EDDYVILLE — Digital technology has transformed the world in recent years, bringing people closer quickly, even halfway around the globe. In many ways the internet and similar factors have made the world more easily accessible. Nevertheless, geography and population continue to factor into the degree to which a region — especially a rural region — shares in that connection. Addressing those needs was the topic Amanda Davenport brought in her report last week to the Lyon County Fiscal Court.
The mission of the Lake Barkley Partnership is to invest resources in ways to create a strong, resilient and diverse economic region in Lyon, Caldwell, Crittenden and Livingston counties. Headquartered in Marion in the Crittenden County Economic Development Center, the organization also maintains office space in Lyon and Caldwell counties’ courthouses.
Davenport, the partnership’s executive director since 2018, has managed and coordinated economic development there. Her education and experience are centered in rural economic development, county government and small business management. A Murray State graduate, she holds a master of business administration degree from Texas Woman’s University. She’s a certified coordinator through the professional association known as Business Retention and Expansion International. Davenport is on the Board of Directors for the Kentucky Association of Economic Development and is pursuing her economic development certification through the International Economic Development Council.
“Rural broadband has been a major issue in our four-county region we cover,” she told the Herald Ledger, after speaking at the fiscal court’s December meeting. “Even before the pandemic, internet service has been a major issue for everybody — for the schools, homes, businesses, residents and attracting new residents.”
The very nature of obtaining quality, widely available internet service was the essence of her report.
“We started this internet feasibility study and received funding for it through a cooperative network,” she explained. “That network includes some of the fiscal courts, industrial development authorities, county extension agencies that have some agriculture development funds, and the state agricultural development fund in the Governor’s Office of Agriculture Policy.”
Altogether, those entities contributed about $24,000 for a study to assess which internet providers are available in the area, types of services they provide, and what the Federal Communications Commission broadband maps say is available here. Those maps determine how federal funding is allocated for internet service development projects.
“Basically, the FCC maps are important because any entity that provides internet service must provide the FCC with maps of the service provided to that area,” Davenport said. “All of those are self-reported, without FCC verification. So, in some areas, the providers claim better service than they actually offer. A map says what should be there, as far as the FCC has been told.”
That, in turn, dictates how federal dollars are spent to develop internet connection in specific areas. Multiple federal agencies use those maps to direct funding to install, develop or deploy high-speed, rural internet all across the country.
“One of the points in the feasibility study compares what the maps actually say, so we can dispute what’s actually happening there,” she noted.
The study also includes every known fiber line in the region and internet service speeds in various areas. Having those speed tests helps dispute the claims of the map. For example, if a company claims to offer 25 megabytes and all that actually is available is five megabytes, determined through conducting a number of speed tests, then, those figures don’t match. Essentially, the tests either verify or dispute what the companies say.
When a clear and accurate assessment emerges, progress begins.
“The big question is, ‘How much would it cost?’ ” Davenport explained. “Next is how to attract a provider to fit that piece of the puzzle. Internet need is one thing, but if there isn’t financial modeling to show the project is feasible with a good, strong payback period within a reasonable amount of time, it’s hard to make the case.”
The feasibility study included a cost analysis and payback period with accurate assumptions. “We now have financial modeling to help us understand this project,” she said.
Factors include the number of people getting service, installation costs, and fiber vs. wireless modes of providing service.
“When we talk about economic development and business attraction, that’s basically what we’re doing,” Davenport concluded. “The business we are trying to attract is an internet service provider and it will take infrastructure, as with any other business project. The question is, ‘What do we need to do to land this project?’ ”
Murray State University partners with area organizations to present Women in Economic Development Conference Series
Series, established in part by Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business, kicks off Oct 15. with presentation by Regent Virginia Gray
MURRAY, Ky. — The Murray State University Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business, alongside the Lake Barkley Partnership, Greater Paducah Economic Development and Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation, present the inaugural Women in Economic Development Conference Series this October and November.
The virtual series is designed to facilitate networking, professional development and collaboration among women in Kentucky’s economic development world. Each event will connect participants with their peers and provide information about available resources through presentations and group discussions.
Murray State University Regent Virginia Gray will kick off the series Oct. 15 at 9 a.m. Series topics will include working with elected officials to navigate challenging projects, economic development resources, changing trends in the industry and how to prepare for them, different strategies of economic development, resources for economic development and future plans and events for the group.
“This event will draw together women from across the region and the state and in doing so will provide an opportunity to establish contacts and relationships for support and growth,” said Chris Wooldridge, Director of the Murray State Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Development housed in the Bauernfeind College of Business. “We are so very excited to be a partner in supporting economic development in the region and more so in supporting professional women advancing this field.”
"There are so many women in the field of economic development; we just need a space to connect and share our energy and enthusiasm for our profession,” said Lake Barkley Partnership Executive Director Amanda Davenport. “I am very excited for this conference to bring together such a great group of professionals to share our perspectives, ideas and strategies on economic development in our communities.”
