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Lexington Conference Considers P3's Future In Kentucky

Josh James

Public-private partnerships, commonly shortened to P3, are the focus of a two-day conference in Lexington this week.

After several years of false starts, the governor and General Assembly signed off on legislation opening the door for P3 initiatives in 2016 – allowing cash-strapped local governments to team up with private industry to fund transportation and other projects.  

"Here in Kentucky we have seen a couple of P3s that have actually happened. A good example is the dorms at UK have been built through a P3," says Ashli Watts, Vice President of Public Affairs with the chamber. "But there had never been really a clear and concise process for a P3 and how to do it. There was not transparency, no oversight."

Watts says supporters of Kentucky’s P3 bill remain confident it provides sufficient protections for taxpayers – one of the concerns raised during legislative debates. But for now, city and private business leaders are still finding their sea legs.    

"Right now, the law is just now being implemented and the regulations are actually going into place, so we don't see any tweaks that are happening right now. The good thing about taking three years to pass a bill is that, after three years, it's a really good bill," she says.

Conference-goers will hear an overview of the legislation, how it’s expected to impact tourism, and what opportunities and obstacles await. Watts says the chamber hopes to make the gathering an annual event.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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