W. Ky. counties create regional organization

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Associated Press

Posted on December 30, 2013 at 10:02 AM

CALHOUN, Ky. (AP) — Four counties in western Kentucky are joining together to create the Kentucky Network for Development, Leadership and Engagement.

The Messenger-Inquirer (http://bit.ly/1c80pWY) reports that the regional economic development organization is being launched Jan. 2 by leaders in McLean, Henderson, Webster and Union counties. It is a merger of Northwest Kentucky Forward and the Henderson-Henderson County Chamber of Commerce.

Brad Schneider has been leading both groups since March. He says merging them will give a unified voice to four counties, which will get more attention from and be more effective with state and national government leaders.

The organization will be called KYNDLE.

"We think people will have fun with the name. It's outside the box enough to intrigue people, and we want them to ask questions because we have a good story to tell," Schneider said.

The merger cleared its last hurdle this month when it got approval from the Henderson-Henderson County chamber.

"We thought we could achieve some efficiencies and have unified branding and messaging," Schneider said. "We had some redundant programs, and our services overlapped a bit, and people began to notice. More than anything, community leaders and investors thought that a unified effort for business support, industrial recruitment and advocacy was important."

McLean County Judge-Executive Kelly Thurman said he initially had reservations about the merger, but decided to support it after giving it some thought.

"My initial reaction was that it would be focused more on the Henderson area," he said. "But I think we all know that we need regionalism for this to work for any of us."

Schneider said KYNDLE will have to prove its worth to each of the four counties.

"I know Judge Thurman is concerned; he wants to make sure this is a good deal for McLean County," Schneider said. "All the discussions we have had have centered around regionalism, not Henderson. Even by itself, Henderson is a small county."

Schneider said regional economic development approaches proven successful in other parts of the state.

"It's a growing trend. Bowling Green, Louisville, Ashland and Lexington have combined chambers and economic development groups into one entity," he said.

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Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, http://www.messenger-inquirer.com

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