Soper: Lakeshore needs workers
At the monthly meeting of the Woodford Economic Development Authority Friday, April 27, Chairman John Soper said Lakeshore Learning Materials needs nearly 70 more employees.
Soper said he’d visited the educational materials company the day before, and was told by company officials that the Midway Station business now employs 162, but needs a total of 230 by mid-May. The company has raised the minimum starting wage to $13 per hour for full-timer employees, with excellent benefits, he said. Part-timers can make “essentially” $15 per hour working four hours a night, five days a week, with an hour’s pay as bonus for two weeks of perfect attendance.
Soper said the company will work with school officials to arrange transportation for local high school students to tour the facility in the next few weeks in hopes of hiring some for summer or long-term jobs.
EDA member Paul Schreffler, who works at the Kentucky Community College and Technical System headquarters, said he’d connected company officials with community college and University of Kentucky career services professionals.
Soper said because Lakeshore Learning Materials is as close to Fayette County as Versailles, he contacted former EDA executive director Craig McEnally, whose wife is a high-ranking member of the Fayette County schools system.
“And again, this is an opportunity for some summer jobs and some career aspirations as well, so I think anything we can do to help our employers fill these needs, then we’ll reap the benefit of it,” Soper said.
Schreffler said not having a transit authority that could come up with ways for “entry-level” workers to get to companies like Lakeshore Learning Materials is a key challenge.
“And in other places, I’ve seen companies like that fund some transportation from the city centers or the places where (people) who will take those kind of jobs might live …” Schreffler said.
Soper said he’d been told that Lakeshore’s cost of delivery at their Midway Station site is “significantly lower” than at the company’s California headquarters.
“So where I’m going with this is if they can, at some point … solidify their labor source and have career people in there, then I would think an expansion would be in the works,” Soper said.
The result could have the same impact on Woodford County as landing a new 100-employee plant, Soper said.
“But it wouldn’t take up any more natural resources, naturally, because they (Lakeshore) already own the land for the expansion. They bought that 18 acres behind them, if you remember,” Soper said.
New businesses to Versailles?
Soper said he’d spoken to two officials from two businesses looking to relocate to Versailles, but there was no industrial land left for sale here, so he’d approached three existing “industrial operations” to ask if they’d sell small tracts to the companies.
One of those unnamed companies has agreed to release the land to the EDA and the other two have sent the request up the corporate ladder, Soper said. The businesses considering moving to Versailles need five acres and two-to-three acres, he said.