EnergyState guest column by Jim Iacocca
Like many individuals deeply invested in the growth and prosperity of our region, I was both excited and amazed by the findings of the recently-released long-term economic impact study commissioned by the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce, Measuring the Impact of the
BlueOval SK Battery Park on the Elizabethtown Metro Area. The insights this study provides on the future of our region as a result of Kentucky’s single largest economic development announcement are astounding, and the recommendations it outlines to appropriately respond
to this growth are pertinent to all of us.
However, while the forthcoming opening of the BlueOval SK battery park in 2025 and its 5,000 new jobs is monumental to the local economy, it’s worth noting that with over a century of history, Fort Knox will remain the region largest employer. With a workforce exceeding 22,000
individuals, Fort Knox remains the primary contributor to local payrolls and economic impact, boasting an annual payroll of $1.3 billion and an economic footprint totaling $4.8 billion.
At the Knox Regional Development Alliance (KRDA), where I serve as President/CEO, we are committed to protecting and promoting Fort Knox to increase its economic impact on the Greater Fort Knox Region and the state of Kentucky. This mission doesn't detract from our
enthusiasm for celebrating and championing substantial economic investments such as BlueOval SK. In fact, we at KRDA share the same excitement as any other community organization dedicated to economic and community development because as long as it’s managed effectively, such growth only strengthens Fort Knox’s position.
At KRDA, our primary focus revolves around the well-being of the Soldiers and civilian employees who make up the Fort Knox workforce. Though Fort Knox is famous for being highly- secured, it is certainly not an island, and those working at and residing on the Army installation
are integral members of the broader community. Consequently, any growth in the community, including the introduction of new amenities, expanded childcare offerings, public transportation, added housing options, increased healthcare capacity and enhancements in
overall quality of life as a result of large developments such as BlueOval SK, stands as a resounding win for those associated with Fort Knox.
The more economically robust our region becomes, the more leverage we at KRDA have to advocate for new missions and retain existing missions at Fort Knox and expand defense contractor business and presence in the region.
Thanks largely in part to Fort Knox, our region possesses a wealth of experience in welcoming newcomers, which will undoubtedly prove invaluable as new families arrive in our midst courtesy of BlueOval SK. I encourage all of us to make these new residents feel as welcome and
supported as we do for Fort Knox Soldiers and their families.
Now that we have the findings of this study and its recommendations, it is important to aggressively pursue them. It is easy to have paralysis of analysis but the speed with which this economic development is coming does not lend itself to hesitation. In the words of General George Patton, “A good plan violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”
Patton often had to make decisions based on limited information and time, otherwise the enemy might have maneuvered faster and beat him. In this case, we have the information. Our time to act is now and KRDA is committed to doing all it can to support.
To access the entire economic impact study, visit hardinchamber.com/energystate. To learn more about KRDA, visit growknox.org.
Jim Iacocca serves as President/CEO of the Knox Regional Development Alliance. He is the former Adjutant General of the Army, a position he held in the U.S. Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox. He is also a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army and serves as
Chair of the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs.