Thursday, September 21, 2006

Rebounding Rurally

Fulton County, KY (population 7,217) lost a number of sewing operations in the past ten years. I was there to talk at their first industry appreciation dinner. They had held an industry fair earlier in the day, mainly for their two high schools in the county.

Penny Morgan, head of ED for the county, gave me a tour showing both the older, closed plants and the new ones that she has recruited into the community. “We have a new 55 million gallon ethanol plant that will have 52 employees. They are making a $95 million investment, have bought our spec building and have plans to bring in a couple of other companies to process some of their by-products.”

She also showed me the site for a new $2 million, 35 employee Jameson Bourbon Distributors processing plant and tourism center and a Burke-Parsons-Bowlby $15 million wood treating plant for railroad ties which will employ 52.

One of the companies at the industry fair, Dana Corporation had been looking for a company to do some of their aluminum dye casting. Another company there, Bermaq, a local 17 employee firm specializes in dye casting. They hadn’t connected until then. Sometimes the best things are in your own back yard.

Fulton County is making the difficult, but necessary transition from labor intensive assembly operations into more high tech, capital intensive ones. It is a track that many other areas are going through.

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