Guest column by Luke Schmidt
Since I founded the Louisville-based consulting firm L.B. Schmidt & Associates in 2004, I have had the pleasure of successfully developing, implementing and managing economic development, public affairs and strategic planning projects for clients from across the United States and Europe. While every project has held its own unique merits, among the most personally gratifying is a recent endeavor. Although I live in Louisville, this particular project was distinctly rewarding, as it focuses on a place of personal significance: my home community of Hardin County. Last year, my firm was commissioned by the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce and many supporting businesses to conduct a long-term economic impact study of the region to better understand potential growth related to the establishment of BlueOval SK. I was pleased to present key findings from the study earlier this month during the Chamber’s monthly Membership Luncheon. Although the facts and insights presented during the event were
concise enough for a podium delivery, the comprehensive study itself, expected to be accessible on the Chamber’s website upon its finalization, spans over 200 pages.
To understand the full scope of the regional growth surrounding BlueOval SK, it was important to consider a long list of factors that would be affected by the development, from the regional populace and its demographic composition, to the necessity for additional housing units, to the surge in demand for enhanced healthcare and educational resources, and much more. In developing the study, we worked closely with Paul Coomes, Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Louisville.
Bringing thousands of new jobs, thousands of new residents and hundreds of millions of dollars in new annual payroll, BlueOval SK will truly be like nothing else in Kentucky, and it is poised to place this region on the world’s stage. Though the data and projections from this study reflect an impressive volume of growth in the region, it’s worth acknowledging that Hardin County has a long history of embracing economic expansion. Personally, I am proud to be part of a lineage that helped accelerate industrial
development in the region, having once served on the board of directors of the Elizabethtown Industrial Foundation (now known as the Elizabethtown – Hardin County Industrial Foundation) while working for my family’s business.
During my time with the Foundation, I chaired the Marketing Committee and spearheaded the Foundation;s first-ever marketing campaign. This was a crucial time for the Foundation, as we assisted the community in navigating foreign investment from Japanese auto suppliers, shaping the tenor of the internationally-diverse industrial sector we see in the region today. Today, I continue to serve the Hardin County region as Treasurer for the Knox Regional Development Alliance (KRDA) Board of Directors. When I think about the mission of KRDA, which is to protect and promote Fort Knox to increase its economic impact on the Greater Fort Knox Region and the state of Kentucky, it reminds me of the remarkable capacity of our region to embrace extensive economic growth. The population upsurge and developmental progress resulting from new commands at Fort Knox over the years unequivocally affirm this potential. Though I am a Hardin County native, the Hardin County I grew up in is not the same as it is now, and undoubtedly, the forthcoming years will usher in a Hardin County quite distinct from what we know today. But it is my hope that businesses and organizations within the Hardin County area find my firm’s study useful and are able to harness its insights to grow in tandem with the evolving region. Looking forward, it is imperative that community leaders rally together and make certain that Hardin County can ride the economic wave that is BlueOval SK the very best we can.
Hardin County native Luke Schmidt is the President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, a full-service, international consulting firm located in Louisville.
Full article ran in the News-Enterprise on August 21, 2023