A full schedule is below. Each event is free and open to the public; learn more and register today at bit.ly/EconDevSeries.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday that Porter Road Butcher Meat Co. LLC, a meat processor based in Princeton, plans to relocate and expand within Caldwell County with a more than $1.5 million investment expected to create 83 full-time jobs.
“I want to congratulate and thank Porter Road for this commitment to Kentucky and our strong workforce,” Beshear said. “As we look to reestablish and strengthen our economy, existing businesses like Porter Road will play a critical role in our success. I anticipate plenty more to come for the commonwealth in the months and years ahead.”
Facing heightened demand, Porter Road is expected to relocate to two buildings encompassing 35,000 s.f. of space on Masonic Drive in Princeton to increase capacity. The move would be a substantial increase from its current 7,000-s.f. facility. The project would provide Porter Road with a larger cutting room and expanded packaging and shipping capabilities. The company plans to complete the move to the new location by the end of 2020.
The 83 projected jobs would include various wage levels and primarily consist of production staff, such as butchers and packaging and shipping positions. An increase in administrative and management, as well as maintenance roles is also expected. Currently, Porter Road employs 31 people in Caldwell County.
“Our business is built on strong relationships with our partners, customers and community,” said Chris Carter, co-founder of Porter Road. “It was relationships that brought us to Princeton six years ago, and relationships that have encouraged us to deepen our roots and expand. We count ourselves fortunate to be working with a proactive team of economic developers including Princeton’s elected officials and the Lake Barkley Partnership to meet our needs during this exciting time of growth. We are excited to bring more jobs to the community and continue the success of Porter Road and Princeton for years to come.”
Carter and James Peisker founded Porter Road in 2010. Having previously worked together as chefs, the pair opened a butcher shop in East Nashville, Tenn., to provide high-quality, locally sourced meat. In 2014, Porter Road Butcher Meat Co. was established as the company expanded to include the Princeton processing facility. The company went online in 2017, serving customers nationwide with all products processed and shipped from the Princeton facility.
Porter Road’s expansion contributes to Kentucky’s already strong food and beverage industry, as the state is home to more than 350 food and beverage facilities, which employ over 52,000 people.
Sen. Robby Mills, of Henderson, said the project comes at the perfect time for a rebounding economy.
“I am pleased that Porter Road Butcher Meat Co. will be expanding here in Caldwell County,” Mills said. “During these unprecedented times, when Kentucky businesses are struggling and unemployment is at record levels, our state craves good news like this. Jobs in the cutting room are more than doubling with this investment. That will go a long way in helping our economy rebound. I am also excited for an increased distribution of Kentucky Proud meat products. I thank Porter Road for its investment and trust in Kentucky and Caldwell County.”
Rep. Lynn Bechler, of Marion, said he was glad to see Porter Road continue its growing partnership with the community.
“I am excited to hear of the expansion of Porter Road Butcher Meat Co.,” Bechler said. “This company has been an amazing community partner and I know that will continue with this investment. In these trying times, the creation of new jobs and economic opportunity is welcome news for those suffering from the recent shutdowns. I am confident that this expansion will help revitalize our local economy.”
Princeton Mayor Dakota Young said Porter Road has been a great company to work with in the years since locating in the area.
“James and Chris and the rest of the crew at Porter Road have been incredible to work with. Their passion for our community is palpable,” Young said. “They have a broad and dynamic vision for the future of their company, and thankfully, Princeton figures prominently in those plans. This project will bring a significant number of good, well-paying job opportunities to our citizens, and demonstrates the resiliency and attractiveness of our local economy and Princeton’s small but important role in the resurgence of our regional, state and national economy from the depths of the COVID-19 crisis.”
Caldwell County Judge-Executive Larry Curling noted the job creation associated with the expansion will greatly benefit the local workforce.
“I Want to thank Porter Road for being a part of this county and putting their trust in this community,” Curling said. “Their partnership with Caldwell County is much appreciated and we look forward to a long alliance with this up and coming company. New jobs are the driving force behind economic growth. These new employment opportunities will lead to a healthier community.”
Amanda Davenport, executive director of the Lake Barkley Partnership, said the expansion signals continued growth for the region.
“I am very excited to announce the expansion of one of our local industry partners, Porter Road,” Davenport said. “This expansion will aid in Lake Barkley Partnership’s overall mission of bringing strong, resilient industry to the Lake Barkley Region. Development of local companies like Porter Road will continue to establish our region as a leader in agriculture and food production. We are proud to work with and support Porter Road as they grow and continue their commitment to our community and local prosperity.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) on Thursday preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $750,000 in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $1.51 million and annual targets of:
In addition, Porter Road can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives.
For more information on Porter Road Butcher Meat Co., visit www.PorterRoad.com.
A detailed community profile for Caldwell County can be viewed here.
