Knox County Business Recognized for Advanced Manufacturing Training Program

Advanced manufacturing is currently making up only a small part of the industry landscape in Knox County, but if Courtney Campbell has anything to say about it, that’s going to change.

Through his business, Campbell Plumbing and Excavating (CPE), Inc., located in the Artemus community of Knox County, Campbell is already training a number of people on the operation of computer numerical control (CNC) machines, which are used to fabricate various kinds of parts for a variety of applications.

“Without the workforce, you don’t have a business. There’s already a workforce here, but the skills they have, that’s the key,” Campbell said, adding that this training will add people into the local workforce who are prepared to work within an industry that competes on a global level.

It was during a ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 30 that CPE, Inc. was officially recognized as part of the state’s apprenticeship program. Kentucky Commissioner of Workforce Investment Ray Leathers announced CPE’s new designation, and also made note of the team effort it took to get this new training program off the ground.

It was collaboration between several partner organizations that led to Campbell implementing the in-house training, which takes places over 16 weeks and results in industry-recognized certifications. Those partners include Digital Careers Now, the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), Inc., Kentucky Career Center JobSight, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, Hazard, Community and Technical College, Big Sandy Community and Technical College, and Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR).

“From EKCEP’s perspective, we were very happy to be able to partner on this project,” said EKCEP Executive Director Jeff Whitehead. “As work continues to turn around Eastern Kentucky’s economy, collaboration between community and economic development organizations and stakeholders such as our local employers will be key to ensuring that we’re able to help create jobs, but also the capacity to keep these jobs within our region.”

Campbell noted that he views this designation not only as growth for his business, but another step in building a better local community.

“The main thing to me is that it’s going to make a difference in Knox County,” Campbell said. “These jobs are not minimum wage jobs, they are definitely good-paying jobs.”

Campbell said he has also ordered two additional CNC machines, which will translate into even more jobs and the potential to expand his business with new clients from various industries.

“We’d like to get into aerospace,” he said, adding that he’s already spoken with company representatives within that industry. “Hopefully in five years we’re making parts that go to the moon or beyond, from right here in Artemus.”

EKCEP, a nonprofit workforce development agency headquartered in Hazard, Ky., serves the citizens of 23 Appalachian coalfield counties. The agency provides an array of workforce development services, administers the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) program for dislocated coal miners and their spouses, and is the White House-designated lead organization for the federal TechHire designation for Eastern Kentucky. Learn more about us at, and