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Mark McKenzie, Johnson County Judge-Executive, receives a $35,275 contribution from Kentucky Power for Hager Hill Industrial Site economic development efforts. Presenting the check is Bob Shurtleff, Kentucky Power external affairs manager.

The Johnson County Fiscal Court has received a $35,275 economic development grant from Kentucky Power for improvements to the Hager Hill Industrial Site, according to a statement from Kentucky Power. The Johnson County Fiscal Court held a special called meeting on May 26 to award a contract through a bidding process to the engineering firm that will work on the grant’s designated project.

During the fiscal court’s special meeting, Judge-Executive Mark McKenzie explained that this was the first step in a project that will ultimately cost approximately $310,000, all to be funded through Kentucky Power in installments as it moves along.

The grant is funded through the Kentucky Power Economic Growth Grant (KPEGG) program, the statement said.

The grant will assist in the design and engineering phase of Johnson County’s plan to obtain a Build-Ready certification for the site,

according to the statement.  Build-Ready certification, the statement said, is a program designed by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development that makes sites more marketable to prospective businesses. The certification is proof to a company that unknown obstacles have been removed, the site’s due diligence has been performed and the project implementation timeline has been significantly accelerated, according to the statement.

“One of the most important aspects of economic development is having sites that are ready for companies. The Johnson County work at Hager Hill is an ideal fit for the KPEGG program as one of its major goals is site development,” said Kentucky Power President Brett Mattison. “We commend Johnson County Fiscal Court for their investment in the project and look forward to working with them to bring investment and jobs to eastern Kentucky.”

The statement said the KPEGG program assists in the funding of economic development programs or projects that promote the creation and retention of manufacturing and/or industrial investment and jobs.  The program has completed its fourth yearly cycle and last year 19 grants for economic development efforts in Kentucky Power’s service territory were awarded totaling $859,175, according to the statement.

The program is funded through the Kentucky Economic Development Surcharge, the statement said, and every $1 collected monthly from non-residential customers, company stockholders match the customer contributions dollar for dollar to generate nearly $800,000 annually for investment at the local and regional levels. The program is available in all 20 counties served by Kentucky Power.

During a special-called meeting on Wednesday, May 26, Johnson County Judge-Executive Mark McKenzie announced the awarding of the grant, explained the process a bit more, and opened bids from engineering companies to complete the work, part of the first phase of the grant process.

“The next item is to open and approve bids for engineering services at the Hagerhill Industrial Site. We put a request for bids out for engineering services to continue to move the site toward a Build Ready certification, and the funding for this is provided by Kentucky Power ... and we also have a commitment that, as we complete this phase, there are additional funds available to keep moving this process forward,” McKenzie said.

The fiscal court reviewed multiple bids from Colt Engineering, doing business as Thoroughbred Engineering, for $82,000, and Bocook Engineering for $13,500 for engineering costs. McKenzie recommended to the commissioners that they accept the bid from Bocook engineering.

Commissioner Mike Jarrell asked if the leftover funds could be retained for further phases of the project in the future, clarifying whether excess funds would be lost.

“Yes, Kentucky Power would allow us to apply anything we might not use in this part to the next part,” McKenzie responded. “We made a full request of $310,000 and they asked us to complete this in phases and as we complete each phase, then we go back and ask for the next grouping. So, this keeps moving us toward that Build-Ready designation, and helps us put marketing up for the property through the Economic Development Cabinet, as well as through all other sources.”

Regina McClure, grant writer for the county, said that the phased process was designated by Kentucky Power -- who asked that there be benchmarks along the process to ensure good stewardship of the funds and McKenzie explained that this was reasonable on Kentucky Power’s part.

“Mike, they’re the ones that pulled these components out, we didn’t phase it like that when we sent it in, but they pulled those engineering phases out and said, ‘Do these first,’” McClure said.

“When we sent our application in to Kentucky Power, it covered every item of the Build-Ready process that we had not completed or did not have funding for ... they’re the ones who came back and said, okay, we’ll do $35,000 and then when you complete that, then come back,” McKenzie said. “Which is fair enough, and we talked about that as well, you know. That’s probably a good decision on their part ... to show performance before they assign more money, so we understood.”

The fiscal court approved the motion and awarded the bid to Bocook Engineering.