Pond River Enterprises LLC, a western Kentucky-based company, plans to open a distillery in Muhlenberg County’s historic Graham School, Gov. Steve Beshear announced.
The nearly $1.3 million investment will create 31 jobs.
“I applaud company leaders like those at Pond River Enterprises who recognize the importance of hometowns and giving back to their communities,” said Gov. Beshear. “Not only will the location of the company rejuvenate a place rich with history, it will also attract visitors to the community as one of the next additions to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.”
Pond River Enterprises will initially provide products for the growing unaged spirits market – “moonshine” – then expand into bourbon. The company plans to open its operation in Graham School, which served as a high school from 1933 to 1990 and as an elementary school until closing in 2004.
One of the owners, Thomas Bard, attended the school, as did three generations of his family. Bard and his partner, Kim Crosby, hope to breathe new life into the facility, restoring the community’s sense of pride in the building and its deep roots in the county. Pond River Enterprises aims to begin distillation by November 2016 and expects to open to visitors by January 2017.
“Tom and I are looking forward to this project for many reasons. The first being our love for the area and its unique history,” said Crosby. “Bringing much-needed jobs to the community, as well as our plan to create a destination for both local residents and tourists, is the driving force behind this endeavor.”
Aside from personal ties, the company chose Graham for its location near the Western Kentucky Parkway, Pennyrile Parkway and the Interstate 69 corridor. The location also offers a western Kentucky option along the growing Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.
Since January 2014, Kentucky brewers and distillers have announced 34 new location or expansion projects totaling nearly $581 million in investment and 551 new jobs.
“We are pleased to welcome this new investment from Pond River Enterprises,” said Sen. C.B. Embry, of Morgantown. “The estimated 31 new jobs the company will look to bring to our community will be wonderful opportunities for our citizens and for economic growth of the region. We thank all those who worked hard on this project.”
“The bourbon industry’s phenomenal growth shows no signs of slowing down, and it’s due in no small part to the drive and determination of people like those behind Pond River Enterprises,” said Rep. Brent Yonts, of Greenville. “I’m happy to see it take this step and bring new life to an old school. I want to thank our local and state leaders for working with the company to help make this possible.”
“I am very pleased that Pond River Enterprises LLC is investing almost $1.3 million in a project that will not only help revitalize a key historic school building, but will result in needed employment in Muhlenberg County, along with the creation of new tourism opportunities bringing additional dollars into the county,” said Rick Newman, Muhlenberg County judge-executive.
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $225,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
In addition, Pond River Enterprises is eligible to receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies are eligible to receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. Last year, the Kentucky Skills Network trained more than 84,000 employees from more than 5,600 Kentucky companies.
A detailed community profile for Muhlenberg County can be viewed here.
Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Watch the Cabinet’s “This is My Kentucky” video on YouTube.