Our day began at the Hardin County Industrial Foundation, a wonderful facility for the focus of the day “Economic Development.” We were welcomed by Dana Garrett, Vice President of United Way and Cheryl Scott of Xerographic Business Systems (XBS) who gave us a brief overview of our day while everyone enjoyed their breakfast. Kenny Rambo, Hardin County Chamber of Commerce Board Chair, was then introduced and began by asking us, “Why would a business come to Hardin County?” As a group, we concluded that business want a community with qualified employees who ready for the jobs they bring, entertainment in the community for their employees, and lastly they look for an area that will provide good “Quality of Life” for their employees personally and professionally. We identified a few improvements and amenities that Hardin County has acquired within the past few years that would look attractive to future businesses such as the Elizabethtown Sports Park, American Legion Water Park, and the growth of downtown Elizabethtown. Another attractive factor for Elizabethtown is that we are centrally located in the state and we have great infostructure and road systems to get us to the larger cities. One advancement that our region has to offer is our education in this area not only do we have Elizabethtown Community & Technical College (ECTC) and Western Kentucky University to help prepare our community we also have Hardin County Schools Early College & Career Center (EC3). This program helps prepare high school students for a career or college, by teaching them skills that prepare them for the workforce in specific areas.
After our discussion on ways Hardin County is attractive to potential businesses and way we can improve, we were then introduced to a panel of Economic Development Leaders from Hardin County. The panel consisted of:
Matt Adams, Hardin County Extension Agent for Ag & Natural Resources
Rick Games, President of Elizabethtown/Hardin County Industrial Foundation
Morris “Mo” Miller, Representative of Lincoln Trail Innovation & Venture Group
Patricia Krausman, Direction of UK Small Business Development Center in Elizabethtown
Sherry Murphy, Director of Elizabethtown Tourism and Convention Center
An hour-long discussion with the panel was directed by various questions from the group, the panel was very informative about the impacts that affect growth in our economy.
After wrapping up with the panel we took a small break for “Group A” to prepare for their presentation on “Primal Leadership.” The group gave a brief summary of the book through a PowerPoint presentation then opened the floor for discussion of leadership in the workplace. A lot of people were taking down suggestions and ideas to take back to their workplaces. While some were finishing up their conversations about the presentation we all began to get into groups to carpool to downtown.
First we arrived at 218 S. Mulberry Street to Elizabethtown’s first microbrewery Flywheel Brewing, where we were greeted by the owners Ashley Willoughby, Aaron Hawkins and Josh Durham who all have roots in Hardin County. We walked into the taproom area which is still under construction but it already looked like an awesome new hangout for downtown Elizabethtown. The taproom is an area where customers can sit at the bar in front of an old truck tailgate and enjoy several craft beers on tap. There was also more intimate seating available where customers can enjoy some conversation and great beer. The taproom will be a place where customers can enjoy board games, participate in trivia nights and enjoy local entertainment. On the other side of the building is where the brew house is located, where all of the production of the craft beer will take place using a four-barrel system. They will also have a viewing deck where customers can watch and see where the magic happens!
After our tour and hearing the owner’s passion and vision for the future of Flywheel we met back in the taproom for a wonderful lunch provided by Hardin County Local Stith Family Farms and Travis Thomas, State Farm Agent. While enjoying grilled pork burgers and brats we were introduced to a few of the people who played a big part in the revitalization of downtown. One of the guests was Kevin Addington, owner of several downtown properties that he has restored and welcomed new attractions to Elizabethtown. Krista Levee, a member of our leadership group and the Executive Director of the Heritage Council. Ryan & Deana Wheeler, who are both are opening businesses downtown. Travis Thomas, State Farm Agent who just relocated to downtown.
As lunch came to an end we began to get into groups for our downtown scavenger hunt. We were given a list of clues about the building and businesses in the downtown area and we were instructed to visit the business and take a picture with your group. We were given anything from “Say cheese when you stop by their window” to “This store is named after a local leader.” The groups had a great time working together to figure out the clues but at 2:00pm we all found our way to the Kentucky Basketball Hall of Fame. We walked in to the sound of a high school gym during a game, pictures of coaches and players and their accomplishments adorned the walls. A video of the history of basketball in Kentucky played while everyone gathered on gym bleachers to watch. The Hall of Fame is a wonderful attraction for downtown Elizabethtown.
We visited several downtown attractions, toured a brewery but coming to the end of the day we went a different direction, agriculture. We traveled to BLT Farms, a local family owned and operated farm in Elizabethtown. Owners Larry and Mark Thomas welcomed us all and gave an overview of the operations on their farm. They raise corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, mixed hay, sweet corn and cattle. Several grain bins surrounded us that would soon be full of harvested crops.
WKU Elizabethtown Fort Knox
610 College Street Rd, RPC Blg 130
Elizabethtown, KY 42701
Lori Ann French
Loan Officer / Branch Manager
West Point Bank
114 N. Walnut St.
Upton, KY 42784