WHAT WE THINK: Shelby County is making a great case for No. 1

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College football season kicks off this week and with that comes a lot of chatter about who is number one.

Alabama and Florida State are drawing the most attention from the pundits, but there are dark horses.

Some experts like Georgia, UCLA or Big 12 titan Oklahoma, but there is one that everyone is overlooking, in fact many never think of it.

Shelby County, Kentucky is making a strong claim for Number 1.

Maybe we don’t have college football team clamoring for a spot in the new 4-team playoff – although you’ll be hard pressed to find more passionate Cards and Cats fans anywhere else – but we seem to be the center of attention in Kentucky right now.

You’ve read it right here in the pages of this newspaper – folks Shelby County is booming!

As a country we still may be climbing out of a recession, but locally we’re dominating the economic landscape.

We’ve added a new outlet mall that, so far, has been a smashing success with shoppers traveling from near and far to check out our new stores – not to mention have lunch, buy gas and more.

We have several industries that are expanding – Katayama, Sigma Stretch and Edward Moving and Rigging to name a few – and looking to hire more workers, make more product and move more very, very large items.

And our industrial base will soon be growing, too.

We are currently adding Tegrant, a subsidiary of Sonoco, in Shelbyville and Faurecia, which has announced its intentions to build in Kingbrook Commerce Center in Simpsonville.

And let’s not forget the official start to Shelby County adding the state’s other signature industry.

Along with our collection of beautiful horses, the rolling hills of Shelby County will soon produce Bulleit Bourbon and rye whisky.

For years our county has produced corn that was carefully cultivated into the sweet, oaky drink that has become synonymous with the commonwealth, but not until now have been able to call one of the drinks our own. It will be a few years before we can taste our own bourbon, but we’re well on the way.

Diageo, the world’s largest distiller of fine spirits has broken ground on its new $115 million facility on Benson Pike, and in Shelbyville we will soon have Rut N Strut on Gordon Lane near the very successful Talon Winery.

Rut N Strut is kind of perfect for Shelbyville – as an artisanal craft bourbon distiller it will be a little smaller, a little quieter and a little more careful than the bigger mass distilleries, much like our town compared to our bigger counterparts in the state.

That’s quiet the rundown of economic impact in a county of less than 45,000. Find us another county that, per capita, has that kind of impact going on.

Add to that our 6.1 percent unemployment rate from June and you can make the claim that Shelby is a key cylinder in Kentucky’s economic engine.

All of this reaffirms one thing that we have known all along – Shelby County is a somewhat hidden gem in the state.

We are not the biggest, the flashiest or the fastest but we are consistently at or near the top.

So, who is No. 1?

It’s just might be Shelby County.