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Propulysys CEO thanks school board for educational improvements;

Gov. Steve Beshear announces the $9.5 million expansion at Propulsys headquarters on Tuesday afternoon. The expansion will be used for technological advances at the locally based business and help the Hopkinsville plant retain its 207 workers.Gov. Steve Beshear announces the $9.5 million expansion at Propulsys headquarters on Tuesday afternoon. The expansion will be used for technological advances at the locally based business and help the Hopkinsville plant retain its 207 workers.Gov. Steve Beshear visited Propulsys headquarters Tuesday afternoon to announce a $9.5 million expansion for “next-generation” upgrades to the multi-national Hopkinsville plant.

In addition to developing several new technologies, the investment would call for new employees with new skills, said Propulsys CEO and President Rich Maddux. Maddux then congratulated the local school board for improvements in education and said he hoped Beshear would continue to put education first. Local Superintendent Brady Link and Board of Education Chairman Barry Cornelius were also in attendance and sat on stage with the heads of Propulsys, Beshear and local officials.

Bill Nichol, board chairman at Propulsys, said the investment was a “very special event in the life of our company,” and thanked a number of local officials and businesses for their support. With the expansion, Propulsys will be able “to compete globally,” Beshear said.

Propulsys, founded as White Hydraulics Inc. in 1977, is one of the largest manufacturers of high-speed, low-torque motors. It has offices in Europe and an additional plant in China. Overall, the company employs 520 people worldwide with 207 workers in Hopkinsville. The expansion is essential to local families since it allows those 207 employees to retain their jobs, Beshear said.

Impressed with the success of the Hopkinsville plant, Maddux said the local investment would help the company evolve even more.

Every five years, Propulsys undertakes a strategic planning session. The expansion was part of the strategy plan to hit a larger market share and increase product potential, Maddux said.

Mayor Dan Kemp also spoke during the event and said the investment would create a “better product” that would be “more competitive on a worldwide basis.”

Other speakers at the event were Judge-Executive Steve Tribble and Eston Glover, chair of the Economic Development Council.

Propulsys will also receive a tax incentive of $3 million from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority through the Kentucky Reinvestment Act, which helps Kentucky companies make “significant capital investments” to facilities, according to a Beshear press release.

Near the end of the announcement, Beshear awarded the company’s founder, Hollis White, and his wife, Louis, the titles of Kentucky Colonel. It is considered the highest title of honor in Kentucky and can only be awarded by the governor.

More awards were given out when Kemp handed Maddux a pendulum clock representing the past and the future of Propulsys in Hopkinsville. Maddux then presented Beshear with the framed signatures of Propulsys employees showing “how much the commonwealth means to the business,” Maddux said.

By Benjamin Joubert
Kentucky New Era Staff

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 25, 2011 – American Electric Power’s (NYSE: AEP) Board of Directors has elected Nicholas K. Akins chief executive officer, effective Nov. 12. Akins, who will retain the position of president he has held since Jan. 1, will replace Michael G. Morris when Morris retires as CEO Nov. 11. Akins, 51, has also been elected to AEP’s Board of Directors.

Morris, who will be 65 on Nov. 11, will continue as executive chairman of AEP’s Board of Directors through Dec. 31, then serve as non-executive chairman of the board. Morris joined the company Jan. 1, 2004, as chairman, president and CEO. Carl English will retire as vice chairman, effective Dec. 31.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to help continue the extraordinary legacy of AEP,” Akins said. “This company has had more than a century of strong financial performance, engineering and operational excellence and public policy leadership. I look forward to working with our talented management team as we build on these characteristics to continue to provide quality service to our customers and an attractive return to our investors.”

“Nick will be an excellent leader for AEP,” Morris said. “I’ve had that honor for the last eight years as our company, our industry and our nation have faced challenges ranging from economic to national public policy to technology. From a company perspective, we have worked to address each challenge in a way that best benefits our customers and our shareholders. But our nation faces difficult decisions on its energy future, decisions that will have a significant impact on our company and industry. Nick is the right person to lead AEP to continued success in this ever-changing environment.”

Prior to being elected president, Akins served as executive vice president – generation for AEP, responsible for all generation activities of AEP’s approximately 38,000 megawatts of generation resources. This included the engineering, construction and operations of fossil and hydro generation, nuclear generation, fuels procurement, emissions and logistics, and other resource initiatives such as new generation, environmental retrofits, and carbon capture and storage. Akins also was responsible for the commercial operations, marketing and trading functions of the company.

Previously, he was president and chief operating officer for Southwestern Electric Power Company, an AEP utility serving approximately 439,000 customers in Louisiana, Arkansas and northeast Texas. Named to this position in 2004, he had authority for distribution operations and a wide range of customer and regulatory relationships.

Prior to this, Akins was vice president – energy marketing services, responsible for directing the activities of Market Development, including the transmission marketing and services functions, and Energy Delivery External Affairs including community affairs, economic development, and advocacy for regulatory and legislative positions within Energy Delivery. Akins also was vice president – industry restructuring for AEP, responsible for enterprise-wide program management for restructuring initiatives in preparation for customer choice in AEP’s various jurisdictions.

Before Central and South West Corp.’s (CSW) merger with AEP, he served in various director and manager roles within CSW and its operating companies involving mergers and acquisitions, industry restructuring, fuels, system dispatch operations and system planning.

Akins received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1982 from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston and a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1986 also from Louisiana Tech. He has completed executive management programs at Louisiana State University, the University of Idaho and the Reactor Technology Course for Utility Executives at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Akins is a registered professional engineer in Texas. He currently serves as vice chairman of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and on the boards of the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the Wexner Center for the Arts and the National Association of Manufacturers.

SEKC Work Ethic Award – On September 26, I presented this program to the Lawrence County High School senior class.  This program allows seniors to achieve an award and submit an essay for a potential $500 cash scholarship.  (If your business is interested in possibly sponsoring a cash scholarship of any amount to guarantee a Lawrence County winner please give me a call for more information.)

SEKC Education Foundation – Grant applications were sent to Lawrence County Schools as they are eligible to compete for 1 of 5 $1,250 grants to be given away by the chamber this winter.

Christmas Buy Local Campaign – Beginning in November the chamber will be conducting a region wide campaign urging our residents to shop their county first for their holiday shopping and directing them to our website and membership directory.  Building value in our local economies by educating our communities on the benefits of spending their money locally.

Upcoming Events:

November 4th @ 3-5 p.m.  – Business After Hours with Elite Chiropractic in plaza beside Food City.  All members are invited for an afternoon of food and networking.  Help in welcoming a new chamber member and community member Dr. George Mckay.  Also, feel free to invite any non-members who are interested in membership!

November 17th @ 7 p.m. – Regional Energy Summit with Keynote Speaker Dr. Patrick Michaels.  Follow the link to register for this event.

I also want to invite any member who would be interested in hosting a Business After Hours to let me know and we will get you on the schedule.

Your Lawrence County Committee (Aaron Sink, Joyce Burton, Greg Kiser, Violet Trout, and Carl Gullick) and I are working diligently on plans for the upcoming year. Keep your eye out for your schedule of events starting in January 2012, including Business Seminars, Legislative Luncheons, and an Annual Banquet. Hope everyone has a great day!

Jared Arnett, MBA | Vice President - Chamber Operations
Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
787 Hambley Boulevard | Pikeville, KY  41501

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