Corbin’s Director of Economic Development, Bruce Carpenter, said his program has been awarded over $5 million in grant funds to help create jobs locally, and touted the repeated construction of large speculative buildings as key to the effort during a recent speech to the Corbin Rotary Club.
Carpenter spoke to the Rotarians at their regular weekly meeting last Thursday at David’s Steakhouse in Corbin.
In addition to his role as Economic Development Director, Carpenter also serves as Executive Director of the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
He announced to the group that work is under way on construction of a fourth spec building in the Southeast Kentucky Regional Business Park, located off the Corbin Bypass. The first three constructed by the park’s authority board all already occupied by Pepsi Cola/Break Time Vending; Japanese metal coating company KOWA; and France-basked Smart Wood, which produces Beech wood ice cream sticks, popsicle sticks and drink stirrers.
“Having a spec building program is the number one priority for any economic development program,” Carpenter said. “That gives you about a nine-months jump when a company decides to locate in your community. They are able to go ahead to start building it out.”
Currently, Carpenter said Smart Wood is leasing the building they are operating in, and will buy it outright December of 2019. When that transaction is complete, the priority will then switch to hopefully building a large “certified pad ready” site, the next best thing to a full spec building.
With the 66th Annual NIBROC Festival beginning this week, Carpenter talked about his role in planning the event. He’s been involved — as a volunteer and, later, primary organizer — for 36 years.
“It may come as a surprise to some folks … I think a lot of people believe I do NIBROC 365 days out of the year,” he said. “The real job I have is recruiting industry and business, and working with our counties to try to create jobs for our community.”
He said NIBROC helps fund the local economic development effort, which received $50,000 from the city of Corbin a decade ago, but was reduced to just $25,000. That amount has crept back up — $31,000 last fiscal year and $41,000 for the current fiscal year. He pointed to other communities, like London, that give much more to their efforts … $150,000 or more.
“What we make at NIBROC just helps keeps the lights on for our economic development effort.”