A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Ashli Watts: Kentuckians must face some harsh realities if we are to achieve racial equity

Although 2020 was the most difficult year many have ever experienced, it is safe to say that many lessons were learned throughout the course of such a challenging year. As we reflect over the last twelve months, Americans have endured a global pandemic, economic turmoil, political divisiveness, and racial unrest. As overwhelming as all of this can seem, I have learned that some of life’s biggest...

Commentary: Kentucky General Assembly must prioritize business recovery in legislative session

By Ashli Watts, Brent Cooper, Sarah Davasher-Wisdom and Bob Quick Special to KyForward 2020 has been a year like no other, filled with unprecedented challenges and continued uncertainty. As we entered this new decade, Kentucky’s economy was growing, unemployment was low, and our workforce participation was rising. This growth ended when COVID-19 hit, and businesses were forced to close, scale back,...

Kentucky Chamber releases 2021 Federal Priorities following 2020 elections, advocating for businesses

As Kentucky looks to recover and rebuild its economy from the coronavirus pandemic, the Kentucky Chamber has released its 2021 Federal Priorities. In addition to advocating on behalf of businesses at the state level, the Kentucky Chamber also advocates for pro-business policies in Washington, D.C. “Through great relationships with Kentucky’s federal delegation and with our colleagues at the US...

Kentucky Chamber president plans statewide tour to discuss key issues ahead of 2021 General Assembly

As Kentucky gears up for the 2021 General Assembly, the Kentucky Chamber will be traveling the state to discuss the business community’s top legislative priorities to help the state recover from the coronavirus pandemic and rebuilds its economy. Ashli Watts Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts will kick off the 2021 legislative preview tour on November 5 and will visit over 12 local communities....

Ashli Watts: Women, the workforce and the pandemic, a crisis that needs immediate attention

As a female executive, I have had to answer the same question for many years: “How are you able to balance your work and family?” Honestly, those questions have always frustrated me because they have never been asked of my husband. And I have been fortunate until recently, with a lot of help, to make it work. I like to think I’ve always worked hard. But like the experiences of many other people...

Laurel Grocery Company CEO Winston Griffin elected chairman of Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

Winston Griffin, CEO and chairman of Laurel Grocery Company, has been elected to serve as chairman of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce for the 2021 term. Griffin succeeds Nick Rowe, president of Kentucky American Water and senior vice president southeast division of American Water, whose term expires Sept. 30. Griffin began his career in 1997 at Laurel Grocery Company, a family-owned grocery wholesaler...

Kentucky native one step closer to approval as Ambassador of UN Economic and Social Council

Kentucky native Jennifer Yue Barber appeared before the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee this week for her appointment as ambassador of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. A University of Kentucky graduate and native of Frankfort, Barber is currently an attorney with Frost Brown Todd in Louisville. President Donald Trump appointed her to the ambassador post late last year, and...

Ashli Watts: Road to recovery depends on legal liability, unemployment fund, education/childcare

As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the road to Kentucky’s economic recovery will no doubt be longer than we would prefer, but the length of the journey will ultimately be decided by how we address three key issues: unemployment insurance, legal liability and the education and care for our children. Kentucky’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund now has a balance of $0. Mandated business...

Chamber president warns some employers could see major unemployment insurance tax increases

Kentucky’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund currently has a balance of $0. This comes as the Commonwealth has the highest unemployment rate in the nation and an unprecedented amount of benefits have been drawn throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Ashli Watts told legislators Thursday employers across the state are facing huge costs to replenish...

Kentucky Chamber launches statewide campaign to change stigma around substance use disorder

In an effort to help Kentuckians struggling with substance use disorder, assist businesses in developing recovery-friendly work environments, and engage Kentuckians interested in smart criminal justice reforms, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has announced the launch of “Kentucky Comeback,” a statewide initiative in partnership with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The opioid epidemic has led to...

