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Kentucky New Era

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Alliance aims to promote projects in legislature

Multi-million dollar building at HCC tops list

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Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2011 12:01 am | Updated: 6:19 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

The Southern Pennyrile Chamber Alliance announced on Wednesday six projects and initiatives aimed at increasing business, tourism and employment throughout Todd, Trigg and Christian counties.

The group, made up of the Christian County Chamber of Commerce, Trigg County Chamber of Commerce and Todd County Community Alliance, will attempt to promote the projects at the state level in a unified effort.

With three counties lobbying for the same projects, legislators will see that it’s “not just one county or a pet project,” said Hopkinsville Community College President Jim Selbe. “That’s what we’re going for and that’s what we want.”

Of the six “advocacy projects,” the top priority is to create an allied health and science program at HCC. Only two community colleges in Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee are devoid of an allied health program, Selbe said. Consequently, creating an allied health program at HCC is the No. 2 priority of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Selbe said.

The alliance is seeking $28 million for the building that would house the new program. The program would seek to train people in the growing medical field, leading to high-paying jobs, according to an alliance news release.

The multi-million dollar building is not the focus of the project. Instead, the building would be a “tool” to “empower” people in the Pennyrile region while providing “good jobs,” Selbe said. “That’s why we need the building: to help people succeed.”

Priority No. 2 on the project list is to advocate for keeping the Barkley Bridges on the state’s six-year road plan. The project is federally funded at $300 million and is critical for solving “long-term transportation and safety concerns” for tourists visiting Land Between the Lakes.

Other priorities on the alliances’ list include the creation of a $2.5 million training facility in Todd County, increasing the speed limit on U.S.  68, a new $30-million Murray State University Breathitt Veterinary Center and the completion of the U.S. 68 bypass in northeast Christian County.

The alliance is looking to pay for the projects through a plethora of grants, federal and state funding, in addition to other sources.

Funding for each project is currently being sought by the three counties, and some projects are already under way, Selbe said.

Currently, with the absence of the training facility in Todd County, training sessions are already taking place in the back room of Mike’s Barbecue in Guthrie, Selbe said.

In addition, the training facility would prepare people for jobs in “fields of future growth,” and with the Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation, the release stated.

The new veterinary center would replace the current veterinary center on North Drive and would be a state-of-the-art laboratory, with the capacity to diagnose animal diseases and assist in the areas of agriculture, homeland security and public health arenas, according to the release.

During the announcement, Judge-Executive Darryl Greenfield represented Todd County, Judge-Executive Stan Humphries represented Trigg County and Chamber President Carter Hendricks represented Christian County.

Selbe serves as a facilitator on the initiative. The combined efforts of the three communities would create a stronger possibility of funding and completing the projects, Hendricks said.

The alliance is made up of a group of about 18 people who were elected to the committees in their regions. From there, the group presented proposals based on regional issues that led to the six advocacy projects chosen by the initiative. Each project will have an impact on all three counties, Selbe said.

While the initiative is in its beginning stages and only includes the three counties, Selbe said the alliance would welcome other interested counties.

REACH BENJAMIN JOUBERT at 270-887-3240 or bjoubert@kentuckynewera.com.

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