KENTUCKY (WEHT) – On Thursday, Governor Andy Beshear and Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman updated Kentuckians on economic development growth, COVID-19, the historic flooding and named this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars.

Economic development in Kentucky

The governor highlighted two economic development projects that he said will create 420 new jobs and represent nearly $1 billion in new investment.

Governor Beshear will join local officials in Christian County and leaders from Ascend Elements Inc. on Thursday for the groundbreaking of the company’s largest operation in the United States. According to a release from the governor’s office, the project is now the largest economic development project announced in western Kentucky and is expected to create as many as 400 full-time jobs. Ascend is a manufacturer of battery materials made from recycled lithium-ion batteries.

On Wednesday, Governor Beshear congratulated Vector Corrosion Technologies as the company cut the ribbon on a new operation in Lexington, creating as many as 20 full-time jobs with more than $1 million investment. Vector Corrosion Technologies provides corrosion mitigation products and services.

Governor Beshear congratulated several eastern Kentucky communities for receiving more than $9.9 million in Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) funds to support 11 projects expected to create more than 600 jobs, generate over $40 million in private investment and support Appalachian businesses.

Workforce participation initiative

Governor Beshear announced a new initiative to boost workforce participation by improving health coverage in dental, vision and hearing.

According to the governor, the state has set record low unemployment rates this year, holding at or below 3.9% since April, and led the nation in job growth for August. Governor Beshear said his administration is working to reach those who left the workforce due to factors like incarceration, addiction, lack of access to childcare or poor health.

“Today’s announcement is focused on improving health to get people back in the workforce by removing the roadblocks for many Kentuckians in accessing dental, vision and hearing care,” said Beshear. “We know that when people cannot see or hear well, or have poor oral health, it hinders their ability to seek and maintain a job.”

A release from the governor’s office says the initiative will use federal dollars to reach more than 900,000 enrolled in the state Medicaid program.

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KMCA 70th anniversary proclamation

The governor signed a proclamation recognizing the 70th anniversary of Kentucky Magistrates & Commissioners Association.

KMCA was formed in 1952 to serve as the unified voice for all of Kentucky’s fiscal courts. KMCA board members David Livingston, Roger Deckard, Michael Logsdon, Stevie Givens, Gary Morgan and Mark Bates attended the proclamation signing as well as KMCA staff leadership including J.C. Young and Lauren Germond.

“As Governor, I’ve seen the strength and determination of local leaders as they work tirelessly for their communities,” said Governor Beshear. “I’ve seen it as our state has faced crisis after crisis … and just as important, I’ve seen it as we build a brighter future with more opportunities than ever before.”

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Lt. Governor Coleman said that on Monday, Governor Beshear signed a proclamation declaring October Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Kentucky. According to a release from the governor, more than 45% of women and 35% of men in Kentucky experience intimate partner physical violence or rape in their lifetimes.

“This month, and every month, we must recommit to protecting our fellow Kentuckians and standing with survivors of these unspeakable acts,” Lt. Governor Coleman said. “Let’s lead with the courage that survivors show every day and prove that Kentucky does not tolerate domestic violence.”

According to a release from the governor’s office, more than $96 million in grant funding has been awarded to provide victim services throughout Kentucky. In April, Governor Beshear signed Senate Bill 271, which requires the commonwealth to produce an annual report on domestic violence-related data.

National Crime Prevention Month

Lt. Governor Coleman also highlighted that October is National Crime Prevention Month and encouraged Kentuckians to reflect on the work of public safety officers serving their communities. The lieutenant governor highlighted the administration’s efforts in preventing crime since taking office.

“We have provided grant money to organizations and communities to purchase equipment and hire additional personnel,” Lt. Governor Coleman said. “We have expanded access to resources to improve the safety of our peace officers while they are on the job – like with body cameras for the first time in history for the state police. We increased the training stipend for officers – ensuring that they not only receive some of the best training in the nation but can provide for their family.”

Eastern Kentucky flood update

Beshear said $79.1 million in grants have been approved under the Federal Emergency Management Agency Individuals and Households Program for 8,157 households. A release from the governor’s office said over $53.7 million has been approved under the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is October 28.

The governor said Kentucky State Parks are currently housing 263 people. Since last Thursday, 13 individuals have transitioned out of state parks. Currently, 526 individuals are being housed in 200 travel trailers.

The Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund has raised over $10.5 million from more than 37,000 donors. The governor thanked Domtar Paper for donating $50,000 to the fund. To contribute to the relief fund, click here.

Tips to save during winter

During the update, Lt. Governor Coleman said there are free resources available to Kentuckians to help reduce the cost of utilities ahead of the winter season.

Coleman recommended that Kentuckians connect with their local community action network and apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Kentuckians are also able to contact their utility provider to see if they are offering financial assistance on bills.

For more information on energy affordability, visit the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s energy affordability page here.

COVID-19 update

Governor Beshear said the most recent COVID-19 data is encouraging, with the number of new cases reported each week continuing to decline, fewer Kentuckians hospitalized for COVID-19 than at nearly any point during the past two years, and more counties showing as green on the COVID-19 community levels map.

The governor and the Kentucky Department for Public Health continue to recommend that people get boosted with the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine this fall.

Team Kentucky All-Stars

Lt. Governor Coleman announced that Governor Beshear and First Lady Britainy Beshear will light the mansion gold on Thursday night to celebrate Lights on Afterschool. The lieutenant governor also named staff and volunteers for Kentucky’s afterschool programs as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars.

“I want to thank the dedicated teachers, school staff and volunteers who make this possible,” said Lt. Gov. Coleman. “As a former teacher and coach, I know it takes a lot of work. But when you see the smiles on the kids’ faces and have that comfort of knowing they are safe, it’s all worth it. Thank you for taking care of our kids and for keeping our workforce strong.”