Another shining example of government working with the private sector to make marked improvements is in downtown Owensboro, along the banks of the Ohio River. Local leaders worked with private industry to develop a strategic plan for the area and increased a local tax to help generate funding for public improvements.
In eight years, the city’s downtown has undergone a $1.5 billion transformation, adding numerous amenities such as a $48 million publicly financed convention center attached by skyway to a $20 million privately financed hotel. A second hotel also was built nearby. These facilities sit alongside a revitalized river walk, and construction is underway nearby on an International Bluegrass Music Museum – a tourist attraction scheduled to open next year.
Local leaders have credited the revitalization effort with helping draw a major employer to the community. California-based Alorica plans to open an 830-job customer engagement center in a former bank building within blocks of the riverfront.
“This announcement today is an absolutely perfect fit for the vision we had when we designed the downtown development,” Owensboro Mayor Mike Payne said last year. “For a company of this size, with over 150 locations and 92,000 employees throughout the world, to locate in downtown Owensboro is wonderful. This is the reason we invested in our downtown.”
State Fuel testing Lab
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce pointed to the development of the state fuel testing lab as a model for how public-private partnerships can work.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture turned over operations and responsibility for operating the lab to a private firm. The company, Core Laboratories of Deer Park, Texas, is able to conduct fuel tests for about a third of the cost of operating the state lab. Saving to taxpayers is estimated by the Department of Agriculture to be nearly $600,000 a year.
For P3 to work at a local level, leaders will need to prioritize community needs and seek partners who have the expertise and creativity to develop solutions that benefit citizens and private partners. The P3 legislation created a process that is transparent and allows communities to consider P3 opportunities without significant risk to taxpayer dollars.
In coming months and years, I expect more local leaders to consider P3 as a potential solution to the state’s infrastructure challenges. It’s not the only financing tool available, but it’s worth considering when more traditional solutions haven’t worked.
P3 Kentucky was created to educate and connect, so if you have a question about where to go next, feel free to reach out: (502) 544-2917 or firstname.lastname@example.org.