Corbin Economic Development Director to receive Visionary Award

Bruce Carpenter
Bruce Carpenter

Corbin’s Director of Economic Development will be honored later this month as the fifth recipient of the annual Daniel Boone “Visionary” Award, given to those who embody the values of the Boy Scouts of America.

Bruce Carpenter has been named the 2015 Visionary Award winner by The Mountain Laurel District of the Bluegrass Council of Boy Scouts. An award banquet to honor him will be held June 23 at The Corbin Center for Technology and Community Activities at 6:00 p.m.

Michael Sharpe, a local Market President for Forcht Bank and Chairman of the Daniel Boone Visionary Award Committee, said Carpenter was selected as this year’s recipient because he is on the front lines of the effort to build the kind of local economy that would encourage young, talented graduates to join the local workforce instead of moving away.

“I think everybody kind of understands that we have great, talented children growing up here. They also think it’s a shame that so many of them move away because of lack of job opportunities,” Sharpe said. “I just don’t know if we often make the connection that we can actually do something about it. The Office of Economic Development is where we do something about it. This is where it happens.”

Carpenter assumed the role of Economic Development Director in 2006. In the position, he serves as the chief executive for two industrial park boards and the Corbin Industrial Development Commission. He’s also Executive Director of the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m truly humbled and honored by this recognition,” Carpenter said in response to the news he had been selected for the award. “I love this area and I want to see it grow and prosper. My goal has always been to help make our local economy a strong and vibrant one so it isn’t just a place where people grow up and leave, but where they can stay, and have a career and raise their own families.”

To that end, Carpenter has been instrumental in creating and maintaining workforce development programs through the Chamber of Commerce including the Work Ethic Seal Program, which teaches high school age students the importance of a good work ethic; partnered with Eastern Kentucky University to host the Entrepreneurship Fair, Coordinated the Education to Career Connection Day, and helped implement Junior Achievement programs in local schools.

“He’s shown a keen interest in making sure our young people are ready to be productive members of the workforce through these programs,” Sharpe said. “A lot of things about Boy Scouts teach you about leadership and taking responsibility. I think many of the personality traits that Boy Scouts teach are what we see in Bruce and he’s working to pass that on to others as well.”

Sharpe also noted some of Carpenters other successes as Economic Development Director, including: securing significant grant funds for the development of the Tri-County Industrial Park and the Southeast Kentucky Regional Business Park, successfully negotiating the location of KOWA Industries first North American facility in Corbin, led effort to change Corbin to a fourth class city enabling passage of a local restaurant tax, initiation of effort to expand alcohol sales within the city of Corbin, involved in negotiations that will lead to the construction of a quarter horse racing facility in the Tri-County Industrial Park, and spearheaded the effort on Right-To-Work legislation locally.

Carpenter was instrumental in starting the Southeast Kentucky Regional Training Consortium. He also led the community-wide effort to develop the 20/20 Vision Plan in 2009 — a forward-looking roadmap designed to improve the area economically, socially and educationally. Currently, he serves on the Kentucky Association for Economic Development Board of Directors and is a former chairman. He is also a past member of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Past Recipients of the Visionary Award include: Forcht Group of Kentucky founder Terry Forcht, Bob Mitchell, University of the Cumberlands President Dr. James Taylor and State Senate President Robert Stivers.

“The real visionaries are the people that are making a difference for our area,” Sharpe said. “I think Bruce Carpenter is definitely on that list.”

The award isn’t Carpenter’s first accolade. In 2012, he was selected Kentucky Association for Economic Development Community Professional of the Year. The award was named after James L. Coleman — a long-time employee of East Kentucky Power Cooperative and one of the pioneers in economic development in eastern Kentucky.

Anyone wishing to attend the ceremony on June 23, at 6 p.m. is encouraged to reserve a table today. Guests may sponsor a table of up to eight people or come as individuals.

All proceeds from this event benefit the Mt. Laurel Boy Scouts of America serving Laurel, Whitley, Knox, Harlan, Bell, and Jackson counties. The District serves over 1,000 youth in 45 units.

To attend, contact Mike Sharpe at (606) 862-5720 or e-mail  him at misharp@forcht