‘No red flags’ on Boyle’s newest economic development report

Published 11:31 am Friday, October 18, 2019

Boyle County has seen 15 announcements of new or expanding businesses through the first nine months of 2019, which is five more than there were during the same time period last year.

That’s according to the newest “project funnel” report released by the Economic Development Partnership this week. The report attempts to show all business projects the EDP is currently involved in.

Through the first three quarters of 2019, there have been “no red flags” as far as reasons that any project was lost or chose a different location, said Jody Lassiter, president of the EDP.

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“To date, we have 57 commercial projects, 28 industrial (in 2019),” Lassiter said. “That has generally been the breakdown over the course of my 12 years here.”

Lassiter said 65 of the 2019 projects are potential new business and 17 are potential expansions of existing businesses.

“The expansion projects, particularly for our industrial projects — not only to secure those but to make sure they occur — probably take as much time as all the new projects,” he said. “If there is any (thought) that expansions happen spontaneously and organically without any assistance by the EDP, I’d like to have a lengthy discussion with you about all of the industrial expansion projects currently ongoing, because of the hand-holding and incentive negotiation and other property-related issues that we’re directly involved in … that we are directly involved in right now.”


‘As competitive as Vietnam’

Lassiter said while expansions are thought of differently by the public, they’re often treated essentially like new business openings by the businesses doing the expansions. That’s because the businesses often have multiple locations they could choose to expand at, so Danville locations are actually competing against their sister locations in other states or countries to land expansions.

Lassiter said for example, Denyo’s Danville facility, which has expanded recently, has to compete against another Denyo facility in Vietnam.

“We’ve got to justify investment in Danville vs. the incredibly low cost of doing business in Vietnam,” Lassiter said. “They’ve just got engineers that will show up and work for entry-level wages.”

Joey Harris with Denyo confirmed Lassiter’s point. He said the Vietnam facility can hire cheap, educated labor “right out of college.”

“We’ve got to position Danville to be as competitive as Vietnam,” Lassiter said. “Vietnam is the hot property globally right now … they are extremely competitive against Japan and China and India.”


Boyle outperforming neighbors

Despite the competitive market for economic development, Lassiter said he thinks state data shows Boyle County is outperforming all other counties in the region.

The state Cabinet for Economic Development counted 115 qualified project announcements from January through August of this year, according to a CED report shared by Lassiter. Three of those announcements came in Boyle County:

  • International Farmaceutical Extracts, which plans to invest about $6 million and create 34 jobs;
  • an expansion at Hobart, which involved an investment of about $123,000 and has created 16 jobs; and
  • an expansion at Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems that involved an investment of almost $7.9 million and created 45 jobs.

Lassiter noted a second, larger expansion announcement from Meggitt, which is expected to require $82.68 million and create 83 jobs, has not yet been counted in the CED report.

Lassiter said Boyle County has one of Kentucky’s 16 new industrial business announcements in 2019; and two of the state’s 64 expanding industrial business announcements. The counties surrounding Boyle have no new industrial business announcements listed on the report. Lincoln County has one industrial expansion listed — a $1 million investment at DecoArt in Stanford that isn’t expected to create any new jobs.

“I continue to hear that adjacent counties have received new projects. There have been no new projects in adjacent counties,” Lassiter said. “There have been expansions …”

The CED report also lists new and expanding “service and technology firms.” There have been six announcements of new businesses and 29 announcements of expanding businesses in that category, none of which were in Boyle County.

Casey County has one of the 29 expansions — a $1.82 million project from Goose Creek Inc. in Liberty that’s expected to create 60 jobs.


Funnel report breakdown

Of the 15 project announcements in the funnel report, seven are completed and eight are still in process.

The seven completed projects are:

  • NuBreed Academy, which opened in Junction City in the spring;
  • Air Hydro Power Inc., which is estimated to have created between one and nine jobs and opened in Danville in September;
  • Kentucky Cheer All Stars, which has a building on Meigs Lane in Junction City;
  • Salted Honey Café, which opened in Perryville on Sept. 26;
  • Meggitt’s previously mentioned 45-job expansion;
  • Hobart’s previously mentioned 16-job expansion; and
  • The Farmhouse Restaurant, which opened in Boyle County in May.

The eight announced projects still in process are:

  • Thomas Travel Inc., which is expected to invest between $100,000 and $500,000 on an “expansion location” in Danville;
  • Captain D’s, which is renovating and expanding the old Starbucks building on the south end of the Danville U.S. 150 Bypass;
  • IJW Whiskey, which is building additional storage for bourbon barrels at its Lebanon Road location;
  • Meggitt’s previously mentioned 83-job expansion;
  • DMK Development Group, which is building an assisted living facility on the bypass near Stuart Powell Ford;
  • Asuka Japanese Steakhouse, which has announced plans to build its first satellite location next to Cattleman’s Steakhouse on the south end of the bypass;
  • International Farmaceutical Extract’s previously mentioned $6 million project; and
  • Bluegrass Sports Center, a new commercial business coming to Danville involving an investment of between $100,000 and $500,000.

Other projects in the “due diligence” phase, which is the step prior to public announcement, include:

  • a bed and breakfast project in Perryville that would require an investment of less than $100,000 and create less than 10 jobs;
  • three different child day care projects that are considering opening in Danville (no investment level or jobs specified publicly); and
  • “Project Koda,” a new commercial business prospect looking to create fewer than 10 jobs in Danville.

Notable projects in the funnel report that have been lost to “attrition” include:

  • “Project Oaks,” a new industrial business prospect that had been considering Danville or Junction City and would have created between 10 and 24 jobs. The report notes, “project inactive.”
  • An industrial prospect that was considering taking advantage of Danville’s federal “opportunity zone” for tax breaks. The project could have created between 25 and 49 jobs. “Prospect selected property in another community after reconsidering Danville OZ location” in August, according to the report.
  • Three additional projects that were interested in Danville’s Opportunity Zone but either stopped contacting the EDP or chose not to pursue the project further.
  • A child day care center project is considered lost because the “cost of retrofitting (the) facility for child day care (was) deemed cost-prohibitive.”
  • American National University, which sold its building to the Danville Board of Education, will not choose a new Danville location; instead, ANU Danville will “consolidate with (the) Lexington campus.”
  • An industrial prospect was interested in Danville for a project that could have cost between $10 million and $25 million and created 25-49 jobs. The report explains: “Project focused on greater Detroit area (MI, IN, OH) due to special workforce with experience in forging, absolute number of available workforce and proximity of competitors in same industry.”
  • “Project Pineapple” was an industrial prospect interested in investing more than $50 million and creating between 50 and 99 jobs in Danville. The report explains: “Prospect pursuing building in another KY community as first choice; Danville building backup option.”