Wired65 Region (KY & IN) – Regional Competitiveness Strategy

Challenge The Wired65 region – named for the Interstate highway upon which much of its economy is based – faces a unique combination of challenges and opportunities. Home to Worldport, UPS’s international shipping hub, the area boasts a strong logistics and distribution cluster. A significant automotive presence has allowed the region to hold onto a greater share of manufacturing than most. Fort Knox is poised to receive the U.S. Army Human Resources Command, which will make the facility, in effect, the human resources department for one of the largest organizations in the world and bring an influx of human resource and information technology professionals to the region. However, the region’s current occupational mix and educational attainment levels present a challenge in fully leveraging this opportunity.

In recognition of these challenges and opportunities, the 15-county Lincoln Trail Area Development District was awarded a $5 million grant under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovations in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) initiative. The WIRED initiative is designed to integrate economic and workforce development activities in order to demonstrate the role of talent in the transformation of regional economies. To better reflect economic ties, the region was expanded to include 26 counties – 19 in Kentucky and 7 in Indiana. It encompasses the Louisville and Elizabethtown metropolitan areas and includes portions of 5 workforce investment boards.

Approach As the first step in leveraging the WIRED funding, the regional leadership engaged TIP Strategies and Madison-based Next Generation Consulting to prepare a Regional Competitiveness Strategy, using a three-phased approach. The Regional Economic Positioning Analysis assessed the area’s unique economic strengths and weaknesses in the context of the global economy. Workforce issues uncovered in the first phase were explored more fully in the Human Capital Analysis, which documented the area’s occupational clusters, examined critical training and skills needs, and identified factors that influence talent retention and attraction. Together, these two analyses provided an “asset map” of the region’s amenities and economic opportunities, as well as shedding light on gaps.

The Regional Competitiveness Strategy provided specific recommendations for training, attracting and retaining the workforce required to grow the regional economy in the future. Public input was a critical part of the process. In addition to monthly meetings with the Wired65 Leadership Team, the consulting team conducted meetings in each of the 26 counties, as well as individual interviews with stakeholders. An on-line survey was conducted via the Wired65 website (www.wired65.org). A total of 2,908 people completed the survey, including nearly 400 former residents.

Outcome The final report was released in spring 2009. It will serve as a blueprint for positioning the region for the development, retention, and recruitment of talent.

TIP Contact Tom Stellman

Work Sample An electronic copy of the final deliverable is available at the following site.

Courtesy of One Knox