The new president and CEO of Greater Paducah Economic Development won't have to spend too much time getting to know the community, because he's lived here since 1993.
The selection of Bruce Wilcox, president and director of Petter Holdings, to lead local economic development efforts was announced Thursday by Glen Anderson, GPED's interim president and board chairman.
"Bruce is exceptional at helping companies grow and find success in the Paducah market, and has 25 years of proven results," Anderson said. "His experience in the private sector brings a unique dynamic to this role and he will be a key asset for companies looking to move or expand to western Kentucky."
Wilcox, a native of Metropolis, Illinois, has served in a variety of senior-level, corporate positions. His background includes economic development, business acquisition, finance, accounting and operational management. He served as board chair of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce in 2016 and has been active on several other boards in the community.
He joined Henry A. Petter Supply Co. in 2012 as president of the industrial supplier with eight locations in six southeastern states. Last year he was promoted director of Petter Holdings, overseeing all of the entities and divisions of the family-owned company.
Wilcox will begin his duties with GPED on Sept. 9, after he completes some projects and initiatives that are already in place at Petter.
"We're leaving on wonderful terms," he said. "I would hope that the Petter family thinks I'm leaving things in better shape than when I started."
Of his new role, "I'm honored and humbled by this opportunity. I know it's a great responsibility. I'm just blessed beyond measure and very appreciative of the trust and confidence that the board has placed in me and look to do some great things."
The selection of Wilcox drew praise from local officials.
"GPED has definitely had a rough past year and one of the things I have been very interested in is what does it look like for us to ask someone from our local community to lead this organization," said Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless.
"Historically, we have always recruited someone from outside the community, so I'm excited to see what this organization can do with someone who is from here and invested in Paducah."
McCracken County Judge-Executive Craig Clymer called Wilcox "a proven, extraordinary business professional with outstanding abilities and an impeccable reputation. He is homegrown, has his roots and his heart here, knows what we want for the community and knows how to go about getting it."
Sandra Wilson, chamber president, said: "We are looking forward to working with Bruce in his new position. He's smart, driven and just an overall great person. He will have the very best interest of our community at heart and work hard to bring in new jobs.
"We look forward to having a strong partnership with him to advance our community."
Wilcox was familiar with the workings of the joint city-county economic development organization during his tenure as chamber board chair, since at that time the chamber had a seat on what was then called PED (Paducah Economic Development).
"About a year ago, when the leadership position within PED was vacated, my wife (Jill) and I were going to a family reunion in Sedalia on a Saturday afternoon and the story came on the radio," Wilcox said. "She said, 'Bruce, oh my gosh, you'd be perfect for that job. You ought to reach out to somebody.'"
Over the course of the next several months, Wilcox said several community business leaders reached out to him to see if it was something he would be interested in. After he thought more about it and decided he might be able to "help out and make a difference" he let it be known he would be interested.
According to Anderson, GPED fulfilled its goal of "finding the right person, for the right reasons" in the hiring of Wilcox.
"We saw it as an opportunity," Anderson said. "You have an individual who is well respected in the community, well known in the community, that has already established numerous relationships. And, the business is driven by relationships."
Wilcox considers himself a servant leader.
"I'm very blessed. I feel that I have a fiduciary responsibility to properly manage the assets and opportunities that are entrusted to us with GPED and everything going on here. I love people ... I think people make the difference."