Hardin County, KY Visioning Project
Hardin County, KY is one of Kentucky’s largest counties and is the principal county in the Elizabethtown – Fort Knox Metropolitan Statistical Area. Fort Knox, one of the country’s largest U.S. Army posts, is the county’s primary economic driver. Following the last round of Base Realignment and Closure (commonly referred to as BRAC), Fort Knox expanded significantly with the arrival of several new commands. Hardin County Government, recognizing the positive impact that base expansion would bring, elected to conduct a comprehensive visioning process for the future in partnership with the Lincoln Trail Area Development District and the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment. L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC was retained to conduct the project.
Luke Schmidt led the visioning process which included a strategic assessment of the community, an analysis of benchmark communities, an extensive survey of over 100 community leaders which resulted in the development of 24 strategic goals for the community to consider for implementation over the next 15 years. A new entity, Hardin County United, was created for the purpose of prioritizing the goals and developing implementation strategies.
Following its inception, HCU served as an agent for change and the catalyst for the following projects: the merger of four previously existing chambers of commerce into one new unified chamber – the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce – now one of the five largest chambers in Kentucky; a change (through voter referendum campaigns) in the community’s alcoholic beverage laws in the three largest cities; the first-ever mapping campaign of all educational offerings in the community; and the development of a new Early College & Career Center, which is now located adjacent to the Elizabethtown Community & Technical College campus.