‘winning’ for both residents and economic growth
With a host of economic initiatives in the pipeline, Danville Kentucky is looking to grow for 2023
When looking for a great place to call home, many residents are looking for a relaxed, small-town way of life while not wanting to forgo top-quality amenities. For the residents of Danville, Kentucky, combining the two is a privilege they get to enjoy every day.
According to its city manager, Danville, Kentucky is a city that is constantly “winning,” based on its steady growth, affordable cost of living, valued partnerships, and strong base of diversified employers and educational institutions. Danville has big plans for the future as it attempts to expand its downtown, attract new employers to support a growing population and tax base, and extend city services to support its citizens’ desire to live, work and play.
“We get inspirational opinions from our residents because they are so informed and educated,” says City Manager Earl Coffey. “I really love how engaged they are in this community. We are only stronger because of that.”
As the Vice President, CFO, and Treasurer of Centre College, a private liberal art undergraduate college with nearly 1,500 students. Brian Hutzley has witnessed firsthand this commitment to the community from residents and city officials. He has worked in four additional college towns during his career in higher education and commends Danville’s priorities and its willingness to let others be involved in the decision-making process.
Says Hutzley: “we work well with the city, county, and other private employers here. Their priorities are spot-on with what is important to us.” Hutzley specifically referenced walking trails and walkability, economic development, opportunities for college graduates, and safe streets as some of the goals that Centre College and Danville are aligned with.
“(The city) understands the value that the college brings and we feel that sense of partnership as well,” he adds.
The 152-acre Centre College is a big part of the Danville community. It is a member of the Associated Colleges of the South and the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities with more than 20-degree programs. Notably, it hosted vice-presidential debates before the 2000 and 2012 elections, the smallest college to have done so at that time. Hutzley says the city has always been helpful in finding a solution for a land acquisition or zoning need, calling Danville the best municipal partner he has ever worked with.
Danville is also home to the Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center (EMRMC), a locally controlled not-for-profit hospital with roughly 225 beds. It is a comprehensive, integrated healthcare delivery system that serves approximately 120,000 residents. EMRMC services these residents and businesses throughout Boyle County, Kentucky, and the border counties of Casey, Garrard, Lincoln, Mercer, and Washington. It is one of the largest employers in the region.
Another large employer is Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems, a leading aircraft wheel and brake supplier serving global customers. Its products are manufactured for clients in such sectors as airline operators, aircraft constructors, private aircraft owners, charter operators, governments and military operations, distributors, and repair stations.
Denyo Manufacturing manufactures and sells a wide range of generators, welding machines, air compressors, and other products, and provides repair and maintenance services for these products in Kentucky. It employs roughly 200 professionals and continues to grow annually.
LaFayette Engineering (LEI) is an electrical controls company involved in the design and installation of controls for conveyor systems, including high-speed case sortation. Its products and comprehensive industry expertise have a positive influence on many industries and companies across the U.S.
With these and other employers, Danville works to solve problems, from the reduction of corporate waste to ensuring high quality and the necessary quantity of water services.
Danville continues to actively recruit new businesses to the city and is committed to remaining diversified in multiple industries to support this ongoing growth. “I think we have been able to retain steady growth because of this diversification,” Coffey says. “We have a strong group of medical companies and interest from more in that area. We always are looking to facilitate solutions.”
Danville Independent Schools serves roughly 1,850 students over a 15-square mile area and is an award-winning school district known for excellence in academics, athletics, and the arts. There is an expectation within the community of achievement at all levels. One way to do this is by promoting the benefits of the Danville Diploma, which encompasses creative learning opportunities that build on individual interests, develop new strengths, and prepare for future success in life.
Danville is an innovative district with a diversified population of students that have achieved high levels of success in academics, theater, science, broadcasting clubs, and teams. Athletic success includes state championships in multiple sports including football.
Among the many examples of partnerships within the school district is the Danville City Commission’s work with the Boyle County Board of Education on a project at the old Jennie Rogers Elementary School on East Main Street in 2022. This project was designed to provide community-wide childcare for children from infants up to three years old, giving families the option of a safe, stable location for childcare. In fact, Danville Schools work closely with Boyle County Schools and other neighboring districts to improve educational opportunities for all.
Moving forward, that includes adding new initiatives to support internships, co-ops, and continuing learning not just for students within Danville Independent Schools, but for adult learners as well.
“We are focused on building pipelines from employers to our educational systems and partners,” says Danville Boyle County Development Corporation Workforce Development Specialist Harold Nally. “We want to connect talent to local jobs and do everything we can to keep our high school graduates and young professionals in their community.”
The city is in the process of reconstructing its Economic Development Committee to be more nimble with nine members. This can help with strengthening existing and establishing new relationships with community organizations, employers, and leaders. These extended partnerships include institutions like Lexington-based Bluegrass Community and Technical College, allowing the city to expand its influence and further support local residents.
Perhaps the biggest mid-term goal for Coffey and the city as a whole is an expansion of the downtown community. This is also a major part of the city’s current Master Plan. One of the key areas of emphasis for downtown expansion is not that there are any blighted areas but underdeveloped areas that would be of interest to developers, entrepreneurs, and investors. The goal is to bring more people downtown, so expanded services will include office, commercial, retail, and more.
“We need to expand space where new businesses can be built,” Coffey says. Hutzley adds that a significant amount of work has been done in the area already.
Moving forward community leaders have several goals to ensure the continued growth of Danville in support of residents, business owners, and partners. Coffey says that housing, marketing and branding, and the downtown expansion, which includes new streetscapes, parking lots, and more will be very important. Getting tracts of land ready for downtown growth may be as important as any initiative Coffey has.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department is also executing its own Master Plan to add new walking paths, tennis courts, baseball fields, and more as a way to support outdoor activities for those who live, work and play in the city.
Hutzley and Coffey recognize the importance of Centre College’s Initiative for Wellness and Athletic Excellence. This $60 million includes a 50-meter natatorium, a new football stadium and fieldhouse, updated indoor tracks, and a new swimming center and pool among other facilities. These additions will allow Centre College to host multiple local, regional, and eventually national swimming, track, and other competitions, bringing more visitors and revenue to Danville.
“This is a huge initiative for Centre College and will really place us among the leaders for colleges of our size for these types of facilities.”
Two final priorities in 2023 and beyond are to upgrade transportation routes and manage utilities to deal with more traffic on major highways U.S. 150 and U.S. 127 that pass through Danville. This includes the updating of a bypass to keep truck traffic away from downtown. The second is a general recommendation to provide the highest level of service possible from the city and its partners to all stakeholders.
“It’s a friendly city where we have high expectations for ourselves and each other and we look out and help support everyone,” Coffey says. “The future is extremely bright.”
Business View had the opportunity to interview city officials with Danville, Kentucky on topics ranging from infrastructure upgrades to drawing business to the thriving area for our series on some of North America’s fastest-growing cities
AT A GLANCE
What: A winning community focused on economic growth
Where: Boyle County, Kentucky
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