In his 10 years leading the National Quilt Museum, Frank Bennett developed quite a fondness for the people of Paducah and west Kentucky.
When he announced in February that he was leaving his position as CEO of the museum at the end of June, he indicated he planned to stay in the area and pursue other interests.
That desire led to his new position as a procurement consultant in the new Paducah office of the Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center.
The center promotes economic development and private sector business growth by assisting companies interested in providing products or services to federal, state and local governments.
“I loved the museum, loved the 10 years I spent there,” he said. “I’m always looking for opportunities where I can make a meaningful impact. It’s the No. 1 thing on my list any time I’m looking for a new job or new project,” Bennett said.
While he doesn’t have any experience in government procurement, Bennett said the position interested him “because I care about the Paducah-west Kentucky economy and the people here. It seemed like an opportunity to really make an impact on people who matter to me.”
In 2020, KYPTAC helped more than 1,700 Kentucky-based companies procure over $736 million in federal and state government contracts. The center’s consultants help with contracting-readiness, assisting with the registration process, and market research.
“Our desired outcome from this expansion is to remove obstacles for small businesses that want to sell to the government,” said Nancy Brown, KYPTAC executive director.
Of Bennett’s selection, she said: “Frank is a confident individual that is well-connected in the western region. His connections and ties to the west region serve him in cultivating trust with our clients. He also happens to be a good listener and has the organizational and leadership background that every business owner should possess.
“I have great faith in Frank’s abilities in serving our newest and existing clients in west Kentucky.”
Many companies don’t know about procurement opportunities and how to bid on them, Bennett said.
“What KYPTAC does is help educate people on how to register, look for opportunities to work with the government and bid on them, with the ultimate goal of bringing more dollars into the area and help grow the economy,” he said.
“The government doesn’t produce things, so everything that they have has to come from the private sector. Every single day they are putting out more requests for proposals in some form. There’s just a lot of opportunities and we want to bring those opportunities to west Kentucky companies.”
Bennett will be using the co-working space at Sprocket in Paducah to meet with clients, Brown said. The Paducah location will be the organization’s fifth in Kentucky. Other locations include Lexington, Bowling Green, Elizabethtown and Somerset.
KYPTAC also plans to open locations in Louisville and Covington in 2021.
Whatever position Bennett wound up taking, his “home” address wasn’t going to change.
“I was not leaving Paducah, no matter what,” he said. “This is my home now. I’ve got great friends here. This is where I plan to live and so I was really blessed that an opportunity like this that matches my passion for this area came along at the time I was looking.”