Where t he Rivers Meet Opportunity Waits
K e n t u c k y
Executive Summary Ballard County, in the southwest corner of Kentucky, is an especially attractive location. This finding has been documented by BFPC, LLC, a leading site selection and location strategy consulting firm, working in partnership with Site Location Services, the West Kentucky Workforce Investment Board, and other consultants. The consulting team recently completed an in-depth investigation of the Ballard County economy. One key purpose of the study was to identify industries and business operations that can benefit from the unique business advantages of this part of Kentucky. Reasons for considering Ballard County include the following assets: • Projected costs for staffing, utilities, construction, taxes, and certain other expenses to establish and operate in Ballard County are well below the comparable US national average. • above average availability of personnel. This is due to a well-established industrial base (about 5,000 people currently work in manufacturing in Ballard and nearby counties), local academic and industrial training facilities, the regional population growth rate, and the attractiveness of the community and state as a relocation destination. • excellent transportation. Interstate Highways 24, 55, and 57 and the Julian Carroll Purchase Parkway—a four-lane limited-access highway soon to be designated I-69—pass near Ballard County also, proposed I-66 is planned to be extended through the county. A main line of Canadian National Railway does so as well. Daily non-stop jet flights to and from Chicago are available from Barkley Regional Airport and the Nashville Airport is within about two to three hours’ drive of most of Ballard County. • potential regional customer base. West Kentucky is centrally located to serve markets in both the industrial heartland and the South, the nation’s fastest-growing region. About 60% of the US population and purchasing power is within 600 miles. • preparedness for industrial development. Ballard County has several industrial/technical parks and light industry sites with infrastructure ready for rapid acquisition and use by companies. The Ballard County Economic and Industrial Development Board markets a 72-acre industrial park with a 36,000-square foot speculative building available., as well as, a 42 acre technical park with 4 buildings totaling 86,000 square feet.
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• public services available to industrial plants in Kentucky. The state has many programs to support its businesses in this field. The University of Kentucky, Murray State, and other academic and research institutions are available to provide research, development, consultation, and other assistance to plants in the state. The University of Kentucky’s Office for Commercialization and Economic Development (http://www.econdev.uky.edu/for-business.aspx) has a number of initiatives to attract and nourish new and expanding companies. • an attractive package of industrial development incentives. • a quality of life that supports recruitment, transfer, and maintenance of staff. √ a local cost of living estimated at 10 to 20% below the national average, √ an attractive natural environment adjacent to the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, with many other lakes and outdoor recreational features. √ a pleasant mix of smaller city and rural settings, that allows housing opportunities ranging from interesting small city neighborhoods to farms, while at the same time providing easy access to sophisticated urban services. Ballard County is convenietly located from three major metropolitan areas, with a comfortable two to three hours’ drive from St. Louis, Memphis or Nashville. √ entertainment and culture such as the Murray State University sports teams that compete in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, performing arts, and other attractions. MSU also serves its region by offering a variety of academic and professional programs on a part-time basis for working people. ______________________________________
More data about Ballard County and the region’s advantages for your company are available from:
Ballard Co Economic & Industrial Development Board Terry Simmons, President/CEO 101 Liberty Drive, Suite 4 Kevil, KY 42053 Phone: 270-744-3232 FAX: 270-744-3308 E-mail: [email protected]
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Regional Characteristics Ballard County is a community of about 8,200 residents with an area of 251 square miles, located in the southwestern corner of Kentucky. It lies just west of McCracken County which contains the City of Paducah. The two counties are part of the Paducah Micropolitan Area, whose population is just under 100,000 according to US Census estimates for 2009. The “Micropolitan” designation shows that the region is economically important even though not a metro area. This area lies about 150 miles from St. Louis, Memphis or Nashville, 30 miles from Cape Girardeau, Missouri; and 50 miles from Carbondale, Illinois. There has been a remarkable degree of cooperative economic development across state lines in this area. For example, Ballard County is participating as one of nine local governments in Kentucky and Illinois in development of a megasite in nearby Graves County, Kentucky. Over $12 million of new investment in private non-manufacturing business has taken place in Ballard County since 2007, according to the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet. Ballard County is also a popular location of residences for people working in other nearby parts of Kentucky and Illinois—nearly half of the approximately 4,200 employed persons living in Ballard County commute out of the county to work. Academic institutions near the area include Murray State University (10,000 students), Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau (also 10,000), and Southern Illinois University in Carbondale (over 20,000). West Kentucky Community and Technical College has its main campus in Paducah and operate branches throughout West Kentucky, including a welding lab located located in Ballard County.
