WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), and U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06) announced Friday the Bluegrass Area Development District (ADD) will receive a $455,828 competitive federal grant from the Department of Defense Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) to help the local community prepare for the end of the chemical weapons destruction mission at the Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) in 2023.
According to a press release, the chemical demilitarization mission employs nearly 1,450 highly-skilled, highly-paid workers at BGAD and has contributed more than $1 billion in local payroll since 2006. By preparing for the eventual conclusion of BGAD’s chemical weapons destruction mission, Bluegrass ADD’s Resiliency Plan will provide crucial support for the housing, retail, and commercial industries which have benefitted from the employment and local contracting opportunities created by the site. Leader McConnell, Senator Paul, and Congressman Barr sent letters to the OLDCC advocating for this community’s competitive federal grant application.
“While I am thrilled that the chemical weapons destruction mission at the Blue Grass Army Depot is nearing completion, I know it is also important we help Madison County prepare for the eventual closure of the site. With today’s grant announcement, I am confident local authorities will have the resources necessary to successfully handle the transition,” said Senator McConnell in the release. “For many years, the Blue Grass Army Depot has provided thousands of well-paying jobs and supported Madison County’s economy. Now, I look forward to those highly-trained employees contributing to Kentucky’s economy through new industries and opportunities.”
“Supporting economic development and job creation in Kentucky is one of my top priorities, and I’m glad to work with local officials and our Congressional delegation to secure this opportunity and continue my work on behalf of all Kentuckians,” said Senator Paul.
“This grant award is an important step for Madison County to develop a roadmap for transitioning thousands of Kentuckians from employment at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) once the critical chemical demilitarization project is completed. I was happy to support and advocate for this grant through a letter of support to the Department of Defense,” said Congressman Barr. “These Kentuckians are performing an essential public service to keep our communities safe and this grant ensures that there is a strong economic plan prepared for the region so that thousands of Kentucky families are not left behind after the important BGCAPP mission is complete.”
“Madison County has been the beneficiary of so many jobs, resources and programs for the past 30 years during the chemical weapon destruction project at the Blue Grass Army Depot. As the project nears completion, it is vital that we begin planning for life after CSEPP. While we are grateful for everything that this program has afforded Madison County the ability to do in the past, today’s grant is about our future. It will assist us in preparing for that transition. It is an important step for Madison County to work alongside Senator McConnell, Senator Paul, Congressman Barr and the Bluegrass ADD to develop a plan to continue to support the economy and preparedness infrastructure after the program’s completion. We want to make sure this program continues to leave a long-term, positive impact on our community,” Madison County Judge-Executive Reagan Taylor said.
“The Bluegrass ADD is very excited about this grant opportunity from the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC). We understand how much it means to Madison County, Richmond, Berea and the region. We appreciate Senator McConnell’s long term commitment to the Blue Grass Army Depot to ensure that not only are the chemical weapons safely disposed, but that the mission is also completed with minimal impact to the economy,” said Bluegrass Area Development District Executive Director David Duttlinger.
"The OLDCC grant will help avoid a potentially severe economic downturn as the 1500 jobs disappear when the project ends. It provides us an opportunity to assess possibilities and plan for a stable economic future,” said Kentucky Environmental Foundation Program Director Craig Williams.
“Since its outset, the Chemical Surety Material storage mission, and subsequent demilitarization operation, has been a joint venture between the DoD, other federal agencies, local civilian leadership at all levels, and the citizens of the Commonwealth trusting us to get it right. These BGADD funds are an important first step in the many required transitional activities that signify the end of one designated mission, the safe storage and successful demilitarization of all Chemical Surety Material, and the next potential opportunity for the people of Madison County. I’m consistently impressed in the relationships and level of shared understanding this entire process fosters between all involved parties and remain confident in a safely and successfully executed transition plan moving forward,” said Colonel Stephen Dorris, Commander of the Blue Grass Army Depot.
“Congratulations to the Blue Grass Area Development District for their work that resulted in this important grant award,” said Michael S. Abaie, Program Executive Officer for the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program. “This will assist Madison County and the surrounding region, which has supported the nation’s defense by storing a category of weapons of mass destruction for more than half a century, toward achieving a sustainable economic transition.”