Featured News Archives for 2015-05

R.E. Allen holds the key to the city of Kenton, one of the many honors the former Kenton businessman was presented during a reception Monday evening at Kenton High School.

R.E. Allen made just 97 cents in his first year as a salesman and his wife wouldn’t let him quit.

A few businesses later, his perseverance paid off when he created Imperial Cup (now International Paper) in Kenton, which became the world’s largest producer of vending cups. When he sold the business in 1989 to Federal Paper Board for $100 million, he shared some of that with his employees, most of whom received $25,000 payments.

He then donated $1 million to create the R.E. and Joan Allen Scholarship Foundation to benefit Kenton High School graduates and those of his former cup company employees.

For all of his accomplishments, Allen was named the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance. The award was presented at an annual reception for Allen on Monday night at Kenton High School, during which he met with past scholarship recipients.

Jon Cross, president and CEO of the Alliance, said the award saluted Allen’s “entrepreneurial spirit” and the “generational impact” Imperial Cup had on the growth and success of the Kenton community. The award also recognized Allen’s financial commitment to students through his scholarship fund. “I don’t think we can thank you enough for all you’ve done,” Cross said.

He noted the award now will be named the Richard E. Allen Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance.

Allen also received proclamations from Kenton Mayor Randy Manns and the Hardin County commissioners, as well as a key to the city from Manns.

Allen expressed appreciation for the awards, but also joked about his longevity: “Just go to work every day and 95 years later you wind up being 95.” His success in the wholesale candy business – which started by selling candy from the removed back seat of a 10-year-old Buick – led him into the vending machine business. Problems with cups used in the vending business motivated Allen to get his own cup-making machine. He sold the excess cups to other vendors, which led to more machines and the creation of Imperial Cup. “It just turned into a real business,” he said. Allen said his cups were a hit because “we handled them like eggs.”

The Allen scholarship foundation has been just as successful. Awards being presented this year to graduates, as well as renewals, will total $64,000. That means the foundation will have awarded more than $2.3 million in scholarships, said Edison Klingler, a member of the foundation’s board.

The Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance will be welcoming a representative of a national site selection firm in the upcoming days.

The Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance will be welcoming a representative of a national site selection firm in the upcoming days.

Site selection firms typically come into communities unannounced to scout prospective development sites. But Jon Cross, president and CEO of the Alliance, told Kenton City Council Monday night that the site selector’s visit is being arranged through American Electric Power and this will be a learning opportunity for local officials. “We’re going to learn what we have and how we can improve things,” Cross said. He said site selectors “are basically site eliminators.” A community has to hit on 90 percent of a list of factors to be considered by a potential developer.

Cross said the site selector will view development-ready sites in Kenton and Ada, with discussions about Forest as well. He said 85 percent of industrial development deals start with having an existing building – something the county lacks. “We have zero modern industrial buildings ready,” Cross said.

He said the county needs to find investors and developers willing to construct a building of 100,000 square feet with 28 feet clear height, with land available to expand. While being “vertically challenged,” Cross said on the positive side that 90 percent of all real estate deals for new developments happen in rural America.

Cross, who was delivering an overdue quarterly update to council, also reported on working with Kenton City Schools

on the marketing of the district’s former Hardin Central and Espy sites. “We will talk to the school board about how to move forward,” he said. “Clearly we are trying to encourage the right type of development for the sites.”

Cross said the goal is to do what’s best for the school district and the city. He said Alliance officials have been talking to commercial brokers about the sites. “We believe they are the best sites for development in Kenton, in addition to Morningside Drive,” Cross said.

He also briefed council on the “Eats on the Street” event set for Friday, June 26 from 5 to 10 p.m. on Kenton’s downtown square. Six food trucks from Columbus will feature their offerings. There also will be a vintage motorcycles and classic cars show, a beer tent and live music. Cross said he is hoping the event will draw people to Kenton from throughout the area.