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From best food to places to live, Paducah really makes 'the list'

By DAVID ZOELLER dzoeller@paducahsun.com

W

hen it comes to a wide range of rankings on everything from fast food fare to the best river cities in which to retire, the Paducah area definitely makes the list.

From both a state and national perspective, Paducah/McCracken County has been prominently listed in a number of rankings this year.

Where to Retire, a national magazine catering to retirees, included Paducah in its "8 Rejuvenating River Cities," as ideal for retirement.

"We found that retirees often like to migrate to water, it's obviously just a beautiful setting," said Annette Fuller, Where to Retire's editor.

"We searched great retirement communities that are also near rivers ... and Paducah just shined," Fuller said.

"Retirees want to live somewhere where there is artistry and entrepreneurship and wonderful downtown with things going on. That is important maybe more to retirees than any other group."

Attractions like the National Quilt Museum, Lower Town Arts District, and the Carson Center, as well as educational opportunities helped propel Paducah's ranking.

"All of those things play into it being a great place to retire," said Paducah Mayor Gayle Kaler.

"Plus the fact that Paducah/McCracken County is such a friendly community."

Calloway and McCracken were ranked among the top Kentucky counties in which to live in 2016 by the website niche.com.

The ranking provides a comprehensive assessment of the overall livability of an area, taking into account factors such as quality of life, local schools, crime rates, housing trends, employment and access to amenities.

"Any time we get positive publicity about our community it is an aid for us in recruiting people to live here, or hopefully bring a new business," said Sandra Wilson, president of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce.

Food helped fuel Paducah's inclusion on two lists this year, too.

Starnes Barbecue, 1008 Joe Clifton Drive, had the distinction of topping the list in Southern Living Magazine's "10 Must-Visit Kentucky Barbecue Joints" in its June issue.

"We were honored, plain and simple," said Tim Starnes, third-generation owner.

"Compliments coming from the outside are always welcome."

According to the magazine's writer, Starnes' menu is "slim, but fine: barbecue on a sandwich or by the pound, with potato salad and slaw on the side. Meats include beef, ham, and turkey, but start with the pork sandwich in Paducah's signature style - chopped fine and served between two slices of buttery toasted white bread."

The website FindTheHome.com identified Paducah as the nation's "fast food capital," in its listing of cities with the highest density of fast food restaurants per 10,000 residents. Because Paducah was listed as having 13.8 fast food places per 10,000 residents, that comes to approximately 33 fast food options considering the city's 25,000 population.

Besides being named to several "best of" lists, Paducah also had its share of positive publicity from sources outside the community this year.

Paducah has been prominently mentioned in a number of online and print publications, from as close as Nashville and as far away as Japan. The Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau works with a New York-based public relations firm, Lou Hammond and Associates, which specializes in cultural tourism.

"Our goal is to establish Paducah's brand as a destination, and that is highlighted through outside recommendations," said Laura Oswald, PCVB marketing director.

"In some of our target markets like Nashville and Chicago, we love it when (the media) share the Paducah experience with their audience," she said.

"We're constantly developing relationships with media locally, regionally, nationally and internationally."

This summer, Paducah has been featured in such diverse publications as Meetings Today Magazine, Delta Sky Magazine, Nashville Scene, and StyleBlueprint.

According to Oswald, it is important to invest in tourism, since it generates outside dollars coming in to the local economy.

"It pays off through people dining in our restaurants, staying in our hotels, shopping at our shops and visiting our attractions," Oswald said. "It continues to pay off through tax dollars."

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