Fluor awards $50,000 to Rural King

Fluor-B&W Portsmouth has given a $50,000 grant to Rural King. Last summer Fluor was approached about an unnamed business, code-named “Project Helicopter,” wanting to purchase part of the former Masco cabinet plant and create more than 100 jobs.

Fluor-B&W officials said they were immediately interested in the request, which came from Pike County officials along with the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG), Jobs Ohio and the Joint Economic Development Initiative of Southern Ohio (JEDISO).

Project Helicopter became a reality last October when Ohio Governor John Kasich and local business leaders welcomed Rural King to Pike County. On Thursday, April 30 representatives from Fluor-B&W and economic development directors from Pike, Scioto, Jackson and Ross counties presented Rural King CEO Alex Melvin a check for $50,000, which was provided from the Fluor-B&W Opportunity Fund.

That investment along with other economic incentives including a $50,000 grant from the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI), have been combined with a $12.5 million development commitment by Rural King to create more than 150 jobs and become a high-tech distribution warehouse that will serve 34 stores in the region.

Fluor-B&W is the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) contractor for the decontamination and decommissioning of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon. Part of the company’s mission is a commitment to improving economic growth and stability of southern Ohio by reinvesting in emerging businesses in the communities surrounding the Cold War era plant.

“Fluor-B&W recognizes what good jobs mean to this community,” Fred Hughes, Fluor-B&W deputy director, who also chairs the Fluor-B&W Community Commitment Fund Steering Committee, said. “We are proud to serve the Department of Energy in its cleanup mission at the site, but equally glad to partner with area business to create good jobs and a quality of life that are sustainable for this generation and beyond.”

Hughes said through a partnership with the local communities, Fluor-B&W supports grant requests from Pike, Ross, Scioto and Jackson counties looking to grow their businesses and add quality jobs to this region. Each year Fluor-B&W invests more than $500,000 locally while the company’s employees give an additional $150,000 to community support organizations like the United Way.

“Landing not only the Rural King store, but one of their main distribution centers is a tremendous win for not only Pike County but the entire region,” Pike County Economic Development Director Gary Arnett said. “The support we received from APEG, JEDISO members from all four counties and of course Community Commitment funds from Fluor-B&W really helped bring this project to southern Ohio.”

The Rural King Distribution Center is in the largest warehouse on the expansive property off West Second Street in Waverly. Since last fall Rural King has been working to get the 450,000 sq. ft. facility that will supply nearly half of their 80 stores in the region.

When the facility is ready for operation on May 18 it will have about 100 operators. Nearly 100 trucks a day will bring in merchandise that accounts for nearly 80 percent of what you see on the store shelves. The Waverly Rural King store is on the same property as the warehouse and employs about 50 people.

“The reception we’ve received from the city, county and public has been outstanding,” Melvin said. “We have been warmly welcomed. Our job fair attracted 1,200 applicants. My only disappointment at this point is we weren’t able to hire more people at this time.”

Melvin is optimistic about plans to expand the distribution center and workforce once the center is fully on-line June 1. Quality personnel, good warehouse design and automation will make this one of the most efficient distribution centers of this type in the area.

From Portsmouth Daily Times  |  May 6, 2015