“Ballard County is progressive for a community of its size in advancing its economic development and seeking to recruit new investment.”
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Connecting to America’s Heartland by Air, Rail, River & Road Transportation arteries within the region include Interstate Highway 24 and the Julian Carroll Purchase Parkway, soon to be designated I-69 and intended to connect Indianapolis with Memphis. Other Interstate routes in the area include I-55 and I-57. Planning is under way for I-66 to cross Ballard County en route from Missouri to West Virginia. The area is also crossed by a number of major US and state highways, many of which are four-lane. The Mississippi and Ohio Rivers form the northern and western borders of Ballard County and providing the county with access to more than 20 miles of navigable waterway. They are part of over 1,500 miles of commercially navigable bodies of water in and adjacent to Kentucky. I-24 passes west of Paducah and has contributed to extensive expansion of urban development westward in the direction of Ballard County. Other important facilities such as the Barkley Regional Airport and major industries are also in western McCracken County. As a result, the eastern edge of Ballard County has seen significant suburban development recently. Jet service to Chicago is available from United Express via Barkley Regional Airport, and via multiple carriers in Memphis, Nashville, and St. Louis. Barkley Regional Airport also offers general aviation services via MidWest Aviation. A major north-south line of CN Railway passes through Ballard County, providing freight services as well as Amtrak’s “City of New Orleans” train which makes regular station stops in Fulton, Kentucky, and Carbondale, Illinois.
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Current Economic Conditions The Ballard County region has proven itself to have a number of characteristics sought by expanding business and industry. The exhibit on the following page illustrates the breadth of the Ballard County and Paducah Micropolitan Area economy and shows some favorable economic trends. It is based primarily on the US Commerce Department’s County Business Patterns data series as released in July and August, 2010.
Preparing for the Future With award winning schools, diverse cultural opportunities, and forward-thinking leaders, your company will find that Ballard is committed to expanding and diversifying the regional economy, not just for today, but for tomorrow and the next generation.
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Economic Development Trends Given its strategic location at the intersection of the two largest rivers in the US Heartland, Ballard County was a major center for Native American settlement and development. Several mounds and other remnants of their activity remain in the region. Ballard County is in the “newest” part of Kentucky. This area was designated as part of the state when it was admitted to the union in 1792; but did not actually fall under Kentucky legal authority until Isaac Shelby and Andrew Jackson negotiated its purchase from the Chickasaw Nation in 1818. Kentuckians still refer to this part of the state as “the Purchase.” Historically, the region was heavily agricultural, based on its fertile soil and river access to transport products to markets. It remains an important part of the local economy, with over $60 million of crop and livestock production annually. Manufacturing was stimulated by construction of rail lines starting in 1852. By the 1880’s, there were lines from this area to Louisville, Chicago, Memphis, and other cities of the South and Midwest. Even then, Ballard County benefited from being a “sunbelt” location with lower costs and a supportive business climate having easy access to major markets of the Midwest. Today, Ballard County’s largest manufacturing employer is the NewPage Paper Mill in Wickliffe. This plant was part of a complex started here in 1968 by Westvaco (later MeadWestvaco). In 2005, it sold a division including the Wickliffe paper manufacturing capacity to Cerberus Capital Management. It established NewPage, a $3.1 billion company which is now the largest coated paper producer in North America. The Wickliffe facility, primarily a kraft mill and coating operation, manufactures over 300,000 tons of paper per year. Part of the Ballard County complex was retained by Mead Westvaco and produces activated carbon. Ballard County has been particularly progressive for a community of its size in advancing its economic development and seeking to recruit new investment. It has a community-owned industrial park of 72 acres including a new speculative clearspan building of 36,000 square feet with a 24-foot ceiling. The Ballard County Economic and Industrial Development Board also owns the West Kentucky Technology Park in Kevil, which is now largely occupied but has around 10 acres still available. The City of Wickliffe owns a parcel of about 30 acres alongside the CN rail line with potential for both rail and water access. There are also several privately-owned parcels and potential buildings.
