"Hendricks for South Western Kentucky" doesn't have quite the same ring to it as "Hendricks for Hoptown," but it is evident that naming Hopkinsville's mayor the new executive director of the regional economic development council could benefit all three counties the organization serves.
Just look at what Hendricks' leadership (with the buy-in and help of Hopkinsville City Council) did for Hoptown in the span of four years: there's been greenway expansion, additional city parks and sidewalks and the construction of the Planters Bank-Jennie Stuart Sportsplex of Hopkinsville, to name a few. Not to mention the number of businesses that are returning to and reinvesting in Hopkinsville's downtown district, this newspaper included.
These were all part of his Hoptown WINS capital projects initiative -- which came with a $14.5 million price tag by the way --- but enhanced the look, feel and functionality of the city nonetheless.
Research shows that quality-of-life and economic development have a symbiotic relationship. Without investments that attract industries and families to set roots here, Hopkinsville will see minimal growth.
Hendricks' passion for his hometown was evident as soon as he hit the campaign trail in 2013, and once he was elected, his vision for making Hopkinsville attractive to economic development oozed throughout the city.
Of course, the timing is not optimal as the city will lose its elected mayor prior to his term expiring and looming pension responsibilities and budget cuts are on the horizon for whoever is next. And, yes, voters reelected Hendricks to continue forging this town ahead, but Hendricks at the helm of regional economic development is a good move, not just for him and his family, but the region.
He comes from a business background and has invaluable experience with the business community and economic development, having served as chief executive of the local chamber for a number of years.
Timing is what it is, but a process does exist to fill his unexpired term. Let's trust the process and the leadership of the council on that matter. Furthermore, the electorate has a direct line to its leadership and can and should reach out to provide input and make their voices heard as we move forward through this process.
While the mayor's position is undoubtedly very important, none of those projects could have been accomplished if city council had not backed his plan with their votes, and we trust that whoever the council members appoint as interim mayor and whoever is elected in November to finish out the term will be able to either corral the same support for new or continued plans, and the council will continue to be the voice of the people they represent.
Now, Hendricks needs to make his vision plain on the regional level with the South Western Kentucky Economic Development Council.
In just the last year, the regional EDC has faced some hiccups, losing the city of Cadiz as a member and now its former director.
If Hendricks can formulate a regional economic development plan and get buy-in from the communities, businesses and industries his new organization serves, we can only imagine the growth the region could experience in the next five years.
With Hendricks at the helm in a new arena, we can't wait to see how not only Hoptown wins but southwestern Kentucky as a whole.