The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp.’s fiscal year ended on a sour note on June 30 — like most other agencies.

But until the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, the agency was having a good year, Brittaney Johnson, EDC president said Thursday.

“It’s been interesting,” she said. “We’re moving forward with several projects. Companies are still looking to invest in Owensboro and local companies are still looking to expand. Our pipeline is significant.”

Swedish Match hasn’t announced plans for an expansion. But the company said in its quarterly report this week, “Our manufacturing operations in Owensboro continued to impress by managing to further increase utilization and efficiency from existing capacity while continuing to progress with the next phase of the capacity expansion according to plan.”

Johnson said the company continues to hire people.

The annual report says, “80% of the growth in Owensboro/Daviess County comes from existing businesses. Two of the GOEDC’s major expansion projects for 2020 have received preliminary approval (from the state).

“Kimberly Clark’s preliminary approval for a $19 million expansion includes zero job creation but will provide an on-site high-efficiency power and steam production facility.

“Southern Star was preliminarily approved for a $3.3 million expansion that would create 13 additional jobs, as well as office space, upgrades to the parking lot and infrastructure improvements.”

The past year saw five local expansions and 22 projects, the report said.

Johnson said a couple of local expansions are nearing final approval for money from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority.

And a couple of others are planning expansions without state assistance.

Johnson said the EDC is working on its next strategic plan, which should be completed by the end of the year.

Murray State University closed its Small Business Development Center-Owensboro office at the EDC on Sept. 30, 2019.

But in May, the state opened the Kentucky Small Business Development Center in its place.

“We’re excited to host the Small Business Development Center and get that position back,” Johnson said.

The report said Johnson made eight trips last fiscal year to meet with 31 site consultants, direct companies and leaders at the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development to market Owensboro.

Elizabeth Griffith, EDC’s manager of business retention and expansion and workforce development, visited Owensboro’s Sister City of Olomouc, Czech Republic, in the fall of 2019.

She met with Miroslav Žbánek, that city’s mayor, to discuss possible future economic development opportunities between the cities.

The EDC hosted three familiarization tours to show project managers from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development the various amenities Owensboro has to offer during the fiscal year.

The report said, “Important areas typically explored during FAM tours are the Owensboro Regional Airport, the beautiful downtown riverfront, MidAmerica Airpark and the Owensboro Riverport Authority, which is the largest and most profitable port in the state of Kentucky.”

It said median household income in Daviess County increased from $48,088 in 2018-2019 to $50,039 in 2019-20.

Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301 klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com.

Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301

klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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