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Former Kentucky Governor Martha Layne Collins came to Marion County Friday to reminisce.
And to brag on the community.
And to enjoy one of the ribeyes cooked up by the Marion County Cattlemen.
Collins was the featured speaker during the Marion County Industry Appreciation Banquet at the David R. Hourigan Government Center, and she fondly spoke about her visits to Marion County during the early 1980s when she was elected governor. She congratulated the community on its accomplishments, but said there is always room to improve.
“I’m proud of the job that you’ve done of importing and exporting, creating jobs, training your people, having vision to look toward the future,” Collins said. “You’re diverse. You’ve got plastic, wood, auto, bourbon, food, we could go on and on and on. That’s just the beginning. But, I also feel compelled today to say to you… So, it’s good. It could always be better.”
Collins speaks from experience.
After being elected governor in 1983, she led the effort to pursue and bring Toyota to Georgetown. No one is credited more with bringing the automaker to Kentucky.
Marion County Economic Development Director Tom Lund said Kentucky is now known as an automotive powerhouse thanks to Collins’ vision and courage.
“We have 450 automotive related manufacturing firms in Kentucky,” Lund said. “That’s due to Martha Layne’s vision. That took a lot of courage.”
But, it wasn’t easy.
“When we announced that Toyota was coming to Kentucky I had probably the six toughest months of my life,” Collins said. “People didn’t understand. They didn’t know what was going to happen to us. They thought I had sold the capital dome. Just gave it away.”
But, what helped Collins during that difficult time was her attitude.
To illustrate her point, she shared a quote from football coach Lou Holtz: “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
Collins said Marion County has been living that way, which has contributed to its success. She encouraged the community to continue working as a team.
“No one person can do the job,” Collins said. “It takes a team. And that’s what you’ve got. And you’ve got to keep making that team better, stronger, wiser and more informed. You’ve got to bring up your young people to know what they’ve got to know… that they’ve got to work hard… that they’ve got to take responsibility and be prepared for the workforce.”
Collins also reminded those in attendance that they must not forget about the important role that St. Catharine College plays in the region’s growth, as well.
Collins was president at SCC from 1990 to 1996, and she is still a very strong advocate for the college.
“I’m so proud to have had a part in that… in the growth… setting the path,” she said. “You all played a very important role in what’s happened at St. Catharine College. And St. Catharine plays a very important role in what happens to you all business-wise.”
Collins ended her remarks by offering her support and help to Marion County if and when it’s ever needed.
“I’m not retired. I’m still working,” she said. “If there is anything I can do to help in anyway, don’t hesitate to call on me. If nothing else, I can just yell real loud long enough until we get somebody to listen.”