UPDATE: Tourism project to bring jobs, horse racing, entertainment to Southeast Kentucky

Cumberland Mint facility to bring 180 full-time and more than 50 part-time jobs to Corbin-Williamsburg community

UPDATE POSTED 1:45 P.M. TUESDAY, OCT. 19, 2021

CORBIN, WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear joined community leaders to celebrate the official groundbreaking of a new horse racing facility that is projected to create 213 full-time jobs for the Corbin-Williamsburg community.

“Kentucky is the undisputed horse capital of the world, with a long and rich history here in the commonwealth. Today’s announcement shows the best days for horse racing and tourism in our state are still ahead of us,” Beshear said. “Cumberland Mint is bringing expanded investment and jobs to Southeastern Kentucky, ensuring that the amazing economic momentum we are seeing is reaching every corner of our commonwealth.”

Expanding the commonwealth’s iconic horse racing industry to Southeastern Kentucky, the joint venture between Keeneland and Kentucky Downs – ECL Corbin LLC – unveiled plans for a new horse racing, gaming and entertainment facility in the Williamsburg community. The new project, Cumberland Mint, represents a $90 million investment into the commonwealth’s booming tourism and horse racing economy.

“We are thrilled to continue our investment in the commonwealth and build off the model at Kentucky Downs to grow the racing product for all breeds, and we are appreciative of the community embracing this project and look forward to the positive impact to the region,” said ECL Corbin LLC partner Ron Winchell.

The new Cumberland Mint racing facility will feature two different locations in Southeastern Kentucky, approximately 15 miles apart. The Williamsburg facility will be located 13 miles from the Tennessee border, allowing for frequent visitation from out-of-state travelers. The facility in Corbin will break ground later this year.

As part of the commonwealth’s ongoing effort to support tourism in Kentucky, the company has requested a tax incentive package totaling $27 million. Through the Tourism Development Act, eligible Kentucky businesses can receive an annual reimbursement for taxes paid on qualifying tourism development projects. The new facility will enhance the community’s tourism industry and offer new job opportunities for Kentuckians.

Sen. Robert Stivers, who represents the district, attended the groundbreaking to welcome the new horse racing facility to the Corbin-Williamsburg community.

The project represents a joint venture between Kentucky Downs and Keeneland. The $90 million investment project will ensure the commonwealth’s legendary horse racing industry generates economic value for the local community.

“Keeneland continues to fulfill its mission to strengthen Kentucky’s vital horse industry and to positively impact the commonwealth and those communities in which we operate,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “Along with our partners at Kentucky Downs, we are excited to make this project a reality – one that will generate significant economic growth, enhance tourism and create new jobs for the region. Our thanks to Gov. Beshear and Sen. Stivers, along with local leadership, for their strong support of horse racing.”

Tourism is an $8.9 billion industry in Kentucky. Together, Knox and Whitley counties generated an economic impact of more than $102 million for their communities in 2020. The commonwealth has approved seven tourism development projects totaling $7.4 billion in investment in 2021.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 2 P.M. MONDAY, OCT. 18, 2021

CORBIN, WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (WTVQ) – New race tracks and gambling parlors in Corbin and Williamsburg cleared another hurdle Monday.

The state’s Tourism Development Finance Authority gave final approval to $23.5 million in state tax incentives for a partnership between the owners of Kentucky Downs in South Central Kentucky and Keeneland in Lexington. The group plans to build  a new track for standardbred racing on 150 acres at the Corbin Bypass and Allison Boulevard. It also would have a historical horse racing betting parlor

A satellite historical horse racing parlor will be built off I-75 at Exit 11 in Williamsburg to raise money for purses at the Corbin track. That’s near the popular splash park there and just 11 miles for the Tennessee state line. Groundbreaking for the Williamsburg facility is set Tuesday afternoon.

Gaming parlors in the state not only raise tax revenue for the state and to fund their own operations but also to increase purses at racetracks. Being able to increase purses is the key to attracting better horses and races to the state and thus more tourist dollars and jobs, experts argue.

Officials said Monday the facilities could be operating by next fall. Corbin already had races under its name at Red Mile in Lexington this summer. Those races only enhanced the interest among harness-racing  enthusiasts for another standardbred track.

According to previously announced plans, the Corbin facility would have about 100 HHR machines and the Williamsburg location would be larger with about 400 machines. Hotels and restaurants are expected to be part of the developments.

As many as 300 jobs are projected once they are completed and fully operational.

Kentucky Downs, located in Franklin, Ky., is majority owned, controlled and managed by a partnership led by Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone.

Winchell has said previously he believes harness racing can mirror the growth Kentucky Thoroughbred racing has experienced since Kentucky Downs introduced Historical Horse Racing into the state in 2011.

“Horse racing is an extremely vital part of the Commonwealth’s economy,” Winchell said previously. “With the addition of a new race track and related amenities in southeastern Kentucky, it will help to continue the momentum we have created for the state and our industry in recent years.”

“Keeneland has dedicated resources to this region and project for many years and we look forward to working alongside our partners at Kentucky Downs to bring this project to life,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said when the racing applications were submitted to the state last year. “This project will strengthen Kentucky’s vital horse industry and positively impact the Commonwealth and the local communities by stimulating significant economic growth, generating hundreds of new jobs and enhancing tourism and hospitality.”

The application before the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority is by ECL Corbin LLC, the partnership between Keeneland and the Kentucky Downs owners.

The authority’s board went into closed session to review the application and after returning voted unanimously to approve without providing details of the amount

The incentive program allows tourism projects that meet certain minimum standards to recoup 25 percent of the development costs over 10 years.

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