Talking Economic Development with Governor Beshear

NGA’s Economic Development and Revitalization Task Force, Co-Chaired by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, has jurisdiction over a broad range of issue areas, including infrastructure, broadband, state stabilization, energy, environment, land management and taxes.

During the 2024 NGA Winter Meeting this week, Governor Beshear and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon will lead a Task Force session focused on the historic formula and competitive funding states and territories are beginning to receive through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and the CHIPS and Science Act. As Governors work to implement these new and expanded programs, they are considering ways to build and reskill the American workforce to meet the current opportunity. This session will explore some of the creative solutions Governors are leading to increase workforce in emerging sectors while fostering collaboration between the private and public sectors.

Governor Beshear recently shared insights into the work the Task Force is leading, including details about the upcoming session.

What innovative strategies have you championed to strengthen workforce development and attract long-term economic investment into your state, especially in emerging sectors?

Governor Beshear: In Kentucky, we’re focused on meeting the needs of our local businesses and employers, which has allowed innovative practices to take shape in high-demand and emerging sectors. For example, manufacturing and its many subsectors, including automotive, aerospace, plastics, metals, and of course, bourbon, have continued to grow alongside utilization of workforce development programming connected to long-term career pathways and sector strategies.

One example is an innovative model that seeks to attract investment to rural Appalachia, called the East Kentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute (eKAMI). eKAMI provides five-month intensive introductory training courses in robotics, Computerized Numerical Controls, machine tooling, and other advanced manufacturing concepts to Kentuckians of all ages and backgrounds. Close to 300 individuals have graduated from the program and springboarded into in-demand jobs with the foundational skills that will allow them to grow. The eKAMI model provides hope, opportunity, and lifelong learning to Kentuckians while shaping the region’s workforce to attract economic development investment.

How can Governors work with the private sector and their State Workforce Boards to build the workforce needed to implement large federal investments like the IIJA, IRA and CHIPS and Science Act? How has your state/territory considered emerging sectors in the drafting of your 2024 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) State Plan?

Governor Beshear: These historic packages are providing once-in-a-generation opportunities for enhanced collaboration between Governors, the federal government, employers, and community-based organizations to better serve our people. Governors are collaborating with partners to secure, mix, and match available federal resources to help skill-up the emerging workforce and retrain the current workforce, in areas such as digital skills and artificial intelligence. In Kentucky, a focus on strengthening foundational skills in advanced manufacturing is giving our people the ability to enter any of the growing subsectors, whether it is manufacturing, healthcare, construction, business, Information Technology, or transportation/logistics.

Can you please share how you think the NGA Winter Meeting helps further bipartisan policy solutions?

Governor Beshear: The NGA Winter Meeting will bring together our nation’s Governors with state, local, and federal officials, community leaders, and partners, to seek bipartisan solutions that will help build a brighter future for our children. In Kentucky, we want to create a workforce ecosystem that is continuously improving and responding to the needs of our people, businesses, and communities. The NGA Winter Meeting is an opportunity to further this important work.