McCracken County, Paducah Leaders Stress Unity At Chamber Breakfast
McCracken County and Paducah leaders presented their vision for the community Thursday at a Chamber of Commerce event.
The “Power in Partnership” breakfast in downtown Paducah saw county Judge/Executive Craig Clymer and Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless tout unity as key to accomplishments ranging from economic development to construction projects.
Clymer is beginning his second year as county judge/executive while Harless is starting her fourth year as Paducah’s mayor. She said the two have developed a strong working relationship over the last year, including weekly meetings to brainstorm and confer on city and county issues.
“Every Monday morning if both of us are in town, for an hour and a half, we get together and talk about the state of the city and county. And we talk about how we can work together,” Harless said.
Clymer previously served as a Circuit Court Judge in McCracken County before winning election to his current post in 2018. He said his first year was a huge learning curve.
“It’s a difficult job,” Clymer said. “There’s so many different regulations, laws, ordinances, and things to deal with in local government that I had no exposure to.”
Harless said she is working to make Paducah an easier place to start or grow a business. She said many community members told her during her 2016 mayoral campaign Paducah’s government makes it difficult to do business. To combat that, she said she instituted bi-weekly “kickstart meetings.”
“Every other Wednesday, our entire team gets together with anyone who is doing a potential development or potential project and sits down with them to hear what their plans are,” she said.
Harless also said the city has partnered with the Paducah Chamber of Commerce and the Paducah Economic Development Agency to produce a small business resource guide. In the city’s Inspections Department, inspectors now wear body cameras during their work. Harless said the additional accountability helps city leaders to better understand interactions with customers.
Airport Terminal Construction
Both Clymer and Harless said the proposed construction project at Barkley Regional Airport is a top priority for the year. Leaders are seeking funding to construct a new terminal at the airport to replace the existing structure, which Clymer said is nearly 70 years old. He said the new terminal is important for creating a good first impression of McCracken County.
“For people who are maybe thinking of starting a business or just setting down roots as a family here in our community, the airport may be the first thing they see. It gives a great first impression if you have a solid, working, attractive airport terminal,” Clymer said.
Clymer said local leaders are working closely with state and federal officials to finance the project. He specifically said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Congressman James Comer have expressed their support for the new terminal. The Paducah Chamber of Commerce in December also made the new terminal their top priority in this year’s state general assembly.
Harless said her staff is working to cultivate relationships with citizens from each of Paducah’s neighborhoods. She said she completed 23 “neighborhood walks” that covered 31 of the city’s neighborhoods. The city is creating a profile of each neighborhood.
“One of the things that I hope this initiative really helps accomplish is empowering neighborhoods to take ownership,” Harless said.
She said that ownership will hopefully include increased civic engagement and participation in City Commission meetings.
Indoor Recreation Facility
WKMS previously reported Paducah’s Board of Commissioners approved a services agreement for the construction of an indoor recreation facility and sportsplex in Bob Noble Park. Harless said construction on that project is set to begin later this year. She said the city sold bonds for the project this week after receiving seven bids. She also said a strong city-county relationship helped to move this project along.
“We worked very closely with the county this year to figure out how we can accomplish those big sports and recreation goals,” Harless said.
Clymer said sports tourism has very ripe potential for the city, and he hopes the facility will bring more people to the community.