The following “Letter to the Editor” was submitted by Bea Burt, the Mayor of Oak Grove, KY.
As mayor, I’m the first to tell people what makes Oak Grove so special. The people, local businesses, culture, I could go on and on. Knowing these things, it came as no surprise when the two biggest names in Kentucky horse racing, Churchill Downs and Keeneland, chose our city as the site for a state-of-the-art live and historical racing venue and hotel.
I am excited about what the Churchill Downs and Keeneland investment means for our community, and I hope you will join in my enthusiasm. The proposed venue promises to be a catalyst for economic growth throughout our region. It would bring increased investment and significant job creation, including nearly 800 construction jobs and nearly 400 jobs related to long-term operations.
But these are not the only benefits. We will also have an opportunity to welcome many new guests to our great city through increased tourism. This state-of-the-art facility will attract more people to Oak Grove to see all that our community has to offer.
This joint venture also promises to deliver more than just live and historical horse racing to our community. The project includes an equestrian center as well as a hotel and meeting facility, making this a full-fledged entertainment venue. This all-in-one facility would attract conferences and visitors from across the state and region, increasing our tax base, attracting further economic development, and ultimately creating more jobs for our people.
When people think of Kentucky, they think of horse racing. It is a $4 billion industry in the Commonwealth that creates thousands of jobs, strengthens our economy and attracts millions of visitors from around the world. But until now, most of that activity was concentrated around Louisville and Lexington. Now we have a chance to reap those economic benefits right here in Oak Grove.
Some may say this is too good to be true. But I’ve seen the evidence firsthand. Last month, I attended the opening of Churchill Downs’ new historical racing facility in Louisville, Derby City Gaming. I wanted to ensure they were capable of delivering all that’s been promised in Oak Grove. I can say with confidence that this historic partnership between Churchill Downs and Keeneland will deliver above and beyond for our community.
We have worked very hard to bring this transformative investment, from two of Kentucky’s most iconic brands, to Oak Grove and Christian County. There is no other group that can offer the combination of a wide range of planned amenities that will drive tourism to our area, a demonstrated ability to construct facilities and hire teams that deliver a first-class customer experience, and financial strength to turn plans into reality. I urge regulators to approve their proposal in light of these compelling considerations.
We are Oak Grove, “Kentucky’s Rising Star on the Border.” What does this motto mean? It means embracing proposals like this one that will best take our city and our county upward.
Our residents deserve the benefits that Churchill Downs’ and Keeneland’s new Oak Grove venue will bring: economic growth, job creation, and increased tourism. I urge the respective authorities at the state and county levels to approve this project swiftly and unlock the massive potential of our fine city.
Bea Burt is the mayor of Oak Grove.