Economic development officials in Murray say a newly completed 62,000 square foot spec building just north of town is garnering attention from prospective businesses.
Murray-Calloway Economic Development Corporation chair Ken Winters said in an open house on Friday afternoon the building sets the pace in demonstrating the kind of businesses Murray is seeking. "This building is the vehicle through with all of these other contacts are coming," he said, referring to the announcement this month that South Korean automotive parts manufacturer DAE-IL plans to locate in a larger, adjacent space.
The building, called Murray-West Spec Building #1 is located in the Murray-West Industrial Park on U.S. Hwy 641. The space currently has a finished office space, a restroom, open office area and a large manufacturing area. The space can be reconfigured based on a company's specific needs.
For now, it also serves as a marketing tool to put Murray 'on the map' for businesses interested in locating in west Kentucky. President Mark Manning said MCEDC began recruiting overseas a few years ago because domestic companies weren't expanding during the recession. He said he found that building standards are different overseas and that for the first time in several decades there wasn't an available manufacturing facility in Murray. He and the board agreed to take a risk and be "a little riverboat gambler" in building something nicer than a simple metal building.
"I can tell you without any hesitation that I have more prospect activity, more interest, more contacts in Murray, Kentucky, than I've ever had anywhere in my career and I've been doing this for a long time," Manning said. He said the space is garnering attention from the state economic development cabinet, the Tennessee Valley Authority and site location consultants across the country. "Everybody knows about this building," he said.
He noted it could take some time before the 'right client' is in the building. "We're not going to put just anybody in this building. If it's not something that raises the bar, if it's not something that's high quality, if it's not the kind of company that can partner with our engineering and technology folks at Murray State for advanced manufacturing... we're going to keep the bar high."
Murray State University President Bob Davies said the university is eager to partner with the company that ends up moving into the space through internships and continual training opportunities for workers.
Manning said, "Our goal, our mission, our passion is to provide opportunities for people to have a living wage and the dignity of work," He added, "Murray is the easiest place in the world to sell once you get someone here to look."