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Area Development Districts (ADDs) originated in Kentucky in the early 1960’s with the establishment of Area Development Councils. These Councils were organized in all counties and ultimately served as the precursor for Area Development authorization. Landmark federal acts such as the Appalachian Regional Development Act, a product of visionary Kentuckian John Whisman, and the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 were passed with the intention of utilizing the Area Development network to administer and deliver needed federal resources to communities all across this country. These acts resulted in the creation of two new federal agencies: The Appalachian Regional Commission and the Economic Development Administration. During the period between 1966 and 1972, Kentucky formally created 15 Area Development Districts to serve every county and municipality in the Commonwealth.

In 2000, Congress established the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), another federal program designed to make strategic investments in the distressed region of the Mississippi River watershed. Kentucky has 21 counties in western Kentucky that are designated DRA counties. Our three far-western Kentucky ADDs play a prominent partnership role in administering the delivery of these resources.The mission of the ADDs is simple: to bring local civic and governmental leaders together to accomplish major objectives and take advantage of opportunities that cannot be achieved or realized by those governments acting alone.Further, the ADDs are designed to be the linchpin in a necessary Federal-State-Local partnership, “the three-legged stool,” which provides for the optimum synergy to advance real improvement in the quality of life of our citizens. This concept has effectively eliminated debilitating parochialism and serves as a model for public/private collaboration, convening public officials to discuss common public service challenges and cost-effectively deliver competent public administration assistance to state and local governments. This service legacy has now operated for more than five decades.

 

Two organizations have emerged out of the ADD network which have served to broaden their scope and therefore enhanced their community development role. The Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts (KCADD) is an organization representing all ADD board members throughout the state. The Kentucky Association of District Directors (KADD) is an organization comprised of the 15 ADD executive directors. In 1995, KCADD and KADD engaged the services of a full-time Executive Director and established an office in Frankfort. The executive director lobbies on behalf of the ADDs, coordinates the dissemination of data and pertinent information, and serves a staffing role to both KCADD and KADD.

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The Lisman Workforce Complex is a collaborative project involving the Green River Area Development District. The project offers technical education and certification for highly in-demand trades, including CDL, utility linemen, and diesel mechanics.

Workforce Development

Kentucky's ADDs play a crucial role in connecting residents with workforce development opportunities. They achieve this by: 

  • Collaboration: ADDS coordinate various programs and services across different counties, ensuring cohesive approach to workforce development throughout the region. This collaborative effort bridges the gap between local needs and resources provided by the state and federal government. 

  • Workforce Development Boards: Many ADDs establish Workforce Development Boards (WDBs). These WDBs are responsible for strategizing and managing local workforce development projects. They conduct research on the regional job market to understand in-demand skills and identify any skill gaps.

  • Career Centers: Some ADDs operate or partner with career centers that offer job seekers a one-stop shop for career development resources. These centers provide services like resume writing, interview preparation, and job search assistance. 

  • Grant procurement: ADDs often have staff experienced in securing grants. They can assist communities in finding relevant grant opportunities related to workforce development and help with the application process. 

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The Lisman Workforce Complex is a collaborative project involving the Green River Area Development District. The project offers technical education and certification for highly in-demand trades, including CDL, utility linemen, and diesel mechanics.

As a continuation of regional planning processes, the Barren River Area Development District hosts a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDs) Mini-Summit each spring. 

Economic Development 

Kentucky's ADDs play a vital role in the state's economic development by providing various planning and assistance services to their member counties. These contributions include: 

  • Planning and Strategic Development: ADDs assist counties in crafting economic development plans that align with the region's unique strengths and opportunities. This might involve analyzing local assets, identifying target industries, and creating a roadmap for attracting businesses and investments. 

  • Business Assistance:  Many ADDs offer programs and resources to help businesses grow and succeed. This could include things like:

Workforce Development—Programs that train or certify residents in skills relevant to in-demand jobs​

Small Business Counseling—Providing guidance and support to entrepreneurs navigating the complexities of starting or running a business

Loan and Grant Facilitation—Connecting businesses with financing options like loans and grants to support expansion or innovation.

  • Infrastructure Development: ADDs can play a role in identifying and advocating for critical infrastructure projects that improve a region's attractiveness to businesses. This might involve transportation networks, broadband access, or utility upgrades.

  • Marketing and Promotion: Some ADDs help member counties develop marketing campaigns to promote the region as a destination for businesses and residents. This could involve showcasing the area's available workforce, business-friendly environment, or quality of life.

  • Collaboration and Networking: ADDs foster collaboration between local governments, businesses, and community organizations. This can help create a more unified approach to economic development and leverage collective resources more effectively. 

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Through the Cleaner Water Program (CWP), the Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency (KIPDA) has assisted 44 local utilities in securing over $33 million for infrastructure improvements. In the KIPDA region, CWP projects have impacted 27,457 unserved or underserved households. The construction of a water main extension along Roe Hill Road in Bullitt County, pictured above, began in August 2023. 

Water/Wastewater Planning

Kentucky's ADDs play a crucial role in coordinating and prioritizing water/wastewater planning efforts across the state. Here's a breakdown of their key functions:

  • Regional Planning Councils: Senate Bill 409 mandated the creation of Regional Water Management Councils within each ADD. These councils, along with the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority (KIA), oversee the regional water management planning process.