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The Importance of the Rivers The Mississippi and Ohio Rivers join here, forming the northern and western borders of Ballard County and providing the county with access to more than 20 miles of navigable waterway. They are part of over 1,500 miles of commercially navigable bodies of water in and adjacent to Kentucky. There is already much river-related business in Ballard County. The NewPage complex noted above has the potential to receive logs and other raw materials by water. James Marine, Inc., runs a shipyard in Wickliffe, one of several facilities it owns in West Kentucky. Economy Boat provides a range of creative services to towing companies including midstream refueling, crew changes, and supply delivery. AC Plus Marine is a ship systems company located in Kevil, a Ballard County community not directly on a river; it has developed a 12-person deep diving vessel for repair and maintenance services a thousand feet below the ocean’s surface. Several river-oriented businesses in West Kentucky have recently expanded, a trend expected to continue. West Kentucky Community and Technical College, alert for new opportunities, is planning to start a degree program in Marine Technology. The rivers also provide Ballard County with some extraordinary assets to support new economic development. Ballard County is about 830 miles upstream on the Mississippi River from New Orleans, via a route that involves no locks and which is generally free from ice and weather hazards. This is one of the closest points to a large expanse of the Midwest and South with such opportunities. The TennesseeTombigbee route is also available to connect Ballard County to the Gulf; it has a dozen locks but has generally not been congested. A major expansion of the Panama Canal will be completed in 2014 which will result in a massive increase in its use by cargo ships that previously called on West Coast ports. The destination for most of their cargoes is the US Midwest and East. As it becomes feasible for maritime ships to go farther in these directions, they certainly will do so—water shipping is the most economical and energy-efficient mode and has the least environmental impact. Problems exist with the current system including congestion and other issues at several West Coast ports and the inefficiencies and costs of transferring cargo to land-based modes. Many freight rail routes are close to capacity and many roads are extremely congested by long-haul trucks.
“Ballard County is about 830 miles upstream from New Orleans, via a route that involves no locks and which is generally free from ice and weather hazards.” 8 l Ballard County
Shipments to the eastern parts of the US may also expand due to shifts in international trade patterns, such as an increase in traffic to and from India.Oceanic ports all along the East and Gulf Coasts are expanding in expectation of big increases in their volume of shipping. These trends show potential for expanding both the scope and volume of barge shipping on the US inland waterways. Rivers have generally been used to transport limited types of cargo, materials that were heavy and/or bulky, whose shipment did not have to be fast, and where some exposure to the elements was not a problem. They will certainly continue to haul commodities of this type: stone, cement, and construction materials, coal and fuels, some ores and metals, agricultural chemicals. However, there is a distinct potential for moving river-transported materials up the value chain. One approach under consideration is Container-on-Barge. In this mode, the shipping containers in which most international merchandise freight is carried are transferred from oceanic ships to special barges and continue their journey via inland waterways. This concept has been successful in other locations such as Europe, and is under serious study for some US inland waterways. Merchandise cargo is much higher value and more remunerative to haul than traditional barge freight. It is possible, although not certain, that the concept will take hold on the Mississippi River. If it does, it could lead to much new transportation services in Ballard County. The concepts discussed here are well into the future. It would require new equipment to handle containers on barges as well as a new operations model involving more timely deliveries. Ballard County does not yet have facilities or property prepared for these types of developments. But serious study and planning are underway. As Ballard County is moving forward with long-range plans to serve river-oriented economic activities, it is working to attract businesses and industries for which there is opportunity in both the near term and the future. This report is part of that effort. The industry selected as the focus of the study—manufacturing materials handling equipment—Is likely to benefit as Ballard County and the surrounding area execute plans for more river-oriented business, and in turn, is likely to support that and other business and industrial development in the region.
