One East Kentucky Launches FDI Program for Nine-County Region

One East Kentucky Launches FDI Program for Nine-County Region Main Photo

31 Oct 2019

East Kentucky’s premier foreign direct investment initiative awarded Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot funding

PAINTSVILLE, Ky. - Dubbed the International Landing Zone, One East Kentucky’s newest strategic industry recruitment initiative for the nine-county region will be a co-working manufacturing space for foreign companies interested in making a low-risk entry into the U.S. market.

The ILZ’s first-in-the-nation model offers shared, mixed-use space that will allow companies a cost-effective way to begin their U.S. operations and build a book of business with a far smaller investment than opening a new facility.

The ILZ will be located in the former Logan Corp. facility at the East Kentucky Business Park in Debord, Ky. Funding received through the Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot will be used to up-fit 27,000 square-feet of manufacturing space for multi-tenant use. One East leaders expect work to begin by July 2020 and the ILZ could welcome tenants as early as January 2021.

“The ILZ concept promises to seed manufacturing operations and jobs in communities throughout the One East region,” said Erran Persley, business development commissioner at the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. “We know that about two-thirds of the new jobs and corporate investments announced each year come from companies that already operate Kentucky facilities. So the goal and challenge has always been to land more companies and grow them over time. The ILZ will help do just that. With its novel approach, it will help attract more new companies to Kentucky and provide them resources that put those manufacturers on a path toward long-term success.”

The International Landing Zone co-working manufacturing space concept emerged as a result of One East Kentucky’s industry recruitment activities throughout Canada and Europe. On those missions, One East learned many target companies have small contracts in the U.S. and need an efficient, low risk, cost effective space with a 10-to-20 employee labor force to start their U.S. operations.

“The smaller operations targeted for the International Landing Zone are not usually considered for traditional state or local incentives,” said Chuck Sexton president and CEO of One East Kentucky. “The International Landing Zone will offer its own incentives tailored to the specific needs of a company.

Incentives available for companies interested in locating in the ILZ could be as simple as free or reduced rent throughout their tenure in the facility. Other ILZ perks include short-term lease agreements; shared operational and/or administrative support; networking opportunities; office space and equipment; and site selection support led by One East Kentucky.

“The International Landing Zone and the work One East Kentucky is doing to recruit new jobs and investment to our region is unprecedented,” said Jim Booth, chairman of the Big Sandy Regional Industrial Development Authority. “We are grateful for One East’s efforts to improve our economy and the partnership we have with them to help locate companies at the regional East Kentucky Business Park, which serves to benefit Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, Martin and Pike counties in the Big Sandy District.”

In 2018, One East contracted with Boyette Strategic Advisors to conduct a feasibility study for the ILZ, which concluded that there were no other models like the ILZ in the U.S.

“The facility will be white boxed so companies can drop in equipment, hire and train their employees, and get to work manufacturing and supplying their U.S. customers as quickly as possible,” said Sexton. “East Kentucky is fortunate to have great assets, like the Logan building, that can easily be transitioned and re-used to continue to create new jobs and investment opportunities for the region.”

The 180-acre East Kentucky Business Park is strategically located within a 150,000-person labor shed, which includes over 13,000 high-skilled people actively seeking employment. The Park is adjacent to the Big Sandy Regional Airport’s 5,500-foot runway and minutes from both four-lane highway and rail access. The One East Kentucky region is within a day’s truck drive of 60 percent of the U.S. manufacturing base.

“Working with One East Kentucky, we had the opportunity to talk with a number of Canadian manufacturers that may be potential tenants for this type of facility,” said Del Boyette, president and CEO of Boyette Strategic Advisors. “Their encouragement, combined with additional research about future FDI opportunities for east Kentucky, led us to conclude that the International Landing Zone could be a potential game changer for this region.”  

The ILZ is an important component of two other AML-supported projects. The EKY BUILDS Pinnacle Park program, which will help ensure the perpetuity of world-class real estate options available to companies throughout the region and eKAMI (East Kentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute), part of the global network of Haas CNC Now Technical Education Centers, which focuses on certifying the highly-skilled former coal workforce sought after by target manufacturers who may locate in the ILZ.

“We are very pleased to support the International Landing Zone and its potential to create a sustainable network of jobs for this important region,” said Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely. “Now in its fourth year, the AML Pilot program has funneled $105 million in program funds for economic development in eastern Kentucky.”

For more information about the East Kentucky Business Park, the International Landing Zone or EKY BUILDS, please contact One East Kentucky president and CEO Chuck Sexton at or 606-886-7333.

About One East Kentucky:

Established in 2015 as east Kentucky’s Center of Economic Development Excellence, One East Kentucky is a 501(c)3 regional economic development organization responsible for spearheading the growth and diversification of eastern Kentucky’s economic base through recruiting new industry, jobs and investment to the heart of Appalachia. Since 2016, One East Kentucky has announced over 1,000 new jobs and $154.6 million in capital investment. For more information about One East Kentucky, the nine-county region, industrial properties, workforce development, incentives or other economic development resources, visit Follow One East Kentucky at, on Twitter @OneEastKY and LinkedIn


Ivy Stanley, Project Manager