Discover Kentucky aims to drive new business for companies, create investment, jobs

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce  announced Monday a new partnership – the Discover Kentucky Initiative – to introduce Chamber members to European companies interested in the U.S. market, lay groundwork for partnerships and build long-term relationships aimed at creating new investments, jobs and economic strength.

While the pandemic disrupted operations for many businesses and blocked several traditional channels of economic development the past 11 months, it also opened new opportunities. The Discover Kentucky Initiative is designed to capitalize on those.

For Chamber members, opportunities include potential distributor agreements, corporate partnerships and increased trade. The state’s economy will benefit as the initiative creates and nurtures relationships, aiming to translate them over the long-term into investments, new facilities and jobs for Kentuckians.

“Through this partnership with the Chamber, we are taking advantage of how the pandemic is changing business. Companies that may not have considered selling, developing their products or manufacturing in the U.S. are seeing new value in global diversification,” Beshear said. “We know this works, too. Economic development often hinges on relationships, and it’s why in any given year, about three-quarters of all the projects we announced are expansions of companies already in the commonwealth.”

Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts said the initiative will strengthen individual businesses and the state’s economy.

“As Kentucky, the nation, and the world seek to rebuild, we are excited to launch this partnership to further economic opportunities in new and exciting ways. The Kentucky Chamber will work directly to connect companies abroad with Kentucky businesses to cultivate relationships to advance the commonwealth,” Watts said.

Discover Kentucky’s goals are to facilitate introductions between the Chamber and European businesses with significant interest in the U.S. market, foster relationships to maintain Kentucky top of mind for future expansion projects, and provide continuity for the initiative and the relationships it creates for years to come.

The initiative’s process begins with Team Kentucky’s European representative office in Hamburg, Germany. That office regularly fields inquiries from European companies interested in establishing distributor partnerships or other agreements to enter the U.S. market.

However, many of these companies aren’t yet ready to commit to building a factory, establishing an office or setting up a sales operation.

After a vetting by the European office, the Chamber will introduce Kentucky businesses to those European companies, based on mutual needs and interests.

A quarterly check-in will further facilitate the connection and maintain Kentucky leading location for when each European company is ready to plan an expansion.

Kentucky continues to attract new investment and jobs from European companies. Last year despite the pandemic, the commonwealth saw 16 projects announced by European companies, representing nearly $130 million in planned investment and 188 new full-time jobs committed across the coming years.

European companies today operate more than 220 facilities in Kentucky, employing more than 37,000 people full-time. Those facilities often form the economic backbones of communities across the commonwealth and each of those successes started with a relationship.

Contact Team Kentucky’s European representative office here.

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