Tribune-Courier General Manager
Those in the business of economic development know the meaning of competition.
Josh Tubbs, Marshall County’s director of economic and community development, is no exception.
Tubbs says while he receives regular inquiries from people interested in finding a location to start or move a business, those phone calls are just the start of a long and arduous process.
“Sometimes it takes years to realize success from the efforts you put out there today,” said Tubbs. “We are competing on a global level many times and people are all looking for something different.”
Marshall County Judge Executive Mike Miller echoed Tubbs’ comments saying, “You plant seeds, make contacts, meet with people and hope something pans out,” he said.
Tubbs said over the past three years he’s shown the former Fleetwood plant to at least 20 or 25 potential tenants. He said some were speculators, some industrial, some looking for warehouse space and still others were unidentified to him.
Tubbs is prevented from showing prospects the inside of the building located on US 641 because the county doesn’t yet own it. It’s been tied up in litigation since the closing of the plant in 2008.
“That is a great hindrance to us. We need to get our hands on that building so that we can show people the inside. We’ve had people wanting to see it and our hands are tied,” said Miller.
Miller pointed to the success of Murray recently in attracting a tenant for the vacant Webasto plant just off US 641 in Calloway County. “They had the building setting empty and it fit their needs,” he said.
Webasto closed its doors in Murray in 2008 and just last year German automotive supplier iwis announced it would move its manufacturing facility into the space.
On the heels of that announcement another German automotive supplier also chose Murray for its manufacturing facility. Kemmerich announced in November it would build a plant in Murray. In all nearly 200 jobs are being created.
“I’m proud for Murray,” said Miller. “There are Marshall Countians who will benefit from some of those jobs. Whenever we have success in a Jackson Purchase county it’s good for all of us.”
Just last week McCracken County landed nearly 200 jobs with Canadian based Macco Oraniques announcing it would inhabit a spec building owned by the Paducah Economic Development Council and a Michigan-based company that will take over the old Tyler Mountain plant.
An economic development success story still awaiting a happy ending in Benton is the opening of Purchase Youth Village, a juvenile psychiatric residential treatment facility in the old Marshall County Hospital. The state granted a certificate of need for a 24 bed facility to be opened by an Elizabethtown physician group in 2011. That project is currently stalled by a dispute between the physicians who obtained the certificate of need.
Miller remains hopeful the project will come to fruition before the time limit on the certificate of need runs out. He’s been in contact with Governor Steve Breshear’s office to get clarification on when that is and has met with one of the doctors involved in the project.
“We would very much like to see that become operational here,” said Miller. “The building is just sitting there and is perfect for what they are doing. We don’t want to see those beds moved to another county (through the certificate of need process).”
Tubbs will be traveling to a trade show in April to tout the advantages of Marshall County. He hopes to make contacts with business and industry with a synergy compatible to what Marshall County has to offer.
“We have the things in place companies are looking for,” said Tubbs. “Companies want to know what you can do for them. We offer the transportation, real estate, a strong workforce and availability and reliability of electricity. You just have to find the right people.”