Chamber hears jobs update

Published 11:39 am Monday, March 19, 2018

The Harlan County Chamber of Commerce invited Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley to a recent meeting to update the members on activities in the county.

Mosley addressed the chamber about what local government is doing for economic development in Harlan County.

“Local government is the people you see on a daily basis,” Mosley said. “They’re addressing the problems that really mean the most to you and whether it’s city or county government, you get more bang for your buck than you do out of any form of government.”

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Local government accomplishes many things by partnering with organization such as the Chamber of Commerce, Mosley said.

“At the local level, we’re very proud of what we’ve been able to get done in tough financial times,” Mosley said. “Coal severance numbers continue to plummet. Last quarter, Harlan County received the smallest coal severance check in the history of Harlan County. A lot of people thought it would come back in a big way, it has not. We need it to come back at least some.”

Mosley explained the county has changed the way they budget to deal with the financial downturn.

“We turn more money toward economic development projects,” Mosley said. “As a result, we’ve seen the creation of 375 new jobs in our county over the last two years.”

Those jobs are in multiple areas.

“Some of the jobs are in the digital economy, some of them are with JRL Coal which opened up here, and now they’ve leased a building from us and are doing machine rebuilds and even manufacturing some mining parts,” Mosley said. “It’s been a very productive relationship for us. They’ve leased a building at Putney and have hired approximately 120 people as a result.”

Mosley added more jobs are on the horizon because of a certified build-ready site in progress in Cumberland.

“It’s a 10-acre site that will have all the necessary permitting done to house up to 100,000 square foot facility,” Mosley explained. “We also have recently been certified as a work ready community in progress by the Workforce Development Cabinet. That’s a process that took nearly two years to complete, and we’re now working toward our Work Ready Community designation.”

Mosley also talked about some activity in Frankfort.

“Pension reform is all you hear about,” Mosley said. “Our employees are concerned about it, teachers are concerned, and they should be. The proposed solution certainly could have an adverse impact on a lot of people. I’ll say with confidence that I don’t think any of our legislators are going to vote for that proposal (Senate bill 1).”

Mosley said he has heard many opinions regarding the pension issue.

“When you went to work for state or county government, you were guaranteed an inviolable contract,” Mosley said. “You are entitled to those benefits. You did not have anything to do with the legislature not funding that as they should years ago, and you didn’t have anything to do with them taking funds out of it to fund pet projects over the course of time. People are entitled to the benefits they were promised when they started.”

Mosley said Senate Bill 1 is not as bad as the original proposition, but still needs more work.