It's Derby weekend in Louisville. Even though it is raining, everybody seems just a little more excited and happy.
Most people in Louisville love Derby weekend. It's a reason to get dressed up, go to parties with your friends, and celebrate. It's also BIG business for our city. From the hotels, restaurants, and retailers to the people who live near the track and sell parking spaces on their lawns, this weekend brings lots of revenue into the state. According to the Louisville Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Derby weekend has an economic impact of more the $400 million locally.
That's a big impact.
But, the Derby isn't the only reason people come to Kentucky. People come for our National and State parks. They come to East Kentucky to ride their horses and their ATV's. They come to our local festivals and art fairs. They come to our Aquarium. They come to our museums. They come to fish in our many lakes. They come to Keeneland. They come to sample bourbon at the distilleries on the bourbon trail.
All those visits to our great state add up, in fact, in 2015, tourism generated nearly $14 billion in economic impact to the Commonwealth.
That is VERY BIG!
And none of that would have happened without the transportation network that we provide.
Without the access at our airports, highways, bridges, municipal and local roads (how else do you get to places to ride your ATV?), and the transit moving people to work, our state would never realize nearly $14 billion in economic impact.
And most people will never think about the access all those roads, bridges, rail lines, riverports, transit systems, and airports provide to all those tourist destinations until there is a failure in the system. Until the road is too bad to get to the distillery or the bus route is cancelled making it too hard for people to get to work at the track, or the airport runway isn't long enough to accommodate the jets people are using, people won't think about the impact their transportation network has on their ability to see and experience all Kentucky has to offer.
So, when we invest in our transportation network, we're doing more than just investing in a road or a bridge or a runway or a bus. We're also investing in our tourism industry - and helping all those hotels, distilleries, retailers, parks, and restaurants accommodate more and more visitors each year.
That seems like a safe bet to me.