The Paducah Area Community Resource Organization (PACRO) approved approximately $300,000 in grant requests for projects in two of its member communities this week, continuing a program initiated over a year ago.

Meeting at the new CFSB facility in Mayfield on Wednesday, the PACRO board approved grants of $200,000 and $95,000, respectively, for economic development-related projects in Graves and Marshall counties.

In setting up the grant program, PACRO has allotted funds for four Kentucky counties (Graves, Marshall, McCracken and Ballard) and Metropolis, Illinois, as well as West Kentucky Community and Technical College, the UK College of Engineering-Paducah campus, and Murray State University's Small Business Development Center.

Requests from each entity to use grant funds must be approved by the PACRO board as a whole.

PACRO board member Ryan Drane, Graves County Economic Development president, presented the $200,000 request on behalf of the Graves County Fiscal Court.

"We are in the process of constructing a 100,000 square foot spec building, just down the road in the Hickory Industrial Park," Drane said. "The building is expandable to 400,000 square feet. It will be the largest spec building west of I-65 in the state of Kentucky."

The project totals approximately $3 million, and will also include $2.4 million of local funds, a $350,000 grant from TVA, and an additional $50,000 from TVA in-lieu-of-tax funding, according to Drane.

"Our intent with this building, obviously, is to market it to a manufacturing company," he said. "It will target about 150 jobs or more."

Drane said the building, expected to be completed in March of next year, has already been proposed for four potential projects that it meets the specifications for.

According to Marshall County Judge-Executive Kevin Neal, the $95,000 request will be used to match existing funds from the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority and TVA in-lieu-of-tax funding to pay the 2019 debt service on the Southwest One Industrial Park.

The board also approved a proposal to pay AlignPM, a limited liability corporation operated by Scott Darnell, eight percent of the proceeds from the sale of surplus assets from the U.S. Department of Energy's Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

Darnell serves as executive director of PACRO through an independent contractor agreement between his company, AlignPM, and the organization, in which he is paid $6,000 per month.

Neal, who chairs the PACRO board, introduced the discussion on compensation related to the surplus assets sale.

According to Neal, the organization's goal, in line with the DOE's mission, is "to get monies in our counties to create jobs, advance economic development and grow as a region. I feel like PACRO has done that for the past year-and-a-half, going on two years, and I'm proud to be a part of the organization.

"A huge part of that has been AlignPM and Scott. And, without him, I don't think the successes that we've had could have been obtained," he said.

Neal said eight percent was fair compensation, and less than the 10 percent which was previously paid to the Greater Paducah Economic Development, which PACRO was contracted to provide administrative support to the organization.

Betsy Flynn, who serves as PACRO's vice-chair, also spoke favorably of the progress being made by the organization.

"I think I've been on this board for 23 years, if I'm not mistaken," Flynn said. "PACRO dealt with DOE for about 20 of those years. Nothing ever happened, we had the same reports every time we met, so I am so proud to be a part of it now that we're actually doing something."

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