• John McGary, Woodford Sun News Editor

Soper touts 2nd Industry Day

Woodford Economic Development Authority Chairman John Soper said the 2nd annual Industry Day on March 20, in which more than 200 high school seniors toured local plants, was a “great event.”

Most of the students toured two of five participating plants (Yokohoma, NSG Pilkington, Quad/Graphics, Ruggles Sign and Ledvance) – one in the morning and another after lunch. Lunch, at Versailles Baptist Church, was paid for in part by another plant, More Than A Bakery.

Soper said he and Woodford County schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins were pleased by the student turnout and the way they were received by the plants.

“They really dedicated some manpower to do it. For example, Quad, they broke it down to where they had one of their people for every five students … (and) a lot of opportunity for one-on-one questions,” Soper said.

Soper said Yokohama’s human resources officer did a great job talking about transitioning from being a student to being in the workforce and that students will write about how the event went for them. Next year, he hopes to hold another Industry Day for teachers.

The goal of the program is to recruit more young workers for local industries and, with help from school officials, prepare them for what

Soper and others say are clean, good-paying jobs. Soper said starting a job at one of the local plants doesn’t mean an end to education, as many offer tuition reimbursement and flexible scheduling.

“ … If you want to go to school, they’re going to figure out a way to make it happen. That message, I think, was sent loud and clear,” Soper said.

New website

Katie Vandegrift accepted Soper’s offer to chair a committee that will “freshen up” the EDA’s website, which is maintained by the Bluegrass Area Development District. William Downey and Courtney Roberts volunteered to serve on the committee.

Downey said officials from businesses scouting locations want as much information as they can, including data on utilities, infrastructure, and access to highways and railroads.

Budget, bills

Members unanimously passed a motion to request funding from the two city councils and Woodford Fiscal Court for fiscal 2018, which begins July 1, at last year’s levels: $5,250 from fiscal court, $7,500 from the Versailles City Council, and $2,250 from Midway City Council.

Two bill-related motions passed unanimously: Using a portion of a $2,000 grant from the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors to pay part of the cost of the Industry Day lunches and paying Ruggles Sign $175.43 to install new light bulbs at the Versailles Industrial Park.

Soper also received unanimous approval to use EDA funds to pay the registration for a “summit” put on by the Kentucky Association for

Economic Development on Tuesday, March 27. He said similar conferences played a role in finding companies like Lakeshore Learning Materials. Big blue bylaw?

Soper opened the meeting by joking that he would support a motion to change EDA bylaws in order to start meetings two hours later the morning after late UK basketball games. The previous evening, UK’s game against Kansas State began at 9:45.

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