A Feel Good Place

Millstone executive like the ‘feel' of Henderson

By Chuck Stinnett of The Gleaner staff

Special Edition March 27, 1993

A few years ago, the owner of Everett, Wash.-based Millstone Coffee Inc. was looking for a site for his company's second gourmet coffee roasting plant.

“We had developed three sites in two states,” including Henderson, Phil Johnson recalled.

The determining factor, he said, would be the character and quality of life of each community.

“I've always said that when you get past the geographical area where you need to locate and if the economic things are basically equal, the reason to locate in a particular community is its ‘feel.'”

And the best way to understand that is to go there.

When an executive is looking for a plant site, “you get wined and dined and promised the moon,” Johnson said. “So I told Rich (Robenseifner, Millstone's vice president of coffee operations) that I wanted to go in unannounced and spend a day or two.

“Within three or four hours in Henderson, I knew it was the community.”

The result is that Millstone spent $2.4 million to construct and equip its plant at the Henderson County Riverport in 1991. It planned to someday employ 40 people. Instead, it today employs more than 100, and the company has begun construction on a $2.5 million expansion.

Many Hendersonians share Johnson's fondness for the community. They talk about its pace of life, the pleasantries that people exchange as they walk along downtown streets, the beauty of redbuds in spring bloom on North Elm Street, the feeling of being safer from random crime than people in much of America.

Dissolving such qualities into cold statistics isn't easy, although some people try.

Several years ago, Dennis Quillen, an Eastern Kentucky University geography professor, prepared a study in which he attempted to measure the quality of life of Kentucky counties. He considered criteria ranging from income levels and educational attainment to crime rates and recreational opportunities.



Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2005 HCH&GS