Democratic Governor Andy Beshear welcomed a new friend to Madison County.

On Tuesday, Beshear along with Madison County officials, welcomed Buc-ee the Beaver during the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new Buc-ee's Travel Center.

A Texas-based company, Buc-ee's are one-of-a-kind travel centers with their specialty food, merchandise, clean facilities — and all things Buc-ee the Beaver.

"I know you love where you are from, but welcome to what I think is the greatest state in the United States, and we look forward to the future with your company," Beshear said to co-owner and founder of the chain, Arch "Beaver" Aplin III.

In July, Buc-ee's and the Madison County leaders announced the new travel center will be located in Richmond off of the Duncannon Exit on I-75.

But on Tuesday, the ground was being broken, and equipment was moving to make Richmond the home of the most northern location of Buc-ee's. The site will feature 120 gas pumps and a 53,000 square foot facility.

Governor Beshear told those in attendance it was the most wonderful feeling to be in person for the groundbreaking.

"What else is wonderful is the work that is going on right behind us," Beshear said. "For anyone who has been to the south and driven on I-10 or I-20, you know Buc-ee's. You also know that Buc-ee's is an institution, not a stop."

What was even better, Beshear beamed, was the nine billion dollar investment coming to Kentucky was also bringing more jobs to the region.

According to Richmond officials and Beshear, the Buc-ee's facility will bring around 200 jobs to Madison County. He said investments such as this one were crucial in a post-COVID lifestyle, which he stated was approaching with the help of accessible vaccinations.

He stated now more than ever, companies like Buc-ee's and AppHarvest wanted to procure space in Kentucky and regions such as Madison County.

"Why not here?" Beshear asked. "That is something that Richmond, Madison County is grabbing. There is so much going on in that region, and folks, we have been working this whole time, and it is finally paying off. We are starting to see Kentucky secure a place as a leader in the post-COVID-19 economy. The future is more open than it has ever been, and now is the time that we grasp it."

Richmond Mayor Robert Blythe agreed and said the ground breaking was something to celebrate.

"What a day to be part of the Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky community," Blythe began.

Blythe admitted to the large crowd he became "misty-eyed" when the project was certain, and the ground breaking was marked on the calendars.

"Any mayor would be proud of this day," he smiled. "Today, this is a joy of mine and ours."

Buc-ee's Travel Center is expected to open within the next year. For more information, visit buc-ees.com.

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