By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
The performance of the man who works for the Corbin Industrial Development Commission — Economic Development Director Bruce Carpenter — was discussed in an executive session last week by the CIDC board. No action was taken by board members.
The session came during the CIDC’s monthly meeting last Tuesday morning.
“We talked about the Executive Director, what was being said and what was being heard. No action was taken. We think he’s doing a good job, most of us do. We’ve never been questioned,” said CIDC Chairman Ron Herd in an interview Monday.
Media reports last week said Carpenter’s job may be in jeopardy, due to recent criticism by some officials in government and industry.
Herd pointed out most of the recent brouhaha over Carpenter seems to have happened during a Corbin City Commission meeting in August, when he was asked by the commission to help cover the cost of overtime paid to city workers during the NIBROC festival. Carpenter rejected the idea, and when the city asked for a detailed profit-and-loss statement on NIBROC, the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce provided the statement to the city on Sept. 25.
“The best I could tell is that it all started after Bruce went to the Commission meeting. There were some people upset. … Some of us on the CIDC are going to talk to the City Commission and see if everything can be worked out,” Herd said.
The Chamber — a private, non-profit organization — plans and funds NIBROC.
Carpenter, who has held the position since 2006, stated in an interview Tuesday that he was not aware of any reports of dissatisfaction with his job, and felt he had the support of the CIDC.
“After the executive session, no action was taken, and really, there was no discussion with me about my job performance. I’ve always thought I’ve had the support of all the boards, and there’s never been anything come up with the (CIDC) board since I’ve been in the position,” said Carpenter.
The one-page statement to the City Commission showed this year’s NIBROC having total revenue of $158,1110.20, with total expenses of $153,285.50 — a total net income of $4,824.70. A letter from Chamber of Commerce President Rebecca Myers attached to the statement said proceeds from NIBROC are used “to partially fund our education and marketing programs.”
Carpenter defended his work as NIBROC’s entertainment director, saying the festival brings a lot of people into Corbin, which includes people from several surrounding states.
He added he wanted to make the 2012 version of NIBROC special, because of the festival’s 60th Anniversary this year.
“We first asked the Corbin Tourism Commission for a $25,000 donation in February, which has been done for several years. That goes to lighting, stage, sound and production for the musical shows. It was approved, and it was budgeted by Tourism for the Chamber.”
Carpenter said the funding for NIBROC entertainment has always been raised through corporate sponsorship.
On July 9, he asked the Tourism Commission for a second donation of $25,000.
“That was because we wanted to do a bigger national name act for NIBROC’s 60th Anniversary. Tourism approved it.”
The next day, Carpenter announced the 70’s and 80’s rock group “Styx” would be the headliners for NIBROC this year. Other acts playing downtown included a band featuring Mickey Rivera, former lead singer and drummer for “Rare Earth”, “Starship, featuring Mickey Thomas” and singer Elvin Bishop, and country singer T. Graham Brown.
The total cost for the bands to come to NIBROC came to $85,700. Carpenter said there are other logistics that have to be worked out for the festival’s entertainment, such as music licensing fees, transportation, meals, lodging and video displays.
“You’re talking about three nights of entertainment, and Styx brought a lot of their own production staff. But we still have additional costs involved with what group you have. And in some cases, the bigger the act, there could be more requirements,” he noted.
Carpenter also pointed to his work on helping to initiate and coordinate the movement to get package alcohol sales in Corbin, with support of both CIDC and Chamber boards. He said the Work Ethic Seal program, which works to improve the career readiness and work ethics of students in the Corbin and Whitley County school districts, is now in its third year. And the Southeast KY Regional Training Consortium recently received a matching grant of $75,000 for the last four years. The Consortium includes 13 companies in five counties.