EDP releases ‘funnel report,’ discusses potential for new, expanded business in Boyle County

Published 8:10 am Thursday, October 19, 2017

Big prospects and bourbon

The Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership has released its third quarterly “project funnel report” detailing for the public the numerous business development projects it has been working on. But perhaps the most intriguing prospect didn’t make it onto the list.

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A company that Jody Lassiter, CEO of the partnership, would only identify as a “manufacturer” has expressed interest in opening a facility in Boyle County that would “exceed $50 million in investment” and create “100-plus” jobs, Lassiter told the EDP board Wednesday.

The prospect cropped up a matter of days prior to Wednesday’s board meeting. Lassiter said he received a request for information (RFI) from the company through the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and had essentially 24 hours to gather the information and return it to the company on Monday.

Now, the company has a planned site visit with local economic development leaders in Boyle County today, Lassiter said.

Because the quarterly project funnel report was already completed when the RFI came in, the new project isn’t included on the report, Lassiter explained.

The report lists 78 different “inquiries” made by businesses looking at potentially locating or expanding in Boyle County. Out of those 78, 58 “qualified” by being a good match for Boyle County’s market and/or because there are appropriate sites where the business could locate, Lassiter said.

The number narrows again on the report to 35 businesses in the “due diligence” phase, where further questions are being answered and plans are being made. A total of 10 projects — or about 13 percent of the original 78 inquiries — have been announced; five are completed and five are in process, according to the report.

Completed projects identified on the report are:

• Mindsight Behavioral Health Specialty Group (a less than $100,000 investment creating 11-25 jobs that opened at 359 S. Fourth St. in February);

• Cattleman’s Roadhouse (a $100,000-$500,000 investment creating 51-100 jobs that opened in September);

• an expansion at TransNav Technologies Inc. (a $100,000-$500,000 investment creating an unspecified number of jobs that was completed in July);

• Bluegrass & Buttercream (a new downtown business that signed a lease in July); and 

• Flowers by EJ (a less than $100,000 investment creating one to 10 jobs).

Projects identified as “in progress” on the report are:

• McAfee Mowing and Landscaping (a $100,000-$500,000 investment to relocate and expand a downtown business on a 50-acre plot of land previously owned by the Kentucky School for the Deaf);

• Denyo Manufacturing (a $5 million to $10 million expansion creating 51-100 jobs that was announced at the end of August);

• Starbucks (a coffee house under construction along the Danville bypass, planned to open next year);

• Wilderness Trail Distillery (a $5 million to $10 million expansion creating one to 10 jobs currently in the construction phase); and

• Adkev Inc. (an $11 million-$25 million investment creating 51-100 jobs in the old Caterpillar plant at the Boyle County Industrial Park, slated to begin operations in 2019).

Many of the other projects on the report still in the inquiry, qualified or due diligence stages are identified in generic terms or by project codenames such as “Project Lexis,” “Project Lighthouse” and “Project Reno.”

Lassiter said the public version of the report released to the public is a far less detailed version of a “much larger” confidential report the EDP uses as it works to bring business to Boyle County.

“We are very, very concerned, focused and honoring confidentiality,” Lassiter said. “Which builds a level of trust not only with our existing industry and businesses but those we are trying to recruit, to know that information will be held confidentially, that proprietary information will be observed, that we will fulfill non-disclosure agreements …”

EDP Chair Ben Nelson said the idea for the funnel report came about thanks to Danville City Commissioner Denise Terry, who is now a member of the newly restructured EDP board of directors.

Terry used to question what the EDP was accomplishing, and she wasn’t getting any good answers, Nelson said.

“This is our attempt to … share with the community to answer what I lovingly attribute to the ‘Denise question,’ which is, ‘can somebody just tell me what we’ve got going on?’ In a way that we can talk about,” Nelson said.

“Even if the answer is, ‘there’s something in the works that we can’t talk about,’ citizens are OK with that,” Terry said.

Bourbon a target?

Among the projects on the report, Lassiter noted after the meeting, are five different projects related to bourbon and bourbon tourism.

Bourbon and alcohol tourism may become a new “target industry” for the EDP, based on comments made by Danville Mayor Mike Perros during the EDP meeting. Perros and Sally Davenport, CEO of Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, are co-leading a target industry committee for the EDP that’s fine-tuning a list of “target industries” the EDP should specifically pursue for business opportunities. The committee’s recommendations could arrive for the full EDP board to consider next month.

Bourbon and bourbon tourism was not originally identified as a target industry, but “we’re going to attempt to add a late entry into this list and that is the distillery business,” Perros said.

Brian Hutzley, CFO at Centre College and a new member of the EDP board, said bourbon tourism and agritourism “go together hand in hand” and are potentially a great target for Boyle County.

“I’ve got a lot of friends around the country, family — but everyone that’s visited me so far haven’t really come to visit me; they’ve come to visit bourbon,” said Hutzley, who joined Centre in 2016. “… We’re right there, so taking advantage of that makes a lot of sense.”

Perros said the current boom in the bourbon industry is “massive beyond our comprehension.”

“Danville is right in the middle — we can draw those people to the overnight stuff here,” Terry said. “Because they can go one end of the Bourbon Trail, come here and stay, do the other end on another day. So you’ve got a three-day span there.”