• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Workforce development discussed at EDA meeting

The Woodford Economic Development Authority's (EDA) Aug. 26 meeting was dominated by news of a California company's plan to come to Midway Station, but members - including one who's leaving - did have other matters to discuss. Workforce development EDA Chair John Soper recently attended a conference sponsored by the Kentucky Institute of Economic Development, and said the buzz phrase there was "workforce development." Soper said he would use an analogy when pitching the idea to local leaders. "If you just build a new city hall, or built a new courthouse, you would insure it. We just built a bunch of jobs and it's a great source of revenue, but we're going to have to insure it. We're going to have to devote some . meaningful money (to) workforce development ." Soper said. Soper said he'd make the pitch at a Monday meeting with industry leaders, Woodford County Schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins, a Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) official and others. The goal is to develop specific training for manufacturing jobs, some of which is already offered at Woodford County schools. "Every company in Versailles and Woodford County that I know of in manufacturing is hiring right now . and so we've got to do something to create the right skill set for them," Soper said. "Ideally, we'd like to get some of that $100 million that the governor set aside for workforce development ." Coleman said last December, he met with KCTCS officials to discuss the possibility of using the old Kroger building in the Lexington Road Plaza as a workforce development campus of sorts. "That hasn't materialized yet, but we need something in this area," Coleman said. Soper said he and Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott met with the Lexington Road Plaza owners about that prospect, "and they were very encouraging. They would be willing to consider something of that nature, and even said that when we spoke of the 10 percent private equity that has to go into it, they indicated that they would possibly contribute to that, probably through some building improvements ." Graves to leave Lauren Graves, who was appointed to the EDA in July of 2013 and is presently treasurer, announced her resignation, to become effective after the group's September meeting. Graves and her husband are moving to Frankfort. "I appreciate the opportunity to work with you all and to be a part of this group," Graves said. "You've done well. We appreciate having you. Thank you for your service," Soper said. After the announcement, elections were held for the group's officers, and Courtney Roberts made a motion to reelect Soper as chair, Mike Coleman as vice chair and nominate Ron Layman as treasurer. It passed unanimously. Lakeshore Learning Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift attended the meeting and praised the work of Soper and company that helped attract Lakeshore Learning to Midway Station. "I can't thank you all enough for what you've done for Midway. When you look at Lakeshore now with 262 jobs, and it swells to about 400 for parts of the year, and American Howa Kentucky - now we're looking, on average, 350 to 400 jobs out there," Vandegrift said. "I would venture to guess that American Howa and Lakeshore probably represent an almost 100 percent increase in jobs in Midway." Soper noted that Vandegrift and his then-pregnant wife, Katie, had dinner at the Holly Hill Inn with Soper, EDA Executive Director Craig McAnelly and Lakeshore executives in May. "The next morning, they wanted to meet bright and early and walk the streets of Midway with the mayor. They wanted to see what the community was about. And then we went out to the site and confirmed what they thought ." Soper said. Soper asked Vandegrift if he and Katie had given their son, born Aug. 18, "Lakeshore" as a middle name. Vandegrift said he'd considered the idea. Jackson Thomas Vandegrift's middle name comes from Katie's father, he said. McAnelly said there still plenty of due diligence to do before Lakeshore Learning comes to Midway Station, ranging from infrastructure upgrades to adding turn lanes to McKinney Drive. Executive session After a closed executive session, members voted unanimously to: . Enter into an option to purchase 67 acres of land on East Leestown Road from Dr. James and Marilyn Roach for $100. The actual price the EDA will ultimately pay for the land was not disclosed, due to confidentiality reasons. Soper said the land could be used to house an agriculture-related enterprise and medical clinic. "We're also exploring the possibility of putting soccer fields there," Soper said. . Widen McKinney Avenue within the 100-feet existing easement, as requested by Lakeshore Learning, pending assistance by the state. Soper said if the state doesn't help, "We'll figure out a way to do it." .Release "green roof" and other deed restrictions at Midway Station devised during the New Urbanism era that were never signed and recorded.

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