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“Foreign” Investment

By Eugenia Jones

(Over the next few weeks, “The Voice” will publish several articles examining “foreigners” -individuals lovingly referred to by locals as foreigners because they are from “outside” of McCreary County (non-natives) and have chosen to live and establish businesses here.)



As a general rule of thumb, McCreary Countians can be their own worst enemies-frequently seeing the “grass as greener” outside of county lines. Distressed by the lack of local job opportunities, County residents often encourage the younger generation to “leave McCreary County” as soon as they graduate from high school.
However, many outsiders (or “foreigners” as they are sometimes lovingly called by locals) see a different, more positive side to McCreary County. They actually see enough potential in McCreary County to live and establish businesses here in a county that is often rated as the poorest in the nation.
According to McCreary County Deputy Judge and Industrial Development Board Director Nathan Nevels, McCreary County has much to offer those interested in coming to McCreary County to establish a business.
“We have some of the cheapest utility rates in the area,” Nevels said. “We also have very reasonable land prices. We have a workforce that is eager for employment, and many who would prefer to work locally instead of having to drive to Somerset or Tennessee.”
Nevels noted it is important to recruit individuals who will move to the county to establish businesses here and fill a void left by the aging of the local “older” generation. He recognized the loss of many in past generations who worked hard for county improvement.
“My second house was in a subdivision built by Oscar Worley,” Nevels recalled. “I miss all the jobs created by Drex Campbell’s company in Pine Knot. We are in great need of a new generation of investors to replace some of the older generation. We need those who will prioritize development of our community by providing increased housing and improvement of the overall quality of life. “Outsiders” can give us a fresh look at ourselves and provide new perspectives on how to improve our county in ways we may not have considered.”
Nevels is honest about obstacles that must be overcome in orde to attract outside investors.
“We still need work on some areas or our infrastructure,” Nevels remarked. “We need natural gas service in more areas of the county, and we still need cable and internet access in some very remote areas. We also need more social activities for our youth.”
Additionally, Nevels emphasized the need for additional housing in the forms of multi-family condominiums and new subdivisions to support the growing population resulting from increased business and industry.
“When they get up to full manufacturing capacity, Fibrotex alone will be hiring a total of 350 new workers,” Nevels shared. “I’ve already had calls from people in Somerset who would like to re-locate closer to their job sites in Stearns.”
Despite obstacles, Nevels enthusiastically encouraged “outside” individuals with businesses to locate in McCreary County.
“Our McCreary County Industrial Development Board can provide contact information for a variety of area business support groups,” Nevels said. “Additionally, our Lake Cumberland Area Development District and our local RECC both have lots of resources to help with funding and startup of new businesses and industries.”
Perhaps one of the best reasons for an outsider to invest in McCreary County is the fact that they are wanted and welcomed here.
“If someone is interested in improving our quality of life and providing jobs and opportunities to McCreary Countians, we are glad to have you,” Nevels exclaimed. “We want to see businesses that are willing to stay here-not just start up and then move to Mexico. That’s one of the great things about Outdoor Venture Corporation, not only have they committed to staying and expanding their job opportunities in McCreary County, they have now even brought in new partners from Israel.”
Nevels urged those who want to start a business in McCreary County to consider living here.
“We have very reasonable rent and utilities as well as lots of activities such as hiking, camping, etc. for families to enjoy,” Nevels noted. “Our social scene is growing, and I would suggest folks check out local Facebook event pages so they know what is occurring on a weekly basis.”
Nevels’ enthusiasm for McCreary County is reiterated by several individuals who have already moved here and established local businesses. In coming issues, “The Voice” will highlight a few of McCreary County’s very own “foreigners”- individuals who have migrated from Chicago, Florida and elsewhere to establish local businesses and make McCreary County their home.

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