In 2016, Sentury Tire Company vetted one hundred (100) communities and building sites in fifteen (15) different states for the purpose of constructing a 1.3 million square foot facility. The anticipated construction costs of the facility would be $530 million dollars. The expansion would result in one thousand (1,000) new jobs with an average annual wage of $45,500.00. The anticipated electrical usage was 94 million kilowatts annually.
The Ohio River Triple Rail Mega Site made the list of top ten (10) sites. However, when the site selection committee narrowed the ten (10) sites to five (5) sites, our site was eliminated. On September 8, 2016, Sentury Tire Company announced that it had selected a site in Georgia for its expansion.
After the elimination of the Ohio River Triple Rail Mega Site from this particular competition, Paducah Economic Development (PED) authorized a study analyzing “electric utility rate competitiveness and its important role in the battle for jobs and investment.” (The first page of the report is the featured in the above photo). The content of the 28 page report is still considered somewhat confidential. A recent request (by me) for a copy of the report to be released under the Kentucky Open Records Act resulted in a response that the report is still preliminary. I anticipate the report will eventually be released in a redacted form because substantial public funds purchased the analysis and report. In other words the information was bought and paid for by the public and the public owns the report.
In the case of Sentury Tire Company, the cost of power was a huge component of their decision. “Out of the ten (10) communities, the power rate proposed in Paducah was the ninth (9th) highest and within a week was the highest when other community power providers submitted a new proposal.” Sentury Tire Company’s annual cost savings with the cheaper power rate was about 2 million dollars.
In my opinion, the “takeaway” from this information is two-fold. First, we should celebrate the validation of the Ohio River Triple Rail Mega Site. Our site competed well against a hundred other sites. However, the goal with economic development is to win and the second “takeaway” point is to consider ways we can make our site more competitive in the next contest for jobs. Hopefully, the transparency of both our strengths and our weaknesses will make our prospects for the future stronger.
Our community enjoys quality and added democracy in public servants who serve on either public utility boards or the boards of utility cooperatives (organizations owned by the consumers/members). I feel certain a collaborative approach to maximize the marketing effort of this site is on the horizon. The ancillary and positive effects of a “win” with this site are tremendous. If chosen to serve on the McCracken County Commission, I hope to help in that collaborative effort.