Paducah marine industry grows larger

Paducah marine industry growing larger
By: Erica Byfield

PADUCAH, Ky. - Hunter Marine is ready to call Paducah its second home.
The barge company announced plans Thursday to expand crew and training operations in Paducah.
Right now, the company has four employees operating in a temporary facility.  This expansion could add at least 12 more.
Hunter Marine will build a $1.5 million operations center on Paducah's southside.
Mayor Bill Paxton said he's pleased with the plans and is already looking for more growth.
"You won't be disappointed, I predict over the next few years you'll expand the operation and it will be even better and bigger than it's going to be today," said Paxton.
Hunter Marine's corporate office is in Nashville.
Some people call Paducah the Mecca of the marine industry and with the latest announcement of Hunter Marine's expansion, it seems that way.
Everyday at noon you can find Philip Marino at the downtown near the water. 
"The water, it's too warm, they go deep they won't bite," Marino said. 
He stands at the foot of Broadway fishing and counts boats.
"Every three minutes, four minutes you see a boat, there's one that went by and there will be another one coming," said Marino.   
When he heard the latest news about the Hunter Marine expansion, Marino was not surprised.
"Look at the river, see the boats going up and down, they never stop," he said.  
In the last year, five major barge lines: Western Rivers, Crounse Corporation, James Marine, Ingram Barge and now Hunter Marine have built or expanded facilities along the Ohio river.  Why? The main reason is the Ohio, Mississippi, Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers.
"Paducah has all the support necessary to run a vessel operations and we run tow boats, barges and all of our boats run the Tennessee, Ohio and Cumberland Rivers.  They are here on a daily basis," said Glenn Hendon with Hunter Marine. 
"Location, location, location and there couldn't be a more ideal location for the marine industry than Paducah, Kentucky," said Paducah City Commissioner Robert Coleman.
Never mind the fact that most of the marine industry competitors already call Paducah home.
"All the river people are friends they are competition but they all seem friendly with each other," Hendon said. 

As for Philip Marino in downtown, he's still fishing with "no luck" and hoping since Paducah's a huge draw for marine companies, the next one that shows up brings along some "strippers, catfish or drum." 

Glenn Hendon added Hunter Marine had an office in Paducah up until the late 1980's and now wishes they'd never left.