Bruce Wilcox addressed the Paducah Board of Commissioners for the first time since starting his role in September as Greater Paducah Economic Development’s President/CEO. Wilcox says he has spent his first six weeks as GPED president engaged with the community. He has attended or participated in more than 50 meetings, conference calls, conferences, and site visits.
Wilcox also summarized a conference he attended that was organized by the Kentucky Institute for Economic Development. At that conference, Wilcox talked to representatives from numerous cities and learned that Paducah has a variety of assets and we are utilizing a variety of economic development tools. In other words, we are doing a lot to promote economic development which was encouraging for him to hear as he made comparisons.
Wilcox also learned some interesting statistics including that 60 to 80 percent of economic growth comes from the expansion of existing businesses. Wilcox says, “It’s important for us to have a business and retention strategy.” He also heard statistics about the decline of large-scale projects. A large-scale project has either a $1 million minimum capital investment, generates at least 50 jobs, or requires at least 20,000 square feet of space. In 2000, the number of large-scale projects that communities were trying to attract was approximately 12,500. That number dropped to 6500 in 2005 and to 4900 in 2018. Wilcox says, “Big scale opportunities are hard to find.”
Therefore, Wilcox is focusing on activities that drive long-term economic growth including reaching out to local utility providers. Wilcox says, “All of our efforts are to eliminate barriers to growth.” Wilcox added that GPED is working on 11 prospective projects with four of those projects added in the past six weeks.
Wilcox most recently provided leadership as the President and Director of Petter Holdings and has served as Chair of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce.
To increase awareness and further the public engagement regarding the proposed City Block Project, Principal Planner Katie Axt provided an overview of the project and answered several of the community’s frequently asked questions. For concept drawings showing the proposed project and a list of the frequently asked questions and answers, visit http://www.paducahky.gov/downtown-redevelopment.
In April 2019, the City entered into a 12-month preliminary development agreement with Louisville-based Weyland Ventures Development to undertake planning, design, and development for a 3-acre mixed use development on the existing municipal parking lot in downtown bounded by Second Street, Broadway, North Water Street, and Jefferson Street. The project, called City Block, would take the block and redevelop it with features that could include a 4-story, 120-room hotel along Jefferson Street between Water and 2nd Street, public parking spaces, open space for public gatherings, and mixed-use buildings along Broadway between Water and 2nd Street. In this agreement, the City is responsible for undertaking due diligence work for the site including environmental review, geotechnical analysis, utility assessment, and a parking assessment.
At this meeting, the Paducah Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance for a budget amendment in the amount of $72,000 for professional geotechnical analysis and environmental review services for City Block. This amendment moves the funding from the Unreserved General Fund Fund Balance into the City Block Project Account. In related action, the Board approved a $72,000 contract with HDR, Inc. for the geotechnical and environmental services.
The Paducah Board of Commissioners introduced an ordinance to approve an Interlocal Cooperative Agreement in the amount of $13,335 with the McCracken County Property Valuation Administration (PVA). These funds will assist the PVA in hiring additional staff to complete assessment inspections of both commercial and residential properties within the Paducah city limits. The PVA has set a goal of completing county-wide inspections within four years as required by statute.
The Paducah Board of Commissioners approved a municipal order accepting the Recreation Trails Program Grant funded through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in the amount of $100,000. The funds will help construct the Bob Leeper Bridge over Perkins Creek just northwest of the Stuart Nelson ball fields. This pedestrian bridge will tie the City of Paducah Greenway Trail to the McCracken County Trail System. This bridge would be approximately 110 feet long and 10 feet wide and would follow an abandoned rail bed of the Chicago, St. Louis, and New Orleans Railroad Company.
The total project cost is estimated to be $250,000 which will be funded by the Recreation Trails Grant, $80,000 from the City, $30,000 from the County, $30,000 from Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership, $5000 from Veolia North America, and $5000 from Geosyntec Consultants.
At the previous meeting of the Paducah Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Gerald Watkins and Commissioner Richard Abraham mentioned their concerns about allowing dogs at crowded community events such as Barbecue on the River. The discussion continued at this meeting with a reiteration of the concern for the public’s safety at large festivals, especially those that provide food. The Board discussed various topics including restricting dogs from all festivals or from festivals of a minimum size and enforcement challenges. The Board would like more information to be gathered regarding how other cities address the topic of dogs at community events.