FROM WATERWAYS JOURNAL WEEKLY: JANUARY 17, 2020
By Shelley Byrne
With two new grants and the development of a master plan underway, the port of Eddyville (Ky.) is continuing to grow.
The port, created on the Cumberland River impoundment of Lake Barkley in the late 1970s, got a boost about five years ago with land purchases and contract renegotiations that resulted in adding three new tenants, said Jamie Wynn, port director of the Eddyville Riverport & Industrial Development Authority.
The authority now owns roughly 250 acres at the riverport with another 120 acres at a nearby industrial park. Paducah Barge LLC has its drydock at the port. Other new tenants are Hu-B’s Offshore Marine Sales & Service and the Kentucky Fish Center, which receives and completes initial processing of Asian carp from commercial anglers.
“We’re uniquely positioned,” said Glen Kinder, treasurer of the authority’s board of directors, pointing out the nearby convergence of major north-south and east-west interstates I-69 and I-24 as well as the Cumberland River connection to Nashville, Tenn., one of the fastest growing cities in the Southeast. As the port is the only riverport in Kentucky on a lake, it also enjoys stable water levels, fluctuating by only about 5 feet depending on the season, he said.
A sport utility vehicle passes by on the Eddyville Riverport’s main access road. A nearly $50,000 grant will allow the road to be realigned to reduce traffic congestion. It will include removing the fence at left as well as the concrete pad remaining from a conveyor belt project as well as widening, leveling and resurfacing the road. Last spring, the port received a $107,250 Delta Regional Authority grant for a new conveyor to unload fertilizer, which created a need for widening an access road and removing a concrete pad left behind when tenant Agri-Chem LLC replaced its conveyor belt system. Recently, the riverport was awarded a $49,780 grant from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Riverport Improvement Program to improve traffic flow. A bid package on the road construction has been let, with bid openings expected later this month, Wynn said. The project will include removing a fence to allow widening and leveling the road and resurfacing it with blacktop.
“It opens up our access road to all the traffic past Agri-Chem,” Wynn said, noting that the project will decrease traffic congestion and improve safety.
A separate, $10,000 grant from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will allow the addition of overhead doors to one of the port’s grain pits, adding protection in adverse weather conditions.
Master PlanOne of the port’s biggest new undertakings is development of a master plan to determine future land use.
“It’s not just about what we want to do but also our partners and what they might like to do in the future,” Kinder said, adding, “We’re open to ideas and innovation, and we want to partner and grow the industries that can benefit in the area.”
It is important to think not just from the perspective of Eddyville or Lyon County but about the future of the region as a whole, he said.
The master plan’s development is part of a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wynn and Kinder said their goal is to have the plan completed by the end of the year.
Eddyville, Kentucky. (07/29/2019) – The Lake Barkley Partnership is excited to announce Resonate Foods in Lyon County, plans to expand their current facility with a $2.7 million-dollar investment. Resonate Foods is a craft hemp grower and producer in Lyon County producing artesian hemp for food and pharmaceutical grade products. The expansion will add 16 new jobs to the facility along with six greenhouses, industrial dryers and dehumidifiers. The expansion will also include a state-of-the-art processing lab to process the hemp into oil. At full capacity, the facility can process 1,000 pounds of hemp daily.
Resonate Foods along with Agri-Chem, Broadbent Hams, Gavilon Grain, Newsom’s Hams, P & H Farms, and the UK Research and Education Center are part of a thriving industrial agriculture industry in the Lake Barkley Region. The Partnership is excited to continue the development of our agriculture sector and looks to continually be a leader in both agriculture production and research in Western Kentucky.
Matthew Wilse, president and found of Resonate Foods stated, “Resonate is honored and proud to be part of the honest and hardworking hemp economy in West Kentucky. As a craft hemp company, we create differentiated artisanal hemp products founded on quality, consistency and dependability. We are happy and thankful to be home here in Lyon County, and look forward to continuing to invest in the local community and expand our network of trusted suppliers and customers here and in the region.”
Judge Executive Wade White said, “we are thankful Resonate Foods chose Lyon County and look forward to their continued growth and success” in regards to the expansion.
Amanda Davenport, Executive Director for the Lake Barkley Partnership said, “We are very excited for the expansion of Resonate Foods. This expansion is indicative of our strong agriculture and manufacturing industries in the Lake Barkley Region. We are thrilled with the growth Resonate Foods has experienced and look forward to see the innovation that comes from the expansion of this processing facility.”
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved tax incentives up to $375,000 for this project. Resonate Foods is also eligible for programs through the Kentucky Skills Network.
For more information on Resonate Foods, visit www.ResonateFoods.com
For more information on the Lake Barkley Partnership, visit www.ThinkRural.com
To see comments from state officials for this expansion, see https://kentucky.gov/Pages/Activity-stream.aspx?n=KentuckyGovernor&prId=999