Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Lakeshore expects to be operational with 100 workers Nov. 3; unsure but 'optimistic' on timeline for goal of 262

The Lakeshore Learning Materials distribution center is under construction in Midway Station.
This is an expanded version of the original story.
By Elizabeth Allen
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Construction of Lakeshore Learning Materials’ distribution facility in Midway Station is right on schedule, a top company official told the Midway City Council Monday evening.

Paul Chisholm, the company’s vice president of Eastern U.S. distribution, said it is still on track to begin shipping from the facility by Nov. 3, at which point it expects to have 100 people on the payroll.

Paul Chisholm of Lakeshore spoke to the council Monday evening.
Chisholm said the company will make a “big push” for hiring in August and September, with the goal of work starting Sept. 29, depending on weather. He said 46 construction days have already been lost to rain, but the company still hopes to have the plant under roof by its original target date of May 16.

Support from local and state officials “has been phenomenal,” he said.

Asked after the meeting when the 262 jobs Lakeshore has promised are expected to be filled, Chisholm said that depends on when the building's expansion is completed. He also said recent elections may affect the timetable, since the company is heavily reliant on public-school funding.

“We’re optimistic,” Chisholm said, adding that he expects the plant to employ 150 to 175 people a year from now. It has three years to reach 262 jobs and kick in the state and local incentives offered to attract it.

Chisholm also gave new insight into Lakeshore's decision to come to Midway. He said the final decision essentially came down to three factors: location, available labor and a sense of community.

The central location of Midway made it a better choice than the runner-up, High Point, N.C., Chisholm said. North Carolina has a “right to work” law and no inventory tax, but those advantages were not enough to outweigh Midway’s.

Chisholm said Midway was also expected to provide a workforce that was more likely to stick around and contribute to the culture of the company. He said Lakeshore could already be shipping from readily available buildings in Shepherdsville or Hebron, but competition for workers is heavier there.

Perhaps most importantly, Chisholm said, Midway is a place where he and other Lakeshore officials felt like the company could be part of a community.

He recalled Lakeshore CEO Bo Kaplan saying as they left Midway, "'This place feels right; this place feels like home. Chisholm said the feeling was "intangible."

In response to a question, he said one thing was not a factor: the recently passed "fairness ordinance" that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

After Chisholm updated the council members on Lakeshore's progress, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift updated them on Midway's occupational tax revenue.

Through December, Vandegrift said, Midway had already taken in $331,000 in payroll taxes. This means that in only half of the fiscal year, the city had already received 82 percent of the budgeted $400,000 in payroll taxes for the year.

After the meeting, Vandegrift told the Midway Messenger that the council was conservative in its occupational-tax budgeting. He said construction work on Lakeshore’s plant and the American Howa Kentucky auto-parts plant, now open, is bringing in unexpected revenue, local restaurants are doing better and Midway University has added to its payroll.

Among other business, the council approved an event permit for the 14th annual 5K Race for Education on April 8 and agreed to have the cemetery house torn down. Vandegrift said he would probably seek bids for the work because city workers are about to enter their busy season.

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