Mt. Sterling Praised as One of America's 100 Best Communities for Young People

By Valerie Pascoe on April 28, 2011 at 6:25 pm EST
Ethan Johnson, 5, of Mt. Sterling casts a line at the Easy Walker Park pond.

PHOTO CREDIT: Greg Emens

For Tony Mellone‚ the view of Mt. Sterling from the sidelines of the soccer fields at Easy Walker Park is the best in town. The busy soccer coach and father of three boys says the community’s emphasis on children and families‚ as well as its superior quality of life and strong economy‚ make it an ideal place to work and live. “Mt. Sterling offers a young family like ours a lot. If you look around‚ you’ll see the new schools‚ the parks‚ the thriving businesses and just a great supportive community‚” says Mellone‚ who relocated to Mt. Sterling over a year ago to work as a human resources manager for Nestlé‚ one of the area’s largest employers. For the second time‚ Mt. Sterling has been chosen as one of the country’s 100 Best Communities for Young People by America’s Promise Alliance for Youth‚ a nod to the area’s dedication to providing a safe and caring environment for children. Mt. Sterling also has received national recognition for its strides in economic development and was recently chosen as a Top 10 Micropolitan Area by Site Selection magazine. With more manufacturing jobs per capita than almost any other community its size in the state‚ the Mt. Sterling-Montgomery County area is enjoying a sustained period of economic prosperity. In addition to being one of only two counties east of Interstate 75 with more people commuting in to work than out‚ Montgomery County also has seen its average per capita income rise from $21‚398 to $22‚115 since 2005. According to Sandy Romenesko‚ executive director of the Mt. Sterling-Montgomery County Industrial Authority/­Chamber of Commerce‚ expansions at existing companies such as Lexington Metal Systems‚ Quality Cabinets and Nestle – which produces Hot Pockets frozen entreés at its Mt. Sterling plant – have helped boost the local economy by adding 482 new manufacturing positions over the past two years. “Montgomery County really stands on its own from a business perspective. There’s one county between here and Lexington‚ so we’re not a bedroom com­mu­nity‚ even though we’re conveniently located to the Lexington market. We call ourselves the economic engine for this central Kentucky region‚” says Romen­esko‚ who helped recruit companies such as the Japanese automotive fuel system components firm‚ Kyosan Denso Manufacturing of Kentucky‚ to the area. In an effort to demonstrate the unique character of Mt. Sterling and Montgomery County to locals and newcomers‚ Romenesko and other area leaders involved with the Chamber of Commerce and Industrial Authority recently began a branding campaign that features a new community pledge emphasizing good citizenship‚ strong family values and respect for the environment. Curt Steger‚ president and CEO of Commonwealth Bank‚ has a copy of the pledge displayed prominently in his office and throughout the bank. “The goal in 2007 is to get the pledge into every business‚ home‚ church and school‚” says Steger‚ who also serves as chairman of the board for the Industrial Authority. “It’s our commitment to each other and it links us to future generations.” For young entrepreneurs like Brandi Kratzer‚ who recently opened a tumbling and cheerleading studio in Mt. Sterling‚ Montgomery County’s stable economy and strong sense of community means an optimistic outlook for the future. “It feels like I have the support of the entire community behind me and that I can succeed because everyone is pulling for me‚” she says. “I don’t think I would have found the same advantages in a larger community.”

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