Appalachian Wildlife Foundation selects contractor

Published 1:56 pm Monday, March 4, 2019

A general contractor has been chosen to move forward with the construction of the visitor center for the Appalachian Wildlife Center.

The Appalachian Wildlife Foundation (AWF) selected Hacker Brothers Construction, a company based out of London, to construct the state-of-the-art 80,000-square-foot visitor center near Pineville.

According to a press release from AWF, construction is set to begin in the next couple of weeks with the projected completion and opening in the summer of 2021.

Officials are estimating the facility will attract more than 850,000 visitors annually and will generate more than $170 million in annual spending and create more than 2,900 jobs.

“Our priority was to find a general contractor with a strong record for successfully completing large complicated projects and, if possible, we wanted to work with a local contractor,” said AWF President David Ledford. “Hacker Brothers checked both boxes and made it an easy decision. They are highly regarded in the community and have a long record of success.”

The visitor’s center will be the first of nine stand-alone attractions on the 20-square-mile tract of property.

SOAR has supported the Appalachian Wildlife Center project since its inception and the project aligns with SOAR’s Regional Blueprint, specifically the goal of making Appalachia Kentucky a tourism destination.

“This is a significant step for David [Ledford] and his team,” said Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR. “This project has the potential to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to Appalachia Kentucky, and that will have a ripple effect to not only Bell, Harlan, Knox and surrounding counties, but all of Appalachia Kentucky.”

Additionally, SOAR supported AWF’s successful efforts in being awarded a $12.5 million grant through the 2016 AML Pilot program and an additional $1.8 million awarded by an Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) grant.