Kim Huston announces April retirement as chief of economic development efforts


Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024 — After nearly 30 years working in local economic development, Kim Huston, president of the Nelson County Economic Development Agency and the Bardstown Industrial Development Corporation announced Thursday her plan to retire Thursday, April 11, 2024.


In her role as head of economic development and industrial recruiting, Huston has been a driving force behind the county’s economic success. She has fostered relationships, implemented innovative programs, and recruited dozens of new companies to the county, whether they are located in an industrial park or in a small retail space downtown.

These efforts have helped generate more than $1.5 billion dollars in industrial and commercial investment into Nelson County.

In her retirement letter to the NCEDA board, she noted that “I am so grateful for the support of my boards and camaraderie of my incredible colleagues in the Chamber, Tourism, Main Street and the Bourbon Capital Alliance … The relationships forged have been invaluable. I will carry a profound sense of accomplishment and pride in what we achieved as a city and a county.”

Huston gave special recognition to her executive assistant, Kim Rogers, who has worked with Huston since her first day on the job.

Huston went on to say that she has had the most incredible experiences fostering business relationships all over the world including a visit to Japan where she visited the corporate headquarters of every Japanese company in Nelson County.

“Their appreciation of my visit is something I will always treasure,” she said.

One special memory occurred in July of 2012 when Bardstown was named the Most Beautiful Small Town in America by USA Today and Rand McNally.


“I have never seen this community embrace anything like this in my career. There was a sense of pride and passion that brought us all together during the judging process. I remember the Judges explaining to me that we won because we were beautiful on the inside and out, referring to the residents and the love they showed for Bardstown.”

Nelson County Judge Executive Tim Hutchins expressed his appreciation of Huston’s contributions in bringing new industries and encourage existing industry expansions.

“Kim has been a big part in the success of Nelson County. I wish her all the best in her retirement and all future endeavors,” Hutchins said.

Bardstown Mayor Dick Heaton said the community was blessed to have Huston at the helm of its economic development efforts.


“We have been blessed to have her lead our Economic Development efforts here for more than 20 years, Heaton said. “It was the passion for her work and our community that made her so successful, which will be her legacy in economic development not only here but throughout the state. It has been my pleasure to work with her and have her serve our community in so many ways for all her adult life. She has reached a period in her life where she deserves to step away from this job and see what the next phase of her life will be.”

Huston said working to expand the bourbon industry in Nelson County was one of the most rewarding chapters of her career.

“These distilleries, both established and new, have poured resources into expanding facilities, enhancing production capabilities, and creating immersive visitor experiences. It has been fulfilling to witness visitors from around the
world learn about our rich bourbon history. The substantial investment, job creation, and overall economic impact of this industry have played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape and prosperity of our community. I have a love and passion for the bourbon industry and will continue to be a supporter and advocate for it.”

David Bratcher, president and CEO of MPG, owners of Lux Row Distillery, credited Huston’s work that led them to locate their new distillery here.

“She was instrumental in showing us why Bardstown was the place to build our distillery. While we had options in other areas of Kentucky, after meeting Kim and her team, we knew the home for Lux Row Distillers was Bardstown.”

Hiroyuki Takigawa, president of Takigawa, one of the county’s newest industries, credited Huston and her team for their assistance that helped them decide to expand to Nelson County.

“When we were considering where to locate our first U.S. business, from the first contact with Kim and her group, she provided very good advice and the services provided were top-notch. Her willingness to respond to our needs was exceptional and along with her welcoming nature and hospitality, she was instrumental in our decision to locate our new facility in Bardstown,” Takigawa said. “We also sincerely appreciated the contacts she brought to Takigawa that helped get us operating very quickly. Kim provided us with a first-class experience, and we wish her well in retirement.”

During her career, Huston has served on many regional and state boards.

She currently serves as chairman of the Kentucky Tourism Finance Development Authority, is a member of the Kentucky Association of Economic Development Foundation Board, is a member of the Elizabethtown Community and Technical College Board and a member of the board at the Guthrie Opportunity Center.

Huston’s affection for Nelson County shines through the three books she has authored including Small Town Sexy, The Allure of Living in Small Town America, The Rebirth of Bourbon and BARDSTOWN, a full-color coffee table book.

“I turn 65 in March and that has always been my retirement milestone and I am excited to start a new chapter.” she said. “While retiring from NCEDA and BIDC, I still have many projects I hope to see to their conclusion, including the building of the Bardstown Indoor Sports and Aquatic Complex, a passion project I have been working on for many years.”


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