The state of Kentucky, recognizing the growth of its aerospace manufacturing and aviation sector as an asset too valuable to ignore, has commissioned a study to analyze the industry’s overall economic impact and foster its continued growth.
Gov. Steve Beshear on March 30 signed a joint legislative resolution that honors Kentucky’s aviation sector and directs the Transportation Cabinet, the Cabinet for Economic Development, and the Commission on Military Affairs to cooperatively carry out the study—including suggestions for strengthening the network of 53 general aviation airports, and attracting new aviation businesses to the state.
"Kentucky needed this study, and AOPA was pleased to see it pass unanimously," said Jared Esselman, AOPA director of state government affairs. "A better understanding of the economic impact of the general aviation industry will provide a solid foundation for future aviation policy, and highlight the importance of this vibrant industry," he said.
Esselman credited the Kentucky Aviation Association for a strong advocacy effort to win approval for the measure.
The joint resolution’s preamble notes that in February 2014, Beshear announced that "the value of annual Kentucky exports had broken records for the third consecutive year; and that aerospace products manufactured in Kentucky led the Commonwealth's export growth with $5.6 billion worth of exports in 2013."
Also, employment in the state’s private aerospace/aviation products manufacturing industry has increased 63 percent since 2002, "with a corresponding 100 percent increase in the establishment of aerospace companies."
The industry’s strength "has created a need for greater public awareness of this thriving industry as well as more education and training opportunities for employment in this field" in a state that claims 28 of 98 high schools in the nation that teach aerospace and aviation skills.
College-level educational programs already operating in Kentucky in partnership with NASA and other agencies make Kentucky "the standard-bearer in the field of aerospace and aviation education," it said.