Mayor: Supporting universities key to Lexington’s future

By Hayley Schletker

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry stressed the importance of maintaining and expanding higher education opportunities in Lexington last night at the State of the Merged Government Address.

Institutions such as UK, Transylvania University, and Bluegrass Community and Technical College must be supported to provide quality employees to Lexington businesses and to maintain Lexington’s reputation as an educational center, he said.

“We must jealously guard that reputation so that the young people here tonight will have the opportunity to obtain a quality education without having to leave our community,” Newberry said.

One step that Newberry’s office has taken is forming the Bluegrass Business Development Partnership, an effort involving UK and Commerce Lexington that seeks to change the way jobs are brought to Lexington.

“We have provided substantially greater financial support of our efforts to bring high quality jobs to Lexington so that our young people will be able to find attractive, high- paying jobs in our horse, health care and high-tech industries without having to leave Lexington,” Newberry said.

Newberry also highlighted other accomplishments that benefit UK students, including work on paving roads and on increasing the number of bike lanes.

Newberry said he was pleased with the improvements made around UK and the entire community, but looked forward to taking more steps forward in 2008.

“Tonight we need to look back at the progress which we have made in 2007 to address Lexington’s human, economic, physical and cultural needs,” Newberry said, “but we must also look ahead, to evaluate what else we must do to leave our children and future generations a better home than that which was left to us by prior generations of Lexingtonians.”

Newberry noted that Gov. Steve Beshear announced last week his financial backing on two of Lexington’s top priorities: improvements at the Kentucky Horse Park and new runway construction at the Blue Grass Airport.

Those projects are important for the upcoming 2010 World Equestrian Games, Newberry said, which he anticipates will have a positive impact on the Central Kentucky region.

“The World Equestrian Games provides us with an unparalleled opportunity to showcase our arts to the world,” Newberry said. “I know that we will surprise many of our guests with what remarkable arts and cultural offerings we have to share.”