Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Commerce Cabinet Secretary Jim Host to Retire

Press Release Date:  Thursday, September 29, 2005  
Contact Information:  Carla Blanton
Michael Goins
Jodi Whitaker

Host Cites Health and Family Reasons

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Commerce Cabinet Secretary Jim Host announced his resignation today.  His resignation is effective Friday, October 14th. A replacement has not been named.

In his letter to Governor Ernie Fletcher, Host wrote, “I have tried to fulfill the commitment I made to you when you asked me to join your administration in November 2003 of two years. However, several issues cause me to leave before that time including personally dealing with my wife’s health as well as mine.”

“Jim is an exemplary person and has done a tremendous job helping me move Kentucky forward,” said Governor Fletcher.  “His hard work in developing the “Unbridled Spirit” brand to market our commonwealth, to developing the first comprehensive energy plan for Kentucky, to putting his heart and soul into bringing a new arena to Louisville are evidence of his great passion in improving the lives of all Kentuckians.”

Host will continue to support the Governor in any way possible, including being involved in ensuring the success of the Louisville arena project. However, he has resigned his membership from other state boards and commissions.

During Host’s tenure as Secretary, the Commerce Cabinet achieved numerous goals:

  • a statewide energy policy was developed.
  • significantly reduced state parks annual operating loss
  • coordinated the Louisville Arena Task Force as it made its final recommendation
  • created a state branding campaign evolving around “Unbridled Spirit”
  • aggressive effort to promote and fund new tourism campaigns in Kentucky
  • greatly increased minority staffing levels in the cabinet
  • lead the state to the nation’s largest percentage of growth in broadband use (’03-’04)
  • formed the Kentucky Sports Authority and have lured major events to the state.

Host previously served as chairman of Host Communications, Inc., which he founded in Lexington, KY in 1972. The company became a subsidiary of Bull Run Corporation in December 1999.

Host began his career as a sportscaster in 1957 and was a play-by-play announcer of University of Kentucky football and basketball for the Kentucky Central Sports Network and WVLK-Radio. He joined Procter & Gamble where he spent several years in marketing and sales. He returned to Lexington in 1964 and was involved with his own real estate, building and insurance companies until he entered politics in 1967.

At age 29, he became the youngest member of Kentucky Governor Louie Nunn's Cabinet as the commissioner of the Department of Public Information and then Commissioner of the Department of Parks where he worked to initiate the Kentucky Horse Park. He became the Republican Party's nominee for Lieutenant Governor, but lost in the general election. Host opened Jim Host & Associates in 1972. His first contract was with the Lexington Tourist and Convention Bureau, which led to the formation of the Lexington Center Corporation and the building of Rupp Arena. The company began rapid development in 1974 with two contracts, a basketball and football radio agreement with the University of Kentucky and an executive management relationship with the National Tour Association.

The company became nationally known for the administration of affinity, lifestyle, sports marketing and association management for universities, high school associations, collegiate athletic conferences, associations and corporations. It was named one of the top five sports marketing companies in the world by SportsBusiness Journal in May 2000.

Active in civic and charitable activities, Host has chaired many campaigns and has been associated with more than 40 organizations and boards. He has received a number of honors from myriad interests. Host, for example, in 2000 was named to the University of Kentucky Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame and the state of Kentucky's Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2001, he received one of Kentucky's top civic awards, Kentuckian of the Year by the Chandler Foundation. Host is past-chair of the Lexington Chamber of Commerce, and past-president of the Lexington Rotary Club and the Blue Grass Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He is also a member of the Travel Industry of America's Hall of Leaders and the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Directors Hall of Fame.

He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and was awarded one of the University's first baseball scholarships. He played briefly in the Chicago White Sox system until an arm injury forced him to retire.