Source: Greg Thompson, The News-Enterprise
Speculation is circling around Congress about the possibility of another round of Base Realignment and Closure in 2019 or 2020 and a community effort to make sure Fort Knox is considered a vital resource is under development.
“The focus is to market Fort Knox and the region,” retired Maj. Gen. Bill Barron said Tuesday. “If there is another round of BRAC, we will have a positive outcome either way.”
He is part of a new initiative called Knox Regional Development Alliance, which gave members of the Radcliff Small Business Alliance a sneak peek of its plans during the organization’s luncheon Tuesday.
According to Barron, KRDA would replace the CORE Committee, founded in 1991, with a membership of 30 elected officials, business leaders and senior U.S. Army veterans.
While the committee that fought to keep the military installation strong will be replaced, its mission is changing in the same way the Army continues to change, Barron said.
“We can’t do business the same today as in the past,” he said.
Barron told business owners the Army is taking a hard look at how installations are being used and what value each has to offer. Through the Knox alliance, the conditions will be set to assure success for Fort Knox and its surrounding region.
Barron described the three-point initiative of alliance’s mission:
* Advocate to retain existing and attract or recruit new Department of Defense missions. “What missions that are taking place elsewhere can be done better at Fort Knox,” Barron said.
* Implement defense-related new business attraction and existing business retention program.
* Develop more public-to-public and public-to-private partnerships. KRDA will explore more opportunities for governmental agencies and the private sector to partner with Fort Knox in a way to benefit all parties.
Barron gave an example how Nolin RECC worked with the installation to make it possible for Fort Knox to generate its own power and move off the grid.
“(We need to) create partnerships with people outside the gate,” he said.
Daniel Hall, the KRDA campaign director, said a leadership team is in place and that team — along with more information about its plans — will be unveiled at 8 a.m. Thursday morning at a campaign kickoff breakfast at Grace Heartland Church in Elizabethtown.
KRDA is in pursuit of a $2.5 million goal to operate over a five-year period. According to Hall, it already has raised more than $1 million, but he would not give a specific amount as he wanted to save that for the kickoff event.
“This represents amazing progress,” he said.
Hall also made note that, to date, Radcliff is offering the largest public sector support for the initiative.
Barry Saylor, program chairman for RSBA, told members he recently spoke with U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie about the initiative. The congressman told him so many Kentuckians do not realize if the 4,100 jobs at Fort Knox were lost, it would be a worse economic tragedy than the combined closings of UPS and Toyota.
Hall agreed with that statement saying, “This community is a little behind the 8-ball right now.”