Leadership Kentucky comes to Shelby

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By Nathan L. McBroom

Business and community leaders from across the state will converge in Shelbyville on Thursday and Friday for a conference on Kentucky's economic development and the state's equine industry.

Every year Leadership Kentucky, a non-profit educational organization, selects a group of business and community leaders from across the state to participate in a series of informational meetings. Once a month for seven months, the participants travel to various locations across the state to gain insight into the complex issues that are facing the state.

These issues range from government and agriculture to education and industry.

Diana B. Ratliff, president/executive director of Leadership Kentucky, said Shelbyville was chosen for the two-day event because of its prominent Saddlebred farms and numerous factories.

Ratliff said the program benefits the participants and the communities they represent.

"I think that everyone (who participates) comes away with a more informed and fresh perspective," she said. "They take that back with them to their communities."

Along with giving participants in depth information on a variety of topics, the program also allows members to network and workshop ideas, Ratliff said.

Shelby County has had several former Leadership Kentucky participants, including Reggie Van Stockum, Pat Hargadon, and Dana Mayton. This will be the first time that Leadership Kentucky will have held an event in Shelby County.

She said a stop in the community is long overdue.

On Wednesday, members will begin arriving locally and will have the option of either playing a round of golf at Weissinger Hills Golf course or taking a tour of downtown Shelbyville. Members will also have the opportunity to visit the Kentucky Horseshoeing School on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, the meeting will begin and the group will hear an overview of Kentucky's current economic situation and its place in the global economy.

A panel of local industry leaders and factory presidents will then field questions from members of the class.

On Friday, the group will learn about the place of the Saddlebred breed in the equine industry.

The group will spend the day at Undulata Farms and will have lunch at Claudia Sanders Dinner House.

Out of the 57 members in the class, at least one of them won't need directions around the community.

Shelbyville native Beth Ann Kovacs, assistant Vice President/Business Development Coordinator for Citizens Union Bank, is a current Leadership Kentucky class member.

Kovacs, who will lead the group on some of their tours, said she hopes the other members of the class are amazed by what they see in the community.

Kovacs participated in Leadership Shelby in 2005 and went on to be president of Leadership Shelby in 2007.

She said just as participating in the local program gave her an understanding of the issues that face Shelby County, Leadership Kentucky has done the same on a statewide level.

"It's been a big eye opener for me," she said. "I've learned a lot more about the significant issues that face our state."

This year the program will also visit Jabez, Murray, Frankfort, Shelbyville, Pikeville, Eddyville/Ft. Campbell, and Nicholasville.