Officials with Drake Lighting didn’t initially plan to locate in Paducah’s Commerce Park, since for the past year they had been considering expanding their corporate office and operation in Mayfield.
But a series of contacts and conversations led them to acquire the former American Commercial Barge Line facility in Commerce Park, where they will relocate their business and build a new distribution warehouse.
Bruce Wilcox, Greater Paducah Economic Development president/CEO, announced the park’s new tenant at this week’s Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce Power in Partnership breakfast.
“Economic development often comes down to having the right piece of real estate at the right time,” Wilcox said.
“Having an inventory of land and sizable buildings in our asset portfolio enables us to act quickly and secure projects when they arise. We are thrilled Drake is occupying this facility.”
Drake Lighting is a distributor of obstruction lighting solutions helping mark structures such as cellular communication towers, broadcast towers, industrial chimney stacks and wind turbines that are federally required to be lit according to FAA standards.
The company plans to invest approximately $2 million in the existing facility coupled with the construction of a distribution and warehousing facility in the coming months. Drake will be employing 60 full-time employees and generate an anticipated recurring community economic impact of $6.8 million per year.
“We were working with Graves County at the time,” said David Shepeard, Drake president. “They have been nothing but great people for us.”
When the building became available, Drake officials began communicating with Dawn Arnold, of Arnold Realty Group, who, in turn, introduced them to Wilcox, Shepeard said.
“She made that happen,” he said of Arnold.
As things progresses, Drake representatives met with Graves County officials and explained the situation, Shepeard said.
“That (process) took a little while. But after that, we got together with the city (Paducah) and they agreed to a few things and we said, ‘wow, we’ve got to do it,’ ” he said.
“It was about half of what we were going to spend on the new building (if in Mayfield) and double the size.”
Doug Jones, Drake vice president, said the majority of the company’s employees are in located in this part of west Kentucky.
“All of the lighting employees, administrative, monitoring ... that is local. Some of our service employees are located within the state, such as the Lexington area,” he said.
The move to the Paducah location will also allow Drake to expand its monitoring side of the business.
“It’s small now, but we’ll have room to expand it. That’s a big one for us,” Shepeard said.
Local government leaders praised the collective effort to bring about the Drake announcement.
“Our city leadership team and community partners worked well with Drake Lighting demonstrating the value of operating in Paducah, how they can be successful, and incentivizing them to choose our community,” said Paducah Mayor George Bray.
“We look forward to seeing them grow and prosper in our community.”
McCracken County Judge-Executive Craig Clymer called the Drake announcement “the result of a lot of dedicated people working hard to bring good jobs to our community.”