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Why Locate in Ballard County? Nearby Market Opportunities. A Ballard County location is within easy driving distance of the four counties of the Paducah Micropolitan Area, which has nearly 100,000 residents, a large manufacturing base, and many prospective business and government clients. Parts of four states are within about an hour’s drive from Ballard County. For distributors seeking to serve a larger market, a Ballard County location puts them near the fastest-growing part of the nation. The region from Texas to the Southeast ranks highest in the US in expansion measured by demographics, economic and industrial development, purchasing power, and other key indicators of market strength. Kentucky and other parts of the South also rank among the highest in the US for growth of purchasing power. The county is also easily accessible to much of the Midwest, which continues as a major market but is a generally more expensive location for most manufacturing activities. About 60% of the nation’s population, employment, and industry are located within a 600-mile driving radius of Ballard County. Numerous logistics models looking at distribution patterns for consumer goods to major US markets except the West Coast show that the points of least mileage and lowest cost are often in Kentucky. Transportation and Supply Assets. Ballard County is well-served for both inbound receiving and outbound shipping of industrial supplies. Interstate Highways 24, 55, and 57 and the Julian Carroll Purchase Parkway—a fourlane limited-access highway soon to be designated I-69—pass nearby. Planning has begun on the proposed I-66 will cross Ballard County. • Rail service to the county is provided by CN, whose main line between the Gulf Coast and Chicago passes through Wickliffe and the southeast part of Ballard County. • Water transportation including Container-on-Barge makes increasing sense for shipments of some types of industrial supplies.
About 60% of the nation’s population, employment, and industry are located within a 600-mile driving radius of Kentucky.
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• Ballard County is within a few minutes drive of Barkley Regional Airport and two to three hours’ drive of three major airports located in Memphis, Nashville and St Louis. Availability of Good People. West Kentucky is better prepared than many other locations to offer well qualified employees to a new or expanding company. Availability of people with industrial work backgrounds, often going back several generations, is a main feature—nearly 5,000 people currently work in 77 manufacturing plants in Ballard, McCracken, and other counties of the micropolitan area, according to the latest US Commerce Department data, so there is much existing specific experience from which companies may draw. West Kentucky Community and Technical College provides training in diverse business and industrial fields, including many specific to distribution.
Preparedness. The county has a range of industrial parks and sites, available buildings, and infrastructure ready for rapid acquisition and use by companies. The Ballard County Economic and Industrial Development Board markets an industrial park with about 72 acres still available and a 36,000-square foot shell building; as well as, a 42 acre technical park with 4 buildings totaling 86,000 square feet. Future Opportunities. The leadership of Ballard County has made economic and industrial development a key focus. The potential for growth is clearly here, and the new and expanding activities are likely to need industrial supplies. Favorable Economics. An industrial supplies distributor in Ballard County can possibly save over 24% relative to the US average for the industry. In the particular model, this savings amounts to well over a million dollars every year. This asset is so important and compelling that it deserves more detail, which is provided in the following chapter.
Demographics within 600 Miles of Ballard County US Population = 60% personal income = 55% Retail sales = 39% Manufacturing Employment = 52%
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Ballard County Economic & Industrial Development Board Terry Simmons, President/CEO 101 Liberty Drive, Suite 4 Kevil, KY 42053 Phone: 270-744-3232 FAX: 270-744-3308 E-mail: [email protected]