Thursday, March 31, 2011

OCTC and Jobs

In further reflection and commemoration of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Owensboro Community and Technical College, I offer the following analysis of jobs data before and after the establishment of the college in 1986.
  • According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Owensboro has experienced far higher rates of job growth since the opening of OCTC when compared to the 15 years prior to the existence of the college.  Job growth in the region from 1970 to 1985 was 17%, compared to 25% since the opening of OCTC in 1986.  
  • As far as manufacturing jobs are concerned the numbers are striking and significant.  In the 15 years before OCTC opened its doors, the region was bleeding manufacturing jobs at a rate of  hundreds of jobs a year.   A total of 1,500 jobs or 16% were lost from 1970 to 1985.  In the 15 years after the college opened, the region actually gained manufacturing jobs.  Manufacturing job retention rates in Owensboro from 1985 to 2008 far surpass the national level and the levels in many of Owensboro's peer regions.   Since 1985, Owensboro has retained 98% of manufacturing jobs.  This compares favorably to 85% nationally and 70% in our peer regions.   The importance of a highly skilled and technical workforce is a critical component of this retention and OCTC, particularly since the consolidation of the technical programs, has been a key part of the region's competitiveness in the retention of manufacturing jobs. 
  • Since the college opened Owensboro has seen a marked increase in professional service occupations that typically require some form of post secondary preparation, a 50% increase since 1985.  This compares to 30% increase from 1970 to 1985.  
I recognize that multiple factors play a part in the changes to the economy over the past 40 or 50 years.  But numbers like these, particularly in the area of manufacturing, demonstrate the importance of increased access to higher education and training.   The emphasis on technical skills provided by OCTC certainly have been a major driver of our regional competitiveness over the past several decades. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Owensboro College Celebrates New President and 25th Anniversary

The Owensboro Community and Technical College celebrated the inauguration of Dr. Jim Klauber as the institution's fifth president as part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the college's founding in Owensboro.

In reflection on this occasion, the founding of OCTC is easily the most important event in the last 25 in the Greater Owensbro region. It has raised education levels and contributed to the region's ability to be competitive in the face of significant changes impacting the global economy. Nearly all of these changes, from the growth of jobs in industries like health care and biotech to retention of jobs in declining industries in manufacturing, have been rooted in human capital.

OCTC has played a pivotal role in preparing Owensboro's human capital to navigate the changing economy with job training in every sector of the regional economy.

Since the consolidation of the community and technical colleges in 1997, enrollments at OCTC have increased significantly, to over 6,000 students. There is no better tool to improve the workforce and economic development of a community than a strong community college—and we have one of the best.

From the enrollment of high school students through the Discover College program to the customized business and industry training delivered to area businesses, OCTC demonstrates why a strong comprehensive community college and programs such as the Advanced Technology Center are key to the future progress and prosperity of Owensboro.

The community college movement has been called the Ellis Island of our time. It provides the same hope for the future that the shores of our great country provided immigrants of a century ago.

Like so many things that happen in Owensboro, the citizens of the community were slow to embrace this movement and many even fought it.  To those leaders who fought to create this beacon of hope and those who continue their legacy today, I say thank you for showing us the power of transforming a community.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Joe Berry Appointed to EDC Downtown Development Position

The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation announces the appointment of Joe Berry as Project Manager for Downtown Development.  Berry’s role will be to coordinate all private investment efforts specific to downtown Owensboro.

Berry has worked as an economic and community development planner for the past two years at the Green River Area Development District.  At GRADD he managed small business projects through the $2.5 million revolving loan fund.  He also administered funding to the region through Community Development Block Grants and from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration. 

“Joe Berry represents the profile of the kind of young professional we are attracting to this region with our efforts to revitalize downtown,” said Nick Brake, EDC President/CEO.  “His enthusiasm and experience in working closely with economic development projects will take our private investment efforts to the next level.”

Mr. Berry was born and raised in Owensboro, a graduate of Owensboro High School.  He is currently a downtown resident. 

He holds a Master of Public Administration from Western Kentucky University and an undergraduate degree from Transylvania University.  He is certified in Economic Development Finance and is a graduate of the Kentucky Institute for Economic Development.  His employment will begin on April 18.

