The true beauty of Paducah from an economic development perspective is not found merely in the scenic views of our rivers, in the galleries of Lower Town, or in rolling countryside that surrounds us. The true beauty of Paducah is the vast array of assets in our community, which allow us to compete for economic development opportunities in every sector imaginable. Some of these assets we simply are blessed with (rivers, rail, etc.). Others have happened because of the hard work of so many of our leaders. When I view Paducah, I view the assets created by our community leadership as far more beautiful than those which we were naturally blessed with because it’s those assets which allow us to have a diverse economic development effort.
For example, in 1992 local leaders partnered together to create the Informa-tion Age Park. Did you know we announced three deals for that park recently? TeleTech announced in November their intentions to hire 300 people in this park in addition to 150 in the office we vacated downtown. Superior Care Home is developing a $12 million assisted living facility in the park leading to 25 new jobs for skilled nurses and providing a great service to our community from a quality of life standpoint. AEP River Operations purchased the former Resource Center solidifying their strong presence in Paducah now employing more than 500 people in our area. Talk about diversity, we have added a call center, healthcare provider, and river company to the park dreamed of 20 years ago. That diversity is what I call beautiful.
Consider the diversity of these announcements from the past two years:
• Murray State University Paducah Campus (Higher Education; $10 million investment; 2,000 students)
• Whitehall Industries (Automotive Supplier; $12 million investment; 150 jobs)
• TeleTech (Call Center; $5 million investment; 450 jobs)
• Maaco Organiques (Pharmaceutical Manufacturing; $9 million investment; 40 jobs)
• Four Rivers Coal Terminal (Heavy Industry; $20 million investment; 40 jobs)
• H.T. Hackney expansion (Distribution; $15 million investment; 40 new jobs)
• Superior Care Home expansion (Healthcare; $12 million investment; 25 new jobs)
• Shoreline Steel (Heavy Industry; $2 million investment; 13 new jobs)
• VMV Paducahbuilt expansion (Heavy Industry; $1 million investment; 25 new jobs)
• AEP River Operations (River Industry; $2.5 million investment)
Now that’s a diverse list with growth in the automotive, healthcare, education, heavy industry, distribution, river, and service sectors.
Success at economic development is all about using your current assets and developing other assets. We now have a legitimate river industrial site with road access being planned, we have an industrial park with multiple rail service, and we have a commerce park for office type projects. These literally allow us to compete for almost every kind of economic development project imaginable.
In addition to property you also need a reliable workforce. Yet again the leadership of Paducah has risen to give us a tool other communities don’t have: The Community Scholarship. In the past year, I have presented our community to over 100 prospects, attempting to persuade them to give Paducah a look. The one thing that always grabs their attention is the Community Scholarship, WKCTC’s program to award free tuition to local students based on academic and attendance standards. Business owners want a workforce that will show up on time and show discipline. This program proves to prospects that we are committed to education and that we are dedicated to producing a workforce with a strong work ethic at its heart.
Good things are happening in Paducah on many fronts, and I am convinced great days are ahead!
Chad Chancellor was named President/CEO of Paducah Economic Development in May, 2010. Prior to Paducah, Chancellor served in an economic development capacity in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. Chancellor is a 2004 graduate of Mississippi State University and received the 2010 Southern Economic Development Council’s Chairman’s Award for his service to the economic development profession.