Rodney Hitch, a Russell County, Kentucky native, was recently named as one of the top 50 economic developers in North America, according to a leading economic development consulting firm. The Russell County Industrial Development Authority recognized Hitch for this outstanding honor at their August board meeting.
Hitch works to bring new and expanding businesses to rural Kentucky on behalf of Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. Hitch serves as Economic Development Director for East Kentucky Power Cooperative.
“Each year we ask our robust site selector community and economic development partners to nominate individuals that they feel are top-notch and worthy of the title ‘Top 50 Economic Developers,’” said Consultant Connect — an international trade group for economic developers — in announcing the honor. “We are so glad to have the opportunity to collaborate, learn from and lift up these individuals.”
"We wanted to recognize Rodney for being named a top economic developer in North America, and express our deep gratitude to East Kentucky Power for their partnership to enhance our industrial recruitment efforts," said Bennie Garland, RCIDA Executive Director. "Their provision of 'Powermap', 'Powervision' and 'StateBook' resources has enabled Russell County to be recognized and competitive on an international level." These cutting-edge technologies — including data from aerial drone flights, online videos, and mobile mapping — helps market rural Kentucky communities globally.
PRIDE Working to Rebrand Southern and Eastern Kentucky
Natural beauty and outdoor recreation are the top tourism assets of Southern and Eastern Kentucky, based on research recently completed through a regional branding initiative by PRIDE in partnership with the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Tammie Nazario, PRIDE President and Chief Executive Officer, presented research that has been developed as part of an overall tourism rebranding effort for Southern and Eastern Kentucky.
"Ms. Nazario conveyed to the board their endeavor to rebrand Eastern and Southern Kentucky as a tourist destination on a national level. We're very excited about that aspect of PRIDE's work because Lake Cumberland and Lake Cumberland State Resort Park are a focal point of tourism growth for our region. Tourism is the second largest economic development factor for the state of Kentucky," Garland said. "Her presentation was very well received."
“This research confirms that our natural resources are critical to the economy of Southern and Eastern Kentucky, which has been a core belief at PRIDE since we set out in 1997 to improve the region’s environment,” said Nazario.
“Clearly, being good stewards of these natural attractions is important, and PRIDE is committed to continuing to help the region’s communities do just that,” Nazario said. “Now, we also are working with communities to showcase these natural assets to tourists.”
“Ultimately, our goal is to grow our economy and enhance our quality of life,” Nazario explained. “The purpose of this current initiative is to develop a strategic branding direction for growing the economy through tourism in the 41-county region of Southern and Eastern Kentucky.”