Industrial Foundation hopes to help with ‘desperate need’ for transitional housing

Published 7:17 pm Friday, May 3, 2019


Guest columnist

The Boyle County Industrial Foundation (BCIF), founded in 1961, is a non-profit partner in the Danville Boyle County Economic Development Partnership (EDP) with the following missions:

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• BCIF manages and improves existing real estate assets for sale or lease for industrial and/or commercial development.

• BCIF monitors, assesses and responds to opportunities for acquisition of additional land and/or buildings to maintain a competitive stock of real estate assets for industrial and/or commercial prospects.

Our current Board members, all serving as unpaid volunteers from our community, represent a wide array of impressive backgrounds including banking, finance, education, health care, marketing, utilities, local industry/management, human resources and more. Our current Board of Directors members are: John Albright (chair), Bob Rowland, Alan Turbyfill (treasurer), Erin Tipton, Walter Goggin (vice chair), Carl Metz, John Roush, Joey Harris, Jennifer Gilbert Newby, Cindy Ellsworth (secretary), Jerry Carter and Andrew Frauenhoffer.

The Boyle County Industrial Foundation has provided profitable and productive locations for diverse industries that have generated thousands of jobs for Boyle County and the region, and millions of dollars in capital investments. This has been accomplished without any local or tax dollar funding, and BCIF remains a nonprofit organization with no paid shareholders.

I was honored to be asked to serve on their Board of Directors in 2016 after my career in business development and marketing with Atmos Energy. I had been on the other side of the equation for many years, part of a team making sure we got the necessary data back to the foundation on utility costs, availability, timelines, etc. I was always impressed with the foundation’s reputation, professionalism and leadership.

However, no one back in 1961 could have ever predicted the personal tragedies and economic blow our region would suffer due to the onset of substance abuse today. Incarceration and high rates of recidivism were not on anyone’s radar 58 years ago, as well as the strain on our government finances it has created. Today, workforce development efforts have been negatively impacted by felony criminal records and failure to pass a drug screen.

Our jail is often overcrowded with an ever-ballooning inmate population. How can the Boyle County Industrial Foundation offer help? Perhaps part of the answer is the Lawson Property/Lynnwood Farm at 3288 Lebanon Road.

In 2014, the Boyle County Industrial Foundation purchased 10 acres and a house adjacent to the Industrial Park for future plant expansions, etc. Bob Lawson, a well-known local builder, had his custom-built personal house there and the property also showcased a 1941 red caboose.

The caboose has since been donated to the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp, which hopes to make this historic piece an important part of their museum located in Ravenna. However, the house still stands and long-term, the property will be used as an addition to the industrial park to provide more jobs for our community. In the meantime, it can play an important role.

There is a desperate need for transitional housing in Boyle County to assist former inmates who have served their time and been released, but need assistance getting back on their feet. Barry Harmon and Brian Wofford (then jailer and deputy jailer) met me on-site early in 2018 and we shared in the vision of what this property could offer. Brian was later elected Jailer and we stayed persistent in our mission to find the right person/agency that could assist in turning this vision into a reality, with the end goal of helping our county on so many levels.

For an area that prides itself on being “Historically Bold,” we need to step up to the plate.

Lots of due diligence has been done, including a productive, well-attended  Q&A meeting held earlier in April with neighboring residents, Seeing Hearts/Andrew Wilkinson, public officials and other interested parties. We are thankful for the support and guidance of many, particularly the Board of Directors of the Boyle County Industrial Foundation for their leadership and their vote to lease this property, no-charge, to Seeing Hearts Ministry/Andrew Wilkinson, pending P&Z Board of Adjustment approvals. I remain optimistic that with full community support, 3288 Lebanon Road will once again be a home all can take pride in.

Cindy Brenner Ellsworth is the secretary for the Boyle County Industrial Foundation.