Somerset and Pulaski County have a new designation, one that positions the community as the regional hub of the Lake Cumberland area.

The Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) partnered with the Somerset-Pulaski County Convention and Visitors Bureau (Lake Cumberland Tourism) to certify the city and county as The Capital of Lake Cumberland through the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office.

The registered service mark, primarily used in marketing efforts, will help communicate Somerset-Pulaski County is the regional leader for tourism and economic development. SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said the tagline will help unify marketing and recruitment efforts for both organizations.

“SPEDA enthusiastically supports initiatives that enhance the tourism experience and promote regionalism,” Girdler said. “Being able to officially identify ourselves as The Capital of Lake Cumberland opens the door to many opportunities to attract more visitors and show potential industry partners what wonderful resources this community and region have to offer.”

Tourism is Pulaski County’s largest industry. Lake Cumberland draws 4 million recreational visitors per year — more than Yellowstone National Park, and at one point the Grand Canyon — and is the No. 1 destination in Pulaski County. According to the 2018 Kentucky Department of Tourism economic impact report, visitors spent more than $119 million in Pulaski County, generating significant tax revenue and supporting nearly 1,100 tourism-related jobs.

As the largest city near the water, Somerset also has the distinction of being the Houseboat Capital of the World and is filled with attractions on and off the lake.

Lake Cumberland Tourism Executive Director Michelle Allen said she is grateful to SPEDA for making the designation official. The statement has become a cornerstone of her marketing efforts in recent months.

“We are thrilled to partner in naming Somerset-Pulaski County The Capital of Lake Cumberland,” Allen said. “Somerset-Pulaski County is the largest community in the five-county region surrounding the lake and it only seems fitting that it be called The Capital of Lake Cumberland. I am personally thrilled our county, city and economic leaders support the importance of tourism in our region.”

Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said The Capital of Lake Cumberland designation further positions the community as a leader statewide and will be an asset in spreading the word about Somerset-Pulaski County’s economic viability.

“Businesses don’t choose where to locate. People do,” Keck said. “Officially becoming The Capital of Lake Cumberland gives us an excellent talking point when sharing what’s best about our community with the people making those decisions. Quality of life and place is important in business recruitment as well as taking care of our people right here at home and I’m grateful for SPEDA’s dedication to both of these.”

Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley said Lake Cumberland’s creation forever transformed the economy for Somerset-Pulaski County and the entire region.

“The popularity of our lake is a vital part of the prosperity of our families,” Kelley said. “To be named The Capital of Lake Cumberland gives us credibility for future visitors to experience our lake right here in Somerset and Pulaski County. I am thrilled to receive this designation.”

Girdler said partnerships like these showcase the community’s collaborative spirit, which is one of the five leading factors that make Somerset-Pulaski County stand out.

“We can accomplish so much more when we’re working together,” Girdler said. “I am thankful for all of our community partners who truly have a desire to continue making Somerset and Pulaski County and outstanding place to live, work and play.”

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