Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Patton seeks investment for eastern Ky.

The Associated Press

        PRESTONSBURG, Ky. — Gov. Paul Patton said he will make an out-of-state trip every other month to try to attract investment into eastern Kentucky and improve the image of his native region.

        “We have to break down the stereotype that there is a lack of education and sophistication in eastern Kentucky,” Mr. Patton said after speaking to regional business and political leaders Monday. “It's the "Li'l Abner' syndrome.”

        Mr. Patton has visited Chicago and Detroit in the past six months to meet with potential investors and will lead a delegation to New York City later this month.

        Mr. Patton, a former coal operator from Pike County, praised the region's economic progress in his speech Monday but said more work is needed. He pledged to make the region's economic development a top priority.

        The governor used the meeting of the East Kentucky Corp. to debut a 15-minute video — “Eastern Kentucky: The New Appalachia” — that was written and produced by Mr. Patton.

        The video opens with a message to business executives unfamiliar with or misinformed about Kentucky mountain life, noting that people living in Appalachia are “well housed, well clothed, and well educated.”

        The video said new jobs have to be created in eastern Kentucky to offset the automation of the coal and timber industries, the traditional engines of the region's economy. The video said 67,000 adults living in Kentucky's 21 Appalachian counties are either unemployed or underemployed, but it plays down the region's poverty as “pockets of poverty like in any metropolitan area.”

        Pamela Trautner, a spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Economic Development, said the video was sent in December to 350 Fortune 500 companies.

        An additional 25 videos were mailed to high-tech call centers, a type of business that eastern Kentucky has successfully courted in recent years.

        “The video will be a major tool in recruiting new businesses,” said A.V. Rash of American Electric Power, former chairman of the East Kentucky Corp., a group committed to improving economic opportunities in 45 counties in the eastern part of the state.


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