• 32°

EDP leaders: Positive year ahead for Boyle County’s workforce

Jody Lassiter says the time is finally here — newly arrived industrial business Adkev will begin production soon. The company began renovations of the old Caterpillar factory in March 2018.

“They’ll be ramping up in January or February, and have already been in the process of hiring,” said Lassiter, president and CEO of the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership.

The plastic injection molding company is expected to invest $15.7 million in the Danville plant. “They’ve got to be in production by the first quarter,” Lassiter said, adding that Adkev “will start with 75 jobs.”

Lassiter said he’s not sure about the specific timeline, but construction is beginning on the advanced manufacturing center at Bluegrass Community and Technical College. When completed, the center would double the college’s capacity for students in several high-demand industry degree programs.

                                  Lassiter

Lassiter said BCTC’s capital campaign is $200,000 away from the $1 million required in local matching funds in order to access more than $2.7 million in grant funding the school was awarded in 2017.  

“It will give us an ongoing resource of individuals who are ready for the workforce,” Lassiter said. “Right now, the BCTC campus is bursting at the seams … I definitely hope we are able to complete the fundraising component.”

He said there have been several major contributors, including the Boyle County Industrial Society, Danville and the Boyle County Fiscal Court. The EDP has also contributed.

Part of Lassiter’s job is to stay well informed on “what’s happening not just locally, but globally and foreign, as well.” Based on his research, Lassiter said he thinks “we’re witnessing a stock market correction and the impacts of tariffs, with Europe, Canada, Mexico … as well as tariffs with Asia and particularly China.”

“We’ll see how the USMCA turns out,” he said, referring to the new trade deal President Donald Trump came up with to replace NAFTA.

“Generally, it takes longer to reach our market when there’s a downturn. For the last recession, the downturn didn’t arrive in Boyle until 2010-11, so it will take time,” Lassiter said. “But we’re looking to see what the initial wave will be and prepare.”

Lassiter will spend his 2019 studying the markets and traveling to court potential industries and companies. And “we’re going to be taking that next step of implementing the EDP plan. This is exciting because we’re getting beyond the initial steps to the red meat of the recommendations, as our committees have been working hard.”

Those committees are something Ben Nelson, EDP chair, is grateful for.

“I look forward to seeing the partners’ board and its five working committees, made up of over 40 civic volunteers and (EDP) staff, continue to implement and gain traction on our shared strategic plan,” Nelson said.

He said he’s also grateful for the formation of the Early Childhood Alliance, under the leadership of of Dr. Patten Mahler, Tom Poland and Amy Longwill. “I look forward to that group providing our community a fact-based understanding of the needs of our community’s children, caregivers; and foster collaboration in 2019, to improve on meeting these needs.”

Nelson said there are currently 76 active projects out of 120 total for 2018 in “our community’s prospect pipeline, and I look forward to seeing our community benefit from focused business recruitment and expansion.”

                                    Nelson

Nelson also looks forward to BCTC’s advanced manufacturing center. He credits the school’s vision and efforts to raise the necessary funds for the matching grant. “I look forward to the anticipated ground-breaking as our community supports this critical workforce development need. And I’d like to point out — BCTC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technician Program (AMT) is a two-year associate degree that combines cutting-edge curriculum, often with paid working experience along with learning highly sought-after business principles and best practices of world-class manufacturers.”

Also on his list to be “thankful for,” Nelson listed the work of Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy for developing strategies and resources for dealing with addiction; and the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s “award-winning tourism efforts.”

Nelson said in 2019, he hopes “all of us go downtown more often and support our Main Street programs through memberships, donations and advocating for them to be elected officials,” demonstrating a commitment to downtown “not as an afterthought, but as a key component for economic development.”

He said nationwide, for every dollar a participating community spends to support the operation of its Main Street program, there’s a $26.43 reinvestment return.

Nelson is grateful for “all the small and large businesses in our community who go often unappreciated for all they do daily to provide jobs, enhance our community’s quality of life, and support economic development through donations and volunteer support.”