Kentucky Chamber announces new accident and critical illness insurance program for businesses

In an effort to help businesses and their employees be better prepared for the unexpected, the Kentucky Chamber has announced a partnership with The Standard to offer members accident and critical illness insurance for their employees. Critical illness insurance gives employees a choice of affordable options for easing the financial burden that can come with a serious illness. Accident insurance can...

Kentucky Chamber recognizes 11 legislators as MVPs of 2020 General Assembly for strong leadership

The 2020 General Assembly saw progress on many issues important to the business community. The Kentucky Chamber announced the recognition of 11 legislators who displayed conspicuous actions that helped ensure this success. Recipients of the 2020 Kentucky Chamber MVP Award showed strong leadership for the business community by sponsoring or carrying Kentucky Chamber priority legislation, showing leadership...

Kentucky Distillers’ Association, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce to provide sanitizer to businesses

As Gov. Andy Beshear outlined the plan for Phase 1 of reopening Kentucky’s economy on Wednesday, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce are partnering to help businesses make sure they have the hand sanitizer needed to protect Kentuckians as they reopen. In the last few weeks, members of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association have produced and donated more than 125,000...

Ashli Watts: State businesses are stepping up in the fight against COVID-19; we will get through this

I don’t think any of us could have imagined what has transpired over the last week. The coronavirus has not only plagued the world as a public health pandemic, but it has very quickly devastated our economy and upended our normal business and daily routines. Our new reality includes shocking statistics like more than 9,000 people filing for unemployment insurance benefits in Kentucky in a single...

Ashli Watts: State businesses are stepping up in the fight against COVID-19; we will get through this

I don’t think any of us could have imagined what has transpired over the last week. The coronavirus has not only plagued the world as a public health pandemic, but it has very quickly devastated our economy and upended our normal business and daily routines. Our new reality includes shocking statistics like more than 9,000 people filing for unemployment insurance benefits in Kentucky in a single...

Commentary: Legislation shows Kentuckians path to long-term recovery for substance use disorders

By Ashli Watts and Jennifer Hancock Special to KyForward In communities across Kentucky, substance use disorders have taken a tremendous toll. Every day we are confronted with new data, reports and headlines that remind us of addiction’s staggering ripple effect.   But we cannot forget that behind the numbers, charts, graphs and television clips are real individuals who are suffering. They are our...

Smoke-free advocates rally in Frankfort for measures to decrease soaring youth use of e-cigarettes

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky’s Coalition for a Smoke-free Tomorrow rallied in Frankfort this week to call on state lawmakers to pass several measures aimed at decreasing electronic-cigarette use among the state’s youth, a phenomenon that continues to surge. Between 2017 and 2019, e-cigarette use more than quadrupled among the state’s middle-school students and...

Commentary: New generation set to lead Kentucky as torch is passed and challenges remain

By Ashli Watts and OJ Oleka Special to KyForward In 1960, as the American people entered a new year and, notably, a new decade, the electorate chose a new face to serve as its president. As the youngest president ever elected, John F. Kennedy’s historic victory signaled that a new generation of leadership was ready to serve. He would say so himself in his inaugural address: “Let the word go forth...

Kentucky Business-Education Roundtable sets 2020 priorities; includes four central goals

The Kentucky Business-Education Roundtable will push for key initiatives to support education and workforce development during the 2020 General Assembly, according to Kentucky Chamber of Commerce CEO Ashli Watts. The Roundtable, convened by the Chamber, is a group of public- and private-sector leaders working collaboratively on a long-term plan to fuel improvements in the state’s education attainment...

Ky. Chamber of Commerce unveils new workers’ comp program to reduce rates for businesses

In an effort to help businesses manage costs of employee benefits, the Kentucky Chamber has announced a partnership with ClearPath Mutual to offer its member’s workers’ compensation insurance at a reduced rate. “Our organization is dedicated to creating opportunities for Kentucky businesses. We have partnered with ClearPath Mutual on this workers’ compensation program to help our members’...