This article was published in the print edition of the Paducah Sun.

By David Zoeller

The lead contractor for the cleanup of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant site is taking a leadership role in a major project aimed at moving the community forward.

Fluor Federal Services, known on site as the Fluor Paducah Deactivation Project, is sponsoring Forward Paducah, the six-month strategic planning process initiated in September by Paducah Economic Development. The process is aimed at assessing the area’s strengths and challenges as well as targeting industries to help grow the local economy.

“Fluor is a huge supporter of the community,” said Scott Darnell, PED president/CEO, noting DOE and its contractors currently employ nearly 1,600 people at the site.

Forward Paducah is being directed by Avalanche Consulting, which specializes in economic development strategies.

“We’re thrilled that Fluor has volunteered to sponsor this,” said Amy Holloway, Avalanche president/CEO. “They’re a major employer in the region and plan to be in Paducah a very long time. It’s nice to see them invest in the future of the community.”

Fluor, and its teaming partners at the site, value the community’s desire to stimulate economic development, according to Cory Hicks, Fluor public affairs spokesman. “We look forward to volunteering our expertise and connections to ensure that Forward Paducah is a success,” he said.

A survey was launched several weeks ago to gather input from the community. The survey is available online at: According to Holloway, more than 200 responses have been received, and the survey will be available through Friday.

“We want to hear from everybody,” Holloway said. “We’re happy with over 200 responses, but we’re always interested in having more people participate. We want all perspectives represented, especially people who haven’t been involved in the day-to-day workings of economic development and will benefit from the job opportunities that will be created.”

While the survey results haven’t been fully analyzed yet, Holloway said some of the responses she has seen indicate the community is interested in further developing cooperation among various sectors.

“People are looking for the strategy (being developed) to bring people together,” she said.

Communities need defined strategies to put their limited resources to the best use for economic development, according to Holloway.

“We look at a variety of things,” she said. “We might focus on a select few (industries) in terms of who we market to. What are we going to do to grow in the future? Who are we going to target for Paducah to bring higher wage jobs into the community?”

Holloway will be back in Paducah in early December to conduct more interviews and present the survey results.

“It (Forward Paducah) is off to a great start,” Holloway said. “Everything is on time and on track. We’ll also start looking into recommendations, and the next phase is writing the strategy.”