Source: Louisville Business First
Interim president/CEO, Knox Regional Development Alliance Inc. (KRDA)
Years in current job: 14
Years in economic development: 14
Tell us about the biggest economic development win for your agency.
The Knox Regional Development Alliance is a newly established organization with a mission to promote Fort Knox as a premiere military installation that is ideal for new Department of Defense missions and a catalyst for business development off-post. It replaces an earlier organization known as the CORE Committee in existence since 1991. Our successful 2016 capital campaign has been our biggest win. In eight short months, private- and public-sector leaders committed $2.5 million over the next five years.
What can the region do better to market our area for economic development?
KRDA will undertake a proactive integrated marketing effort to showcase Fort Knox and the surrounding region. We want to make sure leaders at the Pentagon know and understand what a valuable installation they have and how it is well suited for growth. Fort Knox’s capacity for growth, world-class ranges, training areas and fully instrumented airfield are among the many aspects we will tout. We will also market to public- and private-sector leaders who are looking for business development opportunities and unique workforce development partnerships. Fort Knox has been our region’s best kept secret for too long.
What are some benefits and drawbacks of public-private partnerships?
Research shows that public-private partnerships are often more cost-effective and result in a higher return on investment. KRDA wants to broker these conversations with our Army partners at Fort Knox and consider all that is possible. From energy independence to cyber security to talent and leadership development, Fort Knox is leading the way. It behooves us to leverage this incredible source of knowledge that is right here in our backyard to the benefit of Fort Knox and our region, not to mention more broadly all tax payers and our military.
What’s the most useful tool in your toolkit to encourage economic development?
Our greatest economic development tool is Fort Knox. An installation of this caliber, with the assets it has cannot be overlooked. In years past we have had a marginally funded effort with a part-time staff but with a well-funded full time operation dedicated to this work, we are confident that we can attract new missions and new business opportunities for the Region. Finding the right leader for KRDA is also critical to our success. An executive search is underway with support from the Oliver Group. We are considering several exceptional candidates to lead KRDA.
What areas of the city are ripe for economic development?
The low cost of doing business makes our region an ideal location for defense contractors to grow their presence and be in proximity to a premiere military installation. Fort Knox lets over $250 million in federal contracts annually. Only a small percentage of those are awarded to local businesses. KRDA wants to change that by helping local businesses navigate the world of federal contracting. Fort Knox is synonymous with innovation, whether it is energy independence, human capital management or big data. KRDA will serve as a conduit for entrepreneurs seeking opportunities related to the innovative work happening at Fort Knox.