State

This project could create 350 jobs in one of the nation’s poorest counties

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A project to make camouflage netting for the U.S. Army could mean up to 350 jobs in McCreary County over the next decade, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced this week.

The Army has chosen Fibrotex USA to work with Outdoor Venture Corporation (OVC) in McCreary County to make the netting, Rogers said.

OVC, which has manufacturing facilities at Stearns, started in the early 1970s making camping tents but has added other products through the years and is a key supplier of modular tent systems and other products for the military.

Fibrotex plans to move into an apparel-making facility at Stearns that went out of business, and also to build a 50,000-square-foot building, J.C. Egnew, president of OVC, said in a news release from Rogers’ office.

The product the two companies plan to produce uses camouflage to protect troops, but also has features to thwart battlefield sensors such as night vision and thermal imaging, according to the news release.

“I take great pride in knowing that our people are using their talents to make products for our warfighters and our allied forces,” said Rogers, a Republican who represents the county.

Egnew said OVC and Fibrotext plan to start production next summer.

The project is welcome news in the county, where widespread federal ownership of land and less-favorable highway access than in other nearby towns add to difficulty in competing for large manufacturers.

“Every job that we can get is great,” said Judge-Executive Doug Stephens.

If the project creates 350 jobs, it would change the face of employment in the county. There were a total of 1,432 jobs in private industries in the county in 2017, according to the state Cabinet for Economic Development.

The cabinet listed OVC as the largest manufacturing employer, with 160 jobs.

Per capita market income in the county in 2016 was just $10,228, compared to $29,389 in Kentucky and $40,679 nationally, according to the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The commission ranked the county No. 3,110 out of 3,113 nationwide on an index of economic indicators.

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