Remarks delivered by Secretary Elaine L. Chao at the Ribbon cutting of the new terminal at Barkley Regional Airport

July 6, 2023

Remarks prepared for delivery by
Secretary Elaine L. Chao
24th U. S. Secretary of Labor & 18th U. S. Secretary of Transportation
Ribbon cutting of the new terminal at Barkley Regional Airport
Paducah, Kentucky

It’s great to be here with Secretary Jim Gray, Chairman Comer, McCracken County Judge Executive Craig Clymer, Paducah Mayor George Bray, Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Brent Housman and of course, Leader McConnell.   I also want to acknowledge a special guest, Winsome Lenfert, former FAA deputy administrator for airports who did a wonderful job for our country.

I’m thrilled to be back in the Purchase Area, especially on a day like this!

Whenever I return to Paducah, I am always reminded of the ECCIOPA (Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation office), the “Resource Center” that I established as Secretary of Labor that has helped so many people starting with the first check of $100,000 given on August 1, 2001 to Mrs. Clara Harding.

Then, during my time as U. S. Secretary of Transportation, we not only recognized Paducah as being worthy of a MARAD Gateway office, but also for awarding of the BUILD grant to help finalize the amazing riverfront project.

Today, though, we stand to honor the hard work and dedication of so many community leaders.

Over 20 years ago, a new airport terminal was just a dream for Paducah – a reality the community may never see.  But through it all, just like the Purchase Area always exemplify, you never gave up.

When the U. S. Department of Transportation staff visited the current terminal and told me about the need, it was an easy sell and I’m proud to have been part of the effort to fully fund this beautiful new terminal.

And I can speak from experience, Paducah and McCracken County have always brought the largest and most prominent fly-in to Washington led by Deputy Mayor of Paducah and President of the Chamber, Sandra Wilson.  You had the support of not only elected officials but also the business community.  And, anytime a community can speak with one unified voice, it will be successful.

I’m proud of what I was able to achieve as your Secretary of Transportation.

But throughout his whole career, your senior Senator worked tirelessly on this project and never stopped reminding everyone how important the Purchase area is.   I am very proud of what he has delivered for Kentucky, year after year.  He’s the only one of the four top leaders of the Congress that is not from New York or California.  Kentucky punches above its weight because of Mitch.   And, now I’m pleased to turn the podium over to your senior United States Senator, Leader Mitch McConnell.

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