The Wayne County Outlook

Local News

September 21, 2010

One million dollar grant awarded for houseboat manufacturing transition

9-22-10 —     With closed and empty houseboat manufacturing facilities located  throughout this region, Friday's announcement of $1 million in grant  funds to help companies with the transition to include manufactured  homes is good news. U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers made the official  announcement regarding the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)   

grant award.

    The funding, which will be matched at 50 percent by local sources,  will be used to support the Kentucky Highlands Investment Cor-poration's (KHIC) House-boat to Energy Efficient Residences (HBEER)  

initiative. This initiative will provide low-interest loans,  

technical assistance, and financial support to assist area houseboat  manufacturers in expanding product lines to include innovative,  energy-efficient homes. This effort will create or save an estimated  

30 to 40 jobs throughout the region.

    "Lake Cumberland is known as the houseboat capital of the world, but  recent economic events have caused this critical industry to struggle  

and job opportunities to suffer," said Rogers. "This forward-leaning  initiative by Kentucky Highlands is great news for our houseboat  manufacturers and will help these vital employers transition to  expanding markets while keeping factory doors open. With these  

transition funds to design and build environmentally sound, energy  efficient homes, ARC and Kentucky Highlands continue to lead the way  forward."

    In response to the impacts of the Lake Cumberland pool reduction and  recent economic downturns, KHIC has partnered with the University of  Kentucky (UK) on HBEER. Several houseboat manufacturing facilities in  

the region have severely slowed or ceased operations. With UK  architects, engineers, and experts providing technical know how,  HBEER aims to produce energy-efficient, low-income housing units by  refitting local houseboat factories and restarting production lines  

while utilizing the existing, skilled workforce. Ultimately, the  

project seeks to produce energy-efficient housing and replace homes  with high energy costs throughout the Commonwealth.     

    "We are excited that this has been funded," said Wayne County Judge-Executive Greg Rankin. "We think that down the road this could create  

jobs locally and it will help (houseboat manufacturers) find a new  market...They have the facilities and the people who can do the work.  

If we can help them find the market, then we are all for it."

 

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