“It is certainly an exciting time for downtown and economic development overall in our community,” said Berry.  “I am delighted to join the team of professionals at the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation and I look forward to working with the next phase of our master plan in attracting private investment to match and exceed the commitment of public funds downtown.”

Mixed Use Development Planned for Bates Building in Downtown Owensboro

Terry Woodward said last week he has purchased the three-story Bates Building at 101 W. Second St., the building next to it and a large vacant lot on Veterans Boulevard for $1.2 million.

The owner of WaxWorks/VideoWorks plans to build a "mixed-use, retail, high-rise condominium" on the lot, after the Bates Building has been restored.

"That is my plan," Woodward said. "Obviously, it's very preliminary, but that's what I want to do."

The purchase includes the building at 105 W. Second St., occupied by Patti's ReSale store (the former Woolworth's). The open lot behind those two buildings overlooks Veterans Boulevard and Smothers Park. The large lot sits between the city's parking garage and the American Legion.

Hollison Technologies, Centre will be featured on Fox Business

The Fox Business Channel is filming a segment featuring Hollison Technologies at Owensboro's Centre for Business and Research.

Hollison, a tenant at the 37,000 square foot business accelerator, is a provider of products and services to the food industry to detect and track contaminants in the food supply chain.

Hollison provides unique products and services for food protection and the detection of contaminants in the food supply chain including, but not limited to, farms, bulk storage facilities, commodity transportation, food processing, food distribution and point of consumption. The company offers patented technology for the protection of the entire food supply chain with the detection and identification of chemical, biological and radiological contamination in food commodities, processed food and beverages. Hollison has developed a proprietary secure web-based food tracking capability for use with its breakthrough sampling and detection technologies to offer complete chain-of-custody information complete with available contamination test data.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

EDC, OCTC partner to create certificate for Financial and Customer Services

The Owensboro Community and Technical College and the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation have teamed up to create a customized certificate to prepare the workforce for the growing number of jobs regionally in the financial and professional services sector.

The professional-level certificate, taught through the OCTC business department, consists of four classes ranging from basic customer service and communications to money and finance. The program will be open to high school students through the Discover College and Community Campus Business Academy.

"The professional service sector is the fastest growing job area of both the national and regional economies," said Nick Brake, President/CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. "This certificate will allow both young people entering the workforce and incumbent workers between jobs to prepare for positions in back offices, call centers, and the financial services industry."

The customer support, call center and financial services sector in the Owensboro region consists of over 1,500 employees at six companies. Both US Bank and First Security Bank announced expansions of their mortgage processing services in 2010. The new US Bank Home Mortgage center, which will open later this week in the Mid America Airpark, will add up to 500 additional jobs over the next few years.

Peak Inside the Centre for Business and Research, Owensboro's business incubator

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

“Buck$ for Bright Ideas” the Owensboro Region's Innovative Business Idea Competition

Buck$ for Bright Ideas is a publicly funded program that encourages residents in our region of the state to move forward with their “bright ideas.” Many people in our part of the state have innovative ideas that could become the foundation for a new business. Some of those people need help moving forward toward commercialization. The eMerging Ventures Center for Innovation is here to help with that effort. Our business development experts will work with you to turn your idea into a business reality!

Complete a simple application and compete for over $25,000 worth of valuable prizes. There will be multiple winners who will receive free services from regional professional firms for market research, patent research, accounting support, product design help and more.  All applicants are eligible to receive one-on-one assistance with their idea at no charge!  All ideas submitted will be held in strict confidence.

The application deadline is April 15. An awards banquet for all participants is planned for April 28 at 6:00 PM at the Innovation and Commercialization Center located at the WKU Center for Research and Development at 2413 Nashville Rd.  in Bowling Green.

For more information on the program and an application form, go to You can also contact Madison Silvert at eMerging Ventures. Phone: 270.663-1050. Email:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

US 231 opening brings Owensboro one step closer to I-64/ I-65 Corridor Connector

The completion of the four-lane US 231 from the Natcher Bridge in Owensboro to Interstate 64 in Dale, Indiana has brought the region one step closer to the interstate system.

As Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels cuts the ribbon to open the Indiana side today only a 2-mile stretch of the Owensboro By-Pass Extension project remains to complete the 100-mile, four-lane route connecting I-64 in Dale to I-65 in Bowling Green.

The Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation are marketing this new four-lane route as the Interstate 64-65 Corridor Connector.  The Owensboro exit around Kentucky 54 and the new hospital will be at the mid-point of this corridor.

"This will become Owensboro's exit on the national interstate network," said Nick Brake, President/CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp.  "The commercial development along this corridor should be significant for this region."

The Natcher Parkway will eventually become an interstate spur connecting to I-65.

"We are well on our way to transforming Owensboro from a community that has traditionally been considered somewhat 'transportation poor' to one that is fully intermodal," said Chamber of Commerce President Jody Wassmer.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ribbon Cutting Tuesday on US 231 Corridor in Indiana

DALE, Ind.—The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) Vincennes District will celebrate the opening of the new U.S. 231 Corridor with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1:30 p.m. local time, Tuesday, March 15. The event will be held at the new U.S. 231 and State Road 162 interchange.

WHO: Governor Mitch Daniels, INDOT Commissioner Michael B. Cline, Vincennes District Deputy Commissioner Rusty Fowler, and local officials

WHEN: 1:00 p.m. (local time) Tuesday, March 15

WHERE: The new U.S. 231 southbound lanes, on the southwest side of the interchange.

WHAT: Opening of the new four-lane U.S. 231 Corridor in Spencer County. Governor Mitch Daniels’ Major Moves project improves safety and mobility of motorists using U.S. 231. Construction of the new corridor provides a wider, safer roadway for motorists.

PARKING: Please follow staff on site for parking location.

INDOT reminds motorists to follow the posted work zone speed limit, use caution and consider worker safety when traveling through a construction zone. For the latest news and information about INDOT, please visit

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, March 4, 2011

Owensboro 2010 job growth out performs Kentucky MSAs

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its preliminary December employment report for 365 U.S. metro areas earlier this month. The data shows good news for Owensboro along with 40 states, the District of Columbia and 214 (59%) of the nation’s metro areas, all of which saw net job gains in 2010.

According to the report and Wadley-Donovan GrowthTech, an economic development research firm, growth in Owensboro led all Kentucky MSAs during 2010. The Kentucky data shows Owensboro job growth at 2.3 percent, or a net gain of 1,100 jobs in 2010. The Bowling Green MSA was second with 1.9 percent growth. Louisville and Lexington posted net job losses of -0.6 percent and -0.3 percent respectively.

Overall, Kentucky netted 21,600 jobs from January to December 2010, a growth rate of 1.3 percent.

The Kentucky data is available at the following link:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cuts to WIA would devastate Owensboro regional workforce efforts

The House Continuing Budget Resolution, passed last week in Washington, would gut training and workforce development funds that would have a devastating impact of job seekers, employers, and workers in the Greater Owensboro region.

The House-passed Continuing Resolution (CR), would eliminate ALL funding for the
Workforce Investment Act (WIA) in Program Year 2011. This amounts to a $2.97 billion cut at the federal government level. The impact on Kentucky would be over $40 million.

In the Owensboro region, the Green River Workforce Investment Board has been allocated over $1.5 million in funds, a vast majority of which cover direct tuition payments for over 400 dislocated workers to seek retraining and higher education so that they can competitively rejoin the workforce.

It is easy to talk about cuts when just considering the numbers, but in our region it is the faces of the dislocated workers from Hon or GE that these cuts really impact. But the impact is greater than just these individuals. It has a significant impact on the future competitiveness of the entire region through the direct wages, the new jobs created, and the employers that are able to hire more highly skilled workers.

At a recent Roundtable of CEOs, the Top 25 employers in the Owensboro region identified workforce development, education and training to develop a more highly skilled workforce as the TOP competitiveness issue in the region. Cuts to WIA undermine what the business community needs to be competitive in the future.

To sign a national letter in support of WIA funding please visit or visit the National Association of Workforce Investment Boards Facebook site.