EDP donates $10K for advanced manufacturing center

Published 6:37 am Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership is going back to “square one” in its search for a second-in-command after a plan to partner with EKU was rejected by the state. But while the EDP isn’t paying salary and benefits for a chief operating officer, it’s instead putting those funds toward other things.

The EDP had hoped to get a “two-for-one” by partnering with EKU on a proposal for the state economic development cabinet’s KY Innovation project. EKU’s proposal would have setup Boyle County as an “entrepreneurial hub” for a 27-county region and provided the EDP with two full-time staff members.

But EKU’s proposal was rejected by the state, EDP President and CEO Jody Lassiter said Wednesday.

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“Now we’re back to square one relative to my desire of moving forward with what was funded for the (COO) position,” Lassiter said.

But as the EDP begins a new candidate search, the money budgeted for the position isn’t being spent. EDP Treasurer Alan Turbyfill said every two months without a COO represents between $10,000 and $12,000.

The EDP board voted Wednesday to use the unspent COO money from August, September, October and November to cover two other things:

• $10,000 will be donated to the capital campaign for Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s advanced manufacturing center, which will double the college’s output of graduates with in-demand industry degrees when completed; and

• $8,000 will be used to cover annual accounting costs for the EDP’s auxiliary partners — the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Heart of Danville, Main Street Perryville and the Chamber of Commerce.

Representatives for the Heart of Danville pushed for the accounting costs to be covered earlier in Wednesday’s meeting, arguing the EDP surprised them after their budget was set by requiring them to pay for their own accounting services.

When the EDP reorganized last year, one change was that the EDP decided it would no longer pay all of the costs for an accounting firm that handles accounting for the EDP and its four auxiliary partners. But that change apparently wasn’t communicated to the auxiliary partners, EDP Chair Ben Nelson explained.

Logan Germann, chair of the Heart’s board, said the auxiliary partners were told during the reorganization that “first, no harm would be done.”

“When you talk about there would be no adverse impact, you’re talking about my credibility,” Nelson said, taking responsibility for telling the partners the reorganization would not create problems for them.

But following the reorganization, not only did the EDP decide to bill each auxiliary partner $2,000 for accounting services, the City of Danville also decided to give the Heart “a significant haircut” in terms of funding, Nelson said.

Instead of receiving $110,000 as it has in past years, the Heart is only receiving $72,500 from Danville — a reduction of $37,500.

Turbyfill said the EDP’s finance committee determined it could cover the accounting costs this year out of the unspent COO funds and made a motion to do so for all four auxiliary partners. The motion passed unanimously.

The motion to give $10,000 to the BCTC project also passed unanimously. EDP officials have high hopes for the advanced manufacturing center and Nelson has previously touted it as the single most important thing the community can accomplish for workforce development.

BCTC Director Erin Tipton said with the new $10,000, BCTC has now raised $710,000 of the $1 million it needs in order to take advantage of a $2.7 million grant it was awarded from the state in February 2017.

The 16,000-square-foot advanced manufacturing center would effectively double the college’s capacity for graduating students in the fields of advanced manufacturing technology, electrical technology and industrial maintenance technology — areas expected to be in high demand from area manufacturers in coming years.

“The longer it takes us to raise the remaining $300,000, the longer it will take for that to be a reality in our community,” Tipton said in September.

Nelson said Wednesday the EDP’s $10,000 contribution is a “symbolic” move to show how important the project is to all of the EDP’s partners. He encouraged all the partner agencies to also look in their budgets for room to donate to the project.

“I think if this community doesn’t make this happen, shame on us,” Nelson said. “… I wish we could do more, Dr. Tipton.”