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Economic growth in London achieving long desired downtown vibe

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 6
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 2:54 PM EDT
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LONDON, Ky. (WYMT) - The economic response to the shock of the pandemic impacted parts of Southern and Eastern Kentucky differently.

In London, the heart of Laurel County, members of the business community say it did not hurt too much.

This Spring and Summer, as more people feel comfortable with social gatherings, people in London say there are many new businesses to greet them.

Members of the London-Laurel County Chamber of Commerce said if you go back six years people would tell you they are not happy with the atmosphere downtown and looking for a change.

”I think the majority of people here would say they were not satisfied with the way things were looking in town,” said local Entrepreneur Phil Smith.

Chamber of Commerce CEO Deanna Herrmann said that change is here.

“We’ve got hotels coming, we have eateries coming in, we have retail coming in,” said Hermann. “It [has] all been very positive for our community and a lot of growth.”

Herrmann explained restaurants are a major driver of growth in the downtown area which business leaders are describing as the heartbeat of London, but she says the city needs a workforce prepared for any economic sector.

”We’re really looking on how do we build our workforce for tomorrow? How do we keep all of our businesses supplied with a great workforce,” she asked while explaining the focus of the Chamber.

Smith with numerous businesses opening, more money being spent in the community and an energized business leadership community, the future is bright for London.

”So many times people see London, that name on the Interstate, and they say, ‘Yeah, I’m not familiar with London but I drove through,’ and we’re excited that we’re becoming more a destination than a drive-by,” he said.

Herrmann is looking forward to a project with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library that she said should help with a future workforce.

”We are working on all of our upcoming leaders to be good readers,” she said. “As we know, if you can read at a third grade level you’re more likely to graduate from high school, you’re more likely to graduate from college.”

Beginning in August families with children five years old and under may sign up for the delivery of a book through the Imagination Library once a month. Herrmann said more details will be announced soon.

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