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.

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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.