What is the work of Economic Development Partnership for Boyle County?
By JOHN ALBRIGHT
Boyle County Industrial Foundation
The Economic Development Partnership (often called EDP) is a group of nine different organizations that have chosen to work together to foster the economic well being of Boyle County.
As a past chairman of the EDP and as chairman of the Boyle County Industrial Foundation since 2009, I have had the unique opportunity to see first hand the time, effort and assistance our economic development professionals provide our community. As a result of the unique role of serving as chairman in both organizations, I would like to share some insight into the day-to-day work accomplished behind the scenes by having a dedicated staff to better our community.
Bringing new jobs to our community and retaining jobs in our community is always the number one priority for economic development organizations. Whether it is a new employer or an existing employer expanding, a new job is a new job that contributes to the tax base of local government and funds essential government services. In actuality the existing business expanding after initially locating in our community is a bigger “plus” than some realize. First it shows a long-term commitment to our community by the company, and secondarily it shows potential new employers that locating in Danville and Boyle County was a good decision in the first place.
Currently our economic development professionals are working on business recruitment and expansions. Regardless if it’s a new company or an expansion of one of our existing companies they all require our on going support and responsiveness when the potential project has a need for information, help in securing property or guidance on how best to accomplish their plans for bringing jobs to Boyle County.
So just to strictly focus on bringing in a new company isn’t always a good indicator of economic development success. Existing businesses are very important to our overall success in economic development especially when they expand. Even though our economic development staff doesn’t actively recruit an existing business to expand, local business management will tell you that our economic development professionals are extremely valuable to their expansion. They help to guide them through the steps they need to take navigating the governmental requirements, state and local incentives for expansion and workforce availability information, to name just a few of the areas we provide assistance. To say they would expand regardless of our help may be true if the “company” wanted to expend corporate manpower and funds to ascertain the same information and assistance that we can provide quicker and probably with more accuracy. That isn’t necessarily recruitment but it certainly falls under the heading of “retention.”
If we were not focused on the retention part it could certainly leave the door open so to speak for another community to step in and offer their “assistance” if our existing business was willing to relocate to their community! In my experience we have not had an existing business leave and move to another location because we didn’t provide professional assistance in their expansion.
Unfortunately not all projects or new businesses that show an interest in Boyle County actually make the decision to expand or come here and create new jobs. Yet we still expend time, effort and assistance and then ultimately we find out the project is closed or deemed inactive, but that’s how economic development in this day and age goes much of the time.
In the last 12-18 months the IF and EDP had 19 business recruitment or expansion projects with an interest in our community that withdrew their interest in bringing jobs to Boyle County. Many times an extensive RFI (Request for Information) is requested and given a short around time — usually a week or less. The information requested varies from project to project but usually focuses on the needs of the company and how well do we as a community meet those needs such as employees, water, electric, available land, and more. These RFI’s are very detailed and require our professional staff to get information together, reviewed and provided to either the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet or the specific company that requested the RFI.
The good news is since 2008 companies both new and existing have made over $200,000,000 in capital investments and created more than 1,100 new jobs in our community. In addition to these numbers we have had numerous companies make smaller capital investments or add less than 10 new jobs per project. These are all considered industrial activities. No commercial projects are included in these numbers partly due to developers preferring their investment in capital and jobs remain confidential.
We currently have at least 40 projects in the “pipeline” all with a different time frame or development stage. These projects include small, medium and large industrial and commercial projects. Some have been in the “pipeline” for a few years other are current this year.
So there is a tremendous amount of time effort and assistance that goes into every contact or potential prospect. Just because we aren’t announcing that a project has selected our community or an existing business will expand doesn’t indicate a lack of time and effort expended by our Economic Development professionals. There is much work that goes on behind the scenes. That will continue regardless of what the economic development structure is or changes to.
As the public debates the merits of economic development and attempts to establish a shared strategy for our area’s future we must decide as a community how much or how little we want to invest in this plan. It is a decision each of us will need to make.
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