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Citizens Speak ... Leaders Respond


Chamber coordinates unprecedented push for tech center funding

Technology CenterDuring the recent Kentucky General Assembly, the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce mounted an unprecedented advocacy effort to secure $14 million to construct phase two of the $27 million Advanced Technology Center on the campus of Owensboro Community and Technical College.

Launched at the Chamber’s February 2 Rooster Booster breakfast, the “3-2-1” campaign (third largest city, phase two, number one priority) generated 15,000 emails to Gov. Ernie Fletcher and state legislators, plus numerous letters and phone calls. Personalized letters and campaign buttons were sent to legislators and later to members of the House-Senate Conference Committee. Another 60 local project advocates attended a special western Kentucky reception in Frankfort on February 9.

Ranked as the number one state legislative priority of the Chamber, Economic Development Corporation, city and county government, the tech center will include up-to-date training facilities, business incubator, administrative offices and classrooms for Western Kentucky University – Owensboro and more.

In the 2006 session, tech center funding was included in the House of Representatives budget, omitted in the Senate version, and placed back in the budget during the House-Senate Conference Committee.

Gov. Fletcher vetoes the project

On April 24, Gov. Fletcher announced that he cut $370 million from the state budget, including a line-item veto of the Owensboro Advanced Technology Center.

More than 2,000 projects had been proposed in a budget that included $2.38 billion in new debt.

“The right dose (of projects) can give us energy, but too much can cause irreparable harm… We tried to make it balanced…It’s not no. It’s just not yet,” Fletcher said.

Higher education projects that were funded include:
State Universities
Eastern Kentucky University Science/Education Buildings $58 million
Kentucky State University Hall Renovation 5 million
Morehead State University Health/Science Centers 26 million
Murray State University Science Complex 15 million
Murray State University Residential Hall 13 million
Northern Kentucky University Center for Infomatics 35 million
Northern Kentucky University Student Union /Parking Garage 33 million
University of Kentucky Biological/Pharmaceutical Complex 80 million
University of Kentucky Hospital Building 150 million
University of Louisville Health Sciences Center 70 million
University of Louisville Center for Predictive Medicine 13 million
Western Kentucky University Education Building 35 million
Western Kentucky University Academic/Athletic Renovation 25 million
Community and Technical Colleges
Gateway Advanced Manufacturing Tech Center 28 million
West Kentucky Emerging Technology Center 16 million
Somerset Allied Health/Technical Building 14 million
Jefferson County Science/Allied Health Building 26 million
Ashland Tech Drive Campus – Phase III 18 million
Elizabethtown Regional Postsecondary Education Center 20 million
Bluegrass Advanced Manufacturing Center 1 million
Maysville Administrative Building 5 million
Springfield Community and Technical College* 14 million
McCreary Center 6 million
Other funded projects include:  
College of the Cumberland Pharmacy School 11 million
Kentucky Horse Park Arena 36 million
Louisville Arena 75 million

*The new Springfield Community and Technical College was not included in either the House or Senate budget. It was added during closed Conference Committee negotiations.

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