By Ed Green
P3 Kentucky Editor
Leaders in the Bevin Administration continue to promote the idea of using public-private partnerships to advance some public projects in Kentucky. The latest to speak up was Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Terry Gill.
For an article published by Louisville Business First, Gill was asked to outline some of the benefits and drawbacks of using P3s. His answer highlights what seems to be the general consensus among state officials — industry can be considered part of the solution to meeting public needs.
Partnerships are vital. Business and governments must work hand-in-hand as partners and not as adversaries. The Gov. Matt Bevin administration has been doing an incredible job at strengthening these partnerships. The new P3 legislation will open many doors for progress in Kentucky. Government does not have the needed money or the innovation to have all the answers. With public-private partnerships, we can pull together the best practices and resources to move our commonwealth forward.
— Terry Gill Jr.
Gill’s response is consistent with what he told me in April when we talked at the Kentucky Association for Economic Development Spring Conference in Owensboro. Gill said the state has already seen numerous cases where the public sector brings important expertise and funding for public projects.
Gill noted that the state Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development awarded $65.5 million in grants earlier this year as part of its Work Ready Skills Initiative. That funding leveraged more than $85 million in matching funds, including funding from private partners, Gill said.
Leaders in the Transportation and Tourism cabinets also have discussed the potential use of P3s to support public infrastructure.
Kentucky Transportation Sec. Greg Thomas recently told members of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s P3 Work Group that he had met with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to discuss federal funding and believes federal participation in state projects will depend on use of “creative financing.”
So, Thomas said, Kentucky’s recent passage of legislation to enable P3s for transportation projects,” is good news as far as that’s concerned.”
And Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Don Parkinson remains a strong advocate for P3 use to support the state’s parks system and $13 billion tourism industry, as P3 Kentucky recently reported.
At the state level, all signs point to strong support for the P3 model. It appears state leaders recognize and welcome businesses being part of the solution to some of the state’s challenges.