Murray State Theses and Dissertations


Over the last half-century, numerous factors have resulted in a significant economic downturn in American manufacturing, with particularly negative impacts on rural regions throughout the country. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine one rural Kentucky community’s attempts to bolster its industrial relevance, as well as the region’s overall economy, by employing an economic development strategy known as Kentucky’s Work Ready Communities (WRC). This initiative, introduced by the Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board in 2012, aims to attract new or expanding industry to communities or regions by demonstrating a strong infrastructure and a sustainable workforce that is prepared to meet the needs of industry. Daviess County, located in northwestern Kentucky, was the first Kentucky community to earn the certification. This study chronicles one community’s success in earning the certification, while also aiming to identify specific economic impacts related to the certification and how this economic development program has impacted workforce development strategies and collaboration within the Daviess County community. Interviews with key stakeholders who were actively involved in the community strategy were conducted to gather perception data related to economic improvements that have resulted from achievement of the certification and to determine if workforce development strategies have improved as a result of the WRC certification initiative. The results of the study yielded positive findings for both research questions posed. Further, the results of this case serve to inform other rural communities that may look to replicate success in strengthening the local economy by espousing a similar economic strategy.

Year manuscript completed


Year degree awarded


Author's Keywords

Economic Development, Workforce Development, Educational Attainment, Soft Skills, National Career Readiness Certificate

Dissertation Committee Chair

Dr. Brian Parr

Committee Chair

Dr. Brian Parr

Committee Member

Dr. Kemaly Parr

Committee Member

Dr. Samir Patel

Document Type