benefit from the presence of Unmanned Aerial System’s (UAS) technology, including agriculture, public safety and third-party logistics,” said retired Col. David Thompson, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs. “It is important that we understand completely the existing assets and infrastructure, both military and non-military that can be leveraged here in the Commonwealth to advance this promising technology. This as an opportunity to also expand upon the efforts of our higher institutions of learning, and create strong demand within Kentucky for engineering graduates seeking career opportunities in this developing industry.”