A think tank called the Milken Institute has released its ranking of states’ performance in the science and technology industries. Kentucky ranks in the bottom four because of its lower concentrations of scientists and engineers, fewer numbers of high tech jobs, and relatively little funding for scientific research. Milken economist Kevin Klowden says Kentucky’s major industries—manufacturing and mining—can’t grow the economy the way so-called “knowledge” jobs can.
“Coal to a certain extent means a concentration in the energy industry. But the energy industry isn’t enough on its own. You also have to have the research side that goes with it,” he said.
Klowden says high tech industries and a strong scientific research community tend to make economies grow better. They also help attracted skilled workers, who earn more and pump those earnings into the economy. Kentucky’s Cabinet for Economic Development has begun programs to try to attract more high tech jobs to the state. It’s invested nearly $6 million dollars over the past few years on incentives and statewide studies.