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Western Kentucky Prepares for I-69 Designation

Business and community leaders will discuss potential impact of I-69 next Tuesday in Madisonville.
The Pennyrile Parkway and the future of I-69 in western Kentucky. Community leaders are holding a conference next Tuesday in Madisonville looking at the opportunities ahead. The Pennyrile Parkway already sees traffic similar to highways like I-64. But business leaders say they want to see more economic opportunity when the Pennyrile becomes an interstate.

It sounds like an interstate. It looks like one. But it's not one yet.

"This is really a game changer for western Kentucky," says Lee Lingo of the Madisonville-Hopkins Co. Chamber of Commerce.

That game changer is Interstate 69. The Pennyrile Parkway will be designated as part of the new highway running from the U.S.-Canada border to Texas.  That's why business and community leaders want to plan for its expected impact.

"We'll be able to provide economic opportunities, education opportunities, tourism opportunities for people that are already here and people coming to this area," Lingo says.

"Parkways are nice, but they don't carry the same weight when it comes to site selection for manufacturers," says Kent Waide of Ruby Concrete. It's an impact some say has been lacking since the Pennyrile was built.

"There were industries that would come in and see how difficult it would be to get their goods and services here, so they wouldn't look at us," says Kent Mills of Old National Bank. Business leaders say being a part of an interstate is a big part of economic development. For them. I-69 is the road to more business, and more growth.

"There's more people that will look at our area because we'll be on an interstate, and they'll look at us as a viable place to locate their businesses," Waide says.

"That gives us an opportunity to help those new customers coming in with loans, deposits, house loans. Increasing your customer base would help tremendously," says Mills.

Chamber of Commerce officials say there also must be structural upgrades before the Pennyrile becomes an interstate.
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