Just over two months into her tenure as Mayor of Corbin, Suzie Razmus spoke to a packed house at the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday to update the members on projects and developments in the city.
Razmus addressed several economic issues. She explained that while the coal industry and the railroad industry are in decline, locally, the area is seeing steady economic growth.
“I really feel like our future is bright as far as bringing in new business and industry,” Razmus said.
While Corbin once looked to companies such as CSX, U.S. Steel and American Greeting Card for jobs, Razmus noted companies from Japan, France and, most recently England, are employing more and more local residents.
“We have our own little UN going there,” Razmus said.
Razmus said among the major drawing cards are the quality of the school system and medical care, along with the natural beauty and outdoor activities available in the area.
“We have a lot going for us,” Razmus said.
In an effort to further set Corbin apart to prospective employers, a group of business leaders and city commissioners is working to create potential incentives the city may offer to companies seeking to locate in Corbin.
Razmus noted that other communities offer such incentives and this is an attempt to make Corbin competitive.
“We are not going to give away the farm,” Razmus said.
One project that is still ongoing is Keeneland’s quarterhorse racing track to be located off of the Corbin bypass.
When asked about the status of the project, Razmus said she has not heard anything new on it.
“I would think that by the fall we may hear something,” she said.
Keeneland purchased the property with the goal of opening the facility in 2016.
However, numerous issues, including an infestation of an endangered species of bat in a wooded area of the property has delayed construction.
The racing commission has taken no action of the application for the racing license.
Vince Gabbert, vice president and chief operating officer of Keeneland, said previously that once construction begins, the plan is to have the facility ready and open for business within 14 months.
Crews were active at the site in the spring of 2018 clearing off brush.
The project includes a 1,723-foot straight racing track, along with barn facilities, an entertainment center and grandstand. In addition, the property has six out parcels for commercial development and property allocated for a hotel/motel facility.
Gabbert said the goal remains to host 10-12 days of racing throughout the summer.
The facility would include 250 “historical racing machines.”
The slot style gaming machines have been the subject of much scrutiny, and an ongoing court case. Opponents claim they are little more than run-of-the-mill casino-style slot machines that are illegal in Kentucky. Supporters say the results the machines produce are based on past races and that wagering on them is considered “pari-mutuel,” just like normal horse racing. Essentially, bettors are betting against other bettors, not against the facility housing the machines.
The machines are currently allowed at tracks in the state with active horse racing and track operators say they serve a vital role in allowing race purses to be higher.