EDA discusses 2nd Industry Day, U-Haul
The Woodford Economic Development Authority’s (EDA) monthly meeting Friday, Jan. 26 featured a discussion of the 2nd annual Industry Day – and what U-Haul will likely have to do before opening in the Lexington Road shopping center.
Chairman John Soper said this year’s Industry Day will take place March 20 and feature high school seniors touring two of five local plants and perhaps Lakeshore Learning Materials. The five plants are the same as last year: NSG Pilkington, Yokohama, Ruggles Sign, Quad Graphics and Ledvance (formerly OSRAM Sylvania). Groups of students will tour one in the morning and another after lunch.
Soper said Woodford County High School librarian Mona Romine has already had human resources workers from three local industries in to speak to seniors during a study hall-like class.
“And they come in and they talk about their job expectations, benefits and this type of thing and it’s been well-received by the students, and I think this is a great prep for the students before they go out to our Industry Day …” Soper said.
Soper said he’d had a “great meeting” with Quad Graphics recently to discuss an apprenticeship program the company would like to begin.
“What you see in these plants today is … a lot of robotics doing the repetitive heavy lifting, and you see a lot of smart people running the machines,” Soper said.
Soper said state officials told him that Russellville leads the state in apprenticeship programs, with four ongoing and others planned.
William Downey said his employer, R.J. Corman, has a small apprenticeship program in a signaling business it owns.
“I think we’ll hopefully see the same thing here …” Soper said.
Soper said Lakeshore Learning Materials already has 90 employees and wants to hire 45 more as soon as possible. With its “peak season” in July and August, the company, which distributes educational materials, will also be hiring seasonal workers for the summer.
Soper said he’d talked to company and local school officials about whether Lakeshore could hold a job fair of some sort near the end of the school year, which would give graduating seniors a leg up on a summer job there.
Paul Schreffler said “rising juniors” could be prospects for seasonal work at Lakeshore, but Soper said right now, students under the age of 18 can’t work there. He said a temporary job agency that has a contract with the state could offer a work-around for that, however.
“I’d love to see a pipeline where our students could get those jobs and get involved in the workforce and maybe it could possibly lead to a career there, or that could be their summer employment every year while they’re going to college,” Soper said. Soper said the willingness of school district officials to tailor some courses for industrial and manufacturing jobs helped make area apprenticeship programs more likely.
The recent purchase of the Lexington Road Shopping Center (site of the old Kroger) was discussed, with Soper pointing out that the EDA was not involved in the controversial transaction. He said it seemed strange that the company bought the property without first clearing a likely hurdle from the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission.
Planning Commission Director Pattie Wilson said that warehousing – the prime use of the company’s new property – is permitted in areas zoned industrial, but not in B-4 (professional office) areas like the shopping center.
“There is a provision that says the Board of Adjustment can determine, on a case by case basis, that this proposed use they’re talking is similar to other permitted uses in that zone. So they’ll have to apply to the Board of Adjustment for that determination …” Wilson said.
Any appeal to the decision would have to be filed in Woodford Circuit Court within 30 days, she said.