Prior to KAED’s formation, there existed a group of 14-15 people actively involved in professional industrial work in Kentucky that came to be known as the Kentucky Industrial Team. The team functioned as an adjunct of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and was composed largely of industrial professionals associated with utility companies and railroads. Members of the team were Clarence Taylor, Jim Alexander, Jack Frost, Charlie Catlett, Leonard Kernen, Winn Johnson, Jim Coleman, Bill Neal, Art Mattingly, Wayland McDowell, Bill Short, Bruce Kennedy, Whitt Howard, and Nick Kieffer.
On an industrial recruiting trip to New York in 1967, members of the Kentucky Industrial Team decided a statewide industrial development group, with broader representation, should be formed in the Commonwealth. The team members surmised that the formation of an association would enable Kentucky’s industrial development efforts to withstand changes in the preferences and priorities of each new Governor’s administration in Frankfort.
Later in the same year, an organizational meeting was held for the newly established Kentucky Industrial Development Council, KIDC. Approximately 40-50 people attended this meeting in Louisville at the Brown Hotel. Bylaws were adopted and Bruce Kennedy was elected President. Nick Kieffer, then Director of Industrial Development for L&N Railroad, was elected Vice-President, and Clarence Taylor was elected Secretary/Treasurer. This newly formed KIDC would later become today’s Kentucky Association for Economic Development, KAED.
During its early years, KAED served primarily as a support association to the Kentucky Department of Economic Development on industrial recruiting trips. KAED along with the Kentucky Department of Economic Development initiated the first Industrial Tours in the State. On these tours, 25-30 active industrial prospects interested in Kentucky were invited into specific regions of the state.
On The Right Track
Over the years, KAED has provided leadership and educational opportunities for professional economic developers. Since becoming incorporated, the organization has become more active in influencing the policies and legislation that encourage growth and development in the Commonwealth. One of the most important benefits KAED has afforded its members is the opportunity to meet and interact with other professionals. These professionals are dedicated to making Kentucky a better place to live and work.
The Association is incorporated and consists of more than 600 members that represent 355 unique companies. KAED’s membership represents diverse professionals across the state who share a common interest in building and growing Kentucky. The organization is governed by a 13 member Board of Directors and managed by full time professional staff. KAED continues to work with the Cabinet for Economic Development and other state organizations that support economic development.