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Paducah Barge receives $700K Maritime grant

Editor's note: Congratulations to Innovation Hub/PATC business partner Paducah Barge. Paducah Barge was the recipient of a $700,750 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD). The Small Shipyard grant program supports employee training and related improvements.
by David Zoeller
The Paducah Sun
June 20, 2019
Used with permission.
Word that Paducah Barge was the recipient of a $700,570 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD) helped get owners Mike and Laura Taylor's vacation off to a great start.

"We got the good news as we were headed out," Mike Taylor said Wednesday, from Florida. "It makes for an even better vacation."

Paducah Barge is one of 28 recipients of a U.S. marine industry-related grant announced Monday as part of the overall $19.6 million Small Shipyard Grant program. The funding supports employee training and related improvements.

"These grants help create jobs in America's small shipyards, which play a significant role in our country's maritime sector," U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in Monday's announcement.

According to MARAD, small shipyards play a critical role in contributing to the nation's economy. Supporting more than 400,000 jobs, they create employment opportunities for working families and small communities.

Paducah Barge plans to use the grant funds to build a new dry dock to replace its current, aging one, and expand its welding internship program with area high schools through the Paducah Area Technology Center.

"We've got a partnership with them where we buy steel and rods and machines for those folks (students) to train on during the school year, and at the end of the school year we hire some juniors that are going to be coming back for their senior year in the welding program," Taylor said.

"We hire them for a summer internship out of the yard and we do hands-on training. They help us and we help them with a paycheck and experience," he said. 

"This dry dock is actually going to be very instrumental in allowing us to do more things with those guys in that program, and it's also going to allow Paducah Barge to continue growing its business as well."

According to Taylor, the company tries to give back to the community in a variety of ways.

"We're heavily involved with the River Discovery Center and Market House Theatre, and this (grant) is going to enable us to do more of the things that we like to do locally, along with continuing our education programs with the schools. We're already thinking about how we can take this and 'pay it forward,'" he said.

"Most importantly, it's going to keep a lot of guys employed in and around the Paducah area because the builder we are going to select is local. The grant money will not only be spent to build the dock, it's also going to create a dock that's going to stay right here. So, it's a great thing for Paducah."

In addition, the marine industry will benefit from Paducah Barge being able to expand its services, according to Taylor.

"Our yard is at mile 43 on the Cumberland River," he said. "This will be the only dry dock (on the Cumberland). All of those quarries up on the Cumberland that are based out of Paducah, they now have easier access to barge repair.

"All of the traffic going from Paducah to Nashville now will have the ability to be serviced there as well."

Taylor said he is encouraged that many of the grant recipients are located on the inland waterways system.

"The (U.S.) Department of Transportation, as our population grows, is steadily looking at opportunities to transport goods and the rivers are first in line," he said. "We can move it faster and cheaper because of the size and quantity of what we are able to move.

"The DOT is really focusing on that and they're trying to get dollars and resources to the industry," he said. "And (because of Paducah's location in the inland waterways), as the river industry grows, so will the importance of Paducah."

Posted Thursday, June 20, 2019