Report: Businesses showing increased interest in Boyle

Business prospects were very interested in Boyle County during the first three months of 2018: The Economic Development Partnership saw an 87.5-percent increase in project inquiries during the first quarter of this year compared to the first quarter of 2017.

“I think that’s tremendous,” said Hal Goode, chief operating officer for the EDP, Wednesday. “We’re seeing a lot of project activity on different scales.”

The project inquiries are documented in the EDP’s quarterly “project funnel report.” The report details how many prospective businesses asked about locating or expanding in Boyle County; how many “qualified” by finding a site or other information that made Boyle a viable option; which of those have moved on to “due diligence” or planning; and how many have gone on to announce their project or open a business.

The funnel report lists 30 inquiries made from Jan. 1 to March 31. Goode said there were 16 inquiries made during the same time period in 2017.

Of those 30 inquiries, nine have since been lost to “attrition” and are considered no longer active. Reasons for attrition included:

• one project determined there wasn’t enough market demand to open a new pet supplies store;

• four projects had requirements for building space and location that Boyle County could not meet;

• three projects either stopped responding or decided not to pursue further; and

• one project decided to look at locations in a different state.

One project has already proceeded all the way to announcing and opening for business: Love Your Mother Lawns LLC launched on March 28, about two weeks after an initial inquiry was made with the EDP. The business has an initial investment of less than $100,000, according to the report.

Six of the projects have moved through the “qualified” stage to the “due diligence” phase, including:

• Project Diamond, an industrial expansion project in Danville;

• Project Apple, a new industry considering an investment of between $10 million and $25 million that would create an estimated 25-49 jobs in Danville;

• Project Delta, a new commercial business considering locating in Boyle County;

• an investor inquiry about a new commercial business in Danville;

• a small business inquiry about a new commercial business in Danville; and

• the Child Daycare Center 2 project, which would be a new commercial business in Junction City.

Child care solutions are big focus for Boyle County right now, due to the pending closure of A Children’s Place — a child care business near the Boyle County Industrial Park that cares for 130 children.

Goode said six of the 30 inquiries were about new child care facilities or expansion of existing facilities.

Dr. Patten Mahler, assistant professor of economics at Centre College, told members of the EDP board Wednesday that “(EDP President) Jody (Lassiter) and Hal are working hard, exploring every kind of person who wants to expand their child care or come in and bring in a new one.”

Mahler is spearheading a volunteer task force with Tom Poland, looking into solutions for child care in the community.

“I’m a labor economist. I’m framing this as a workforce issue,” she said. “(In the) short run, trying to make sure we can keep these families in town and able to work; and in the long run thinking about how the child care is going to affect school readiness and the workforce …

“We’re interested in bringing stakeholders together in the community to try to see how we can kind of improve child care capacity and identify models from other communities to borrow and kind of paste into ours.”

Five projects on the funnel report are explicitly labeled as being about child care centers. Of those, one has been lost to attrition — Child Daycare Center 1. It was a potential new commercial business in Danville that proceeded to the “due diligence phase,” but now the “prospect decided not to pursue (the) business opportunity,” according to the report.

Besides the Child Daycare Center 2 project in Junction City, there was another inquiry made about a new commercial business in Junction City, named Child Daycare Center 3. That project has not moved beyond the inquiry phase, but has not been lost to attrition.

The Childcare Daycare Center 4 project would be a new commercial business in Danville; it has moved past the inquiry phase to “qualified.”

The Childcare Daycare Center 5 project would be an expansion of an existing commercial business in Perryville; it is also in the “qualified” phase.