Local economy bouncing back, McMahan says

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By Calen McKinney



Taylor County's top economic development official says he believes the county moved forward last year, and he hopes that trend continues.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce recently released a report on the state's economic condition.

Taylor County isn't mentioned specifically in the study, but Campbellsville/Taylor County Economic Development Executive Director Ron McMahan says that doesn't mean the community didn't have a good year. He said he sees 2013 as a successful economic year for the community.

"I think 2013 is the biggest and best we've had since 2006," he said.

With several existing companies looking to expand this year, McMahan said he predicts this year will be another good one for Taylor County.

"I'm hoping and anticipating that it will be," he said.

The Kentucky chamber's study, done by Senior Economic Advisor Dr. Paul Coomes, analyzes data from fiscal reports and databases from 2007 to 2013.

In his report, Coomes researched wage and salary growth, job growth and the state of the housing market in Kentucky.

Coomes' report states that Hardin, Madison and Christian counties are the fastest growing in the state when it comes to wages and salaries.

His report concludes that job growth in the state is uneven. As a whole, the state is about 34,000 jobs below its peak in 2007.

The housing market in the state is stable, according to Coomes' report.

The complete report is posted at the bottom of this story.

Occupational tax records in Taylor County show that more taxes were paid last year than in year's past, which might indicate job growth.

In 2010, the county collected $2.9 million in occupational taxes. In 2011, the figure rose to nearly $3.5 million. In 2012, Taylor Countians who work in the community paid the county $3.3 million. Last year, they paid nearly $3.55 million.

According to City Clerk Cary Noe, the city's occupational tax when into effect in July 2009. For the 2009 to 2010 fiscal year, the city collected $1.3 million. In the 2010 to 2011 fiscal year, the figure rose to nearly $2 million.

In 2011 to 2012, the city received nearly $2.2 million. And last fiscal year, the city received just more than $2.2 million.

Taylor County Occupational Tax Clerk Sherry Kerr says the decrease in taxes paid to the county in 2012 reflects a period in which some jobs were lost at local manufacturers.

But last year, she said, the higher figure could show that local companies are adding jobs or expanding again after rebounding from the recession.

"It's just showing that we're steady, I guess," she said.

She said she doesn't believe that the increase in taxes her office collected last year is an indicator that wages are increasing in Taylor County. Employers today are very careful about who they hire, she said, and often use temp agencies to screen applicants. New hires typically start out at the low end of the company's pay scale and then, as time goes on, the employees begin to make more.

Kerr said she has heard of several communities in the state having to increase their occupational tax rates to balance their budgets. That hasn't been proposed here, she said.

"We're meeting our needs," she said. "We're very fortunate here in Taylor County."

McMahan said increased occupational tax figures can indicate job growth. He said Taylor County saw several new jobs last year when INFAC expanded and 10 more jobs will be created when Fluortubing USA expands this year.

"I think we moved forward with the INFAC expansion," he said.

And the expansion of Fluortubing, which was announced in December, tells him that more companies are making their products in the United States than importing them.

Carley Fudge, the county's building inspector, says he is seeing an increase in the amount of new homes built in Taylor County.

Building permits and inspections are required when homes and commercial buildings are built or renovations that cause a change in the use of a building are made inside the city limits. Permits and inspections aren't required for homes built outside the city limits, though Fudge said he strongly recommends them.

Fudge issues permits and then does inspections, he said, to ensure work is done correctly.

In 2011, he issued 40 building permits in Taylor County. In 2012, he issued 43. And last year, he issued 57.

Fudge said he is seeing the housing market pick up in Taylor County. He said many people today, who qualify for loans, are realizing that it can be more cost effective to buy a home than rent.

And Fudge said he is seeing several people renovating local space and opening new businesses. He spoke with a couple earlier this week about a new business they would like to open.

McMahan said the county's unemployment rate is staying steady, as is the Taylor County population.

He said INFAC moving to the Heartland Commerce and Technology Park - and being the first company locating there - has given the area much more traffic.

"Hopefully that trend will continue," he said, with the addition of some new and high-paying jobs this year.

McMahan said he gets calls on a weekly basis from business representatives wanting to learn about what Campbellsville has to offer.

economic_report.pdf2.57 MB