“We’ve dealt with this as a community,” Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson told CNN Business on Wednesday.
To date, Watson said there were about 500 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city, which resulted in the hospitalization of 53 people and eight deaths.
But according to Mayor Watson, the city’s main private employers compete in some of the few industries that see economic profits during a pandemic and hire.
According to the mayor, Owensboro’s largest employer – his hospital, Owensboro Health – worked successfully throughout the pandemic.
The city also houses bourbon producers Sazerac and OZ Tyler. Not surprisingly, nationwide beverage and beer sales increased during the pandemic.
Owensboro also has a tobacco factory owned by Swedish Match. The Stockholm-based company said the second quarter saw surprising double-digit sales growth driven by demand for nicotine patches in the United States.
The President of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and CEO of Candens Caistlen Break says the city is also centrally located between some of the country’s largest settlements, including Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Nashville and Indianapolis, making it an optimal hub.
Break acknowledged that Owensboro’s luck was an anomaly, but said it was no accident.
“During the last recession, our economic development team invested a large sum of money in our city center, starting with a $ 40 million grant from the federal government,” Break said. “The private development that has taken place downtown because of this has actually put us at stake as a community. I think we are just lucky to have growth sectors in our community when the hit pandemic was still thriving and thriving.”
—Annalyn Kurtz contributed to the reporting.