  • Project Prioritization: ADDs work with local utilities, governments, and KIA to compile data and develop project profiles for water/wastewater infrastructure projects throughout their regions. The councils then evaluate and prioritize these projects based on specific criteria. 

  • Technical Assistance: ADD staff, particularly the water service coordinators, provide technical assistance to local governments and water/wastewater utilities. This assistance can involve planning guidance, data collection, and compiling system information for KIA's database. 

  • Information Sharing:  ADDs serve as a platform for communication and collaboration among different stakeholders involved in water/wastewater management. They facilitate knowledge and sharing, disseminate information on funding opportunities, and organize training events. 

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The Lisman Workforce Complex is a collaborative project involving the Green River Area Development District. The project offers technical education and certification for highly in-demand trades, including CDL, utility linemen, and diesel mechanics.

The Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency (KIPDA) anchors Every Commute Counts, its regional rideshare program that serves the region in creating sustainable commuting options. In 2023, Every Commute Counts saved commuters over $350,000 by participating in a vanpool versus driving in their car alone.

Transportation & Infrastructure Planning

Kentucky's ADDs play a crucial role in transportation and infrastructure planning, especially in non-metropolitan areas. Here's a breakdown of their key functions:

  • Regional Coordination: ADDs act as a central hub for transportation planning across multiple counties within their designated region. They facilitate communication and collaboration between local governments, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and other stakeholders.

  • Needs Identification and Prioritization: ADDs work with local communities to identify current and future transportation needs. This involves analyzing data, conducting public engagement activities, and understanding regional priorities. Based on this information, they help prioritize projects for funding and consideration.

  • Planning and Development: ADDs can assist with developing regional transportation plans and strategies. These plans outline specific goals, objectives, and potential projects to address identified transportation needs.

  • Grant Procurement: ADDs play a vital role in helping communities secure funding for transportation projects. They can guide local governments through the grant application process for federal and state resources. 

It's important to note that ADDs typically focus on transportation planning in non-urbanized areas. For major metropolitan regions in Kentucky, transportation planning is handled by separate Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). 

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The Gateway Area Development District (GADD) hosted a Fall Carnival and Resource Fair for the Gateway’s regions senior citizens at the Morgan County Wellness Center in November 2023. The event drew a crowd of more than 150 senior citizens from all five of the Gateway region’s counties, resource fair attendees, local elected officials, and GADD personnel. 

Healthcare and Aging Services 

Kentucky's ADDs are instrumental in supporting healthcare and aging services for residents, particularly in non-urban areas. Here's how they contribute:

  • Area Agencies on Aging (AAA): Most ADDs function as AAAs designated by the state. These AAAs play a critical role in coordination and delivering a range of services for older adults and individuals with disabilities. 

  • Service Delivery and Information: AAAs within ADDs often provide or connect individuals with various services like: 

    • Nutrition ​Programs—Meals on Wheels, congregate meals

    • Independent Living Assistance—Transportation services, homemaker services

    • Health Promotion—Disease prevention programs, health screenings 

    • Caregiver Support—Training, respite care

Additionally, they act as a central point of information and referral, guiding individuals toward appropriate healthcare and aging resources in the community.

Planning and Advocacy—ADDs play a part in planning for future healthcare and aging services needed. They conduct assessments, identify gaps in service provision, and advocate for resources to address those needs at the regional level. 

Funding Opportunities—ADDs can sometimes offer grant programs or connect communities with funding resources to support local healthcare and aging initiatives. 

It's important to remember that specific services offered by ADDs can vary depending on the region and its unique needs. However, they serve as a central hub for information, resources, and coordinated service delivery for Kentuckians, especially seniors, in non-metropolitan areas. 

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The Lisman Workforce Complex is a collaborative project involving the Green River Area Development District. The project offers technical education and certification for highly in-demand trades, including CDL, utility linemen, and diesel mechanics.

Northern Kentucky Area Development District Infrastructure Specialist Jeff Burt 

GIS Mapping

Kentucky's ADDs are champions of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology for regional planning and development. Here's how they leverage GIS:

 

  • Data Hubs: ADDs function as data repositories maintaining and managing a wealth of geospatial information for their respective regions. This data encompasses demographics, infrastructure, land use, and other crucial factors.

  • Data Analysis and Visualization: ADDs have the technical expertise to analyze and interpret GIS data. This allows them to identify trends, patterns, and relationships that might not be readily apparent from raw data. They can then translate this information into clear and concise maps, reports, and other visual formats for stakeholders.

  • Planning and Decision Making: By leveraging GIS data and analysis, ADDs support informed decision-making across various sectors. This can include regional planning for economic development, infrastructure projects, emergency management, engagement, and citizen participation in regional planning initiatives. 

  • Public Outreach and Education: ADDs can use GIS-generated maps and visualizations to effectively communicate complex information to the public. This fosters transparency, engagement, and citizen participation in regional planning initiatives. 

  • Collaboration and Resource Sharing: Some ADDs even develop custom GIS software or online mapping applications. These tools can be shared with local governments and community partners to facilitate collaboration and improve access to spatial data.

Overall, Kentucky's ADDs play a vital role in making GIS technology accessible and beneficial for informed decision-making at the regional level. They serve as a valuable resource for local governments and communities to leverage spatial data for planning and development. 

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