In 1976 I graduated from Murray State University with a degree in Public Relations. My first position was in Public Affairs at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant operated by Union Carbide Corporation. When I arrived on the scene, many of the plant’s early hires were looking to soon retire after having worked at the uranium enrichment facility for nearly 25 years. They were typical “plant workers” who had grown up in a manufacturing environment with good wages and benefits and a future that was secure. Many believe that the days of large industrial complexes dropping into the western Kentucky landscape is slim. That’s not just the case here along the Ohio, it is being faced by cities and communities all around the U.S. We are certainly no different than many other small rural populations with similar characteristics.
But we are different in one respect, at least as I see it. We are infused with the enthusiasm of entrepreneurism. Paducah has long sustained a “can do” philosophy among its residents and its business leaders. Just this past holiday season, I had the pleasure of chatting with 94-year-old Beth DeVillez, owner/entrepreneur of Ground Floor Shoes on Broadway; a business that has been in operation for more than 40 years. And as I left the store, I walked past Simply B, one of the newer arrivals on the scene, as well as Hooper’s, one of the early risk-takers when the downtown retail environment was practically stagnant.
There is a new normal in view of “getting” a job as opposed to “creating” a career. In this edition of PADUCAH LIFE Magazine, you will meet just a sampling of local entrepreneurs who are thinking differently about the way they work. These ambitious, forward-thinkers are looking for purpose with a passion that drives their very existence. They’re evaluating their situations, honing their skill sets, or even discovering new potential previously unidentified. They are changing their futures while changing the face of the local economy.
LIFE is good in a place where creativity and innovation are nurtured and noted. We hope we’re doing our part in this special edition to introduce you to some notable entrepreneurs who are looking at LIFE with vision and verve.