A multitude of community leaders met this week to discuss the future of Grayson County, what is keeping it from reaching its full potential, and how to make it the best it can be.
A “20/20 Vision” meeting to discuss Grayson County’s Work Ready initiative was held on Thursday evening, April 28 and attended by members of the Grayson County Fiscal Court; Leitchfield, Clarkson, and Caneyville City Councils; Grayson County Schools; Leitchfield-Grayson County Industrial Development; the Grayson County Chamber of Commerce; and local Tourism, among other entities.
Steve Meredith, who coordinated the Grayson County Work Ready initiative, led the meeting.
Meredith said Grayson County received the Work Ready in Progress designation in July of 2015, succeeding in the requirements for local high school graduation rate, community commitment, and internet availability.
To receive the designation of Work Ready, Grayson County must improve on, within a period of three years, its workforce’s National Career Readiness and Associate’s Degree attainment, and soft skills, which include work ethic and professionalism.
Meredith said that the Work Ready designation is important to Grayson County because it provides tangible, objective evidence to businesses and industry that Grayson County has a skilled workforce and that the county is committed to maintaining that workforce.
Despite having a large adult workforce (around 16,000), a number of obstacles are preventing Grayson County from growing a skilled labor pool from which local employers may draw.
Among the aforementioned obstacles, officials listed the drug epidemic that is affecting not only Grayson County but the entire state of Kentucky; a high percentage of working adults who do not have a high school diploma or a GED; a lack of retail shopping and cultural arts; and the quality of the internet service.
Meredith pointed out that Grayson County’s employers are also in constant competition with other surrounding counties seeking out the same skilled workers, and the county must work to offer more to keep its workforce robust and capable.
Meredith said the goal of Thursday’s meeting was to bring community leaders from all local areas together to start to form a cohesive vision of how to address these issues, and also discuss how play off Grayson County’s strengths to make it more appealing to both potential employers and laborers.
Meredith said Grayson County’s high school graduation rate is 94 percent—one of the highest in the state—but the Associate’s Degree attainment of its workforce is only 17.9 percent—one of the lowest in the state.
Meredith said these statistics tell him that Grayson County is not offering enough opportunities for young people to come back to work.
Too often, individuals focus so intently on what they are doing that they ignore other facets of their community, according to Meredith.
“Grayson County doesn’t prosper if Clarkson doesn’t prosper,” Meredith said. “Grayson County doesn’t prosper if Caneyville doesn’t prosper. Same for Leitchfield. We have to do so in concert.”
At the close of the meeting, Work Ready Coordinators requested that each group in attendance select at least two individuals to sit on a committee for strategic planning to make Grayson County Work Ready and in a better position for the future.
The groups were asked to make their selections by June 1.
“We love this community,” Meredith said. “We want the best for it, but we’ve got to be proactive.”
Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.