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Locals praise arrival of software company

     Chuck Stinnett

    May 8, 2010

Bernie Hogan came to Henderson looking for a hangar for his company's two airplanes.

He ended up bringing his company -- hospital software developer Innovative Workflow Technologies -- here as well.

On Friday, community leaders participated with Hogan and his staff in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of IWT's new 8,000-square-foot offices along Kentucky 136-West near the Henderson City-County Airport.

Local officials hailed the company for bringing technology jobs -- such as software programmers, analysts and marketing and sales personnel -- to Henderson.

Just since announcing last August that it was coming to Henderson, IWT has doubled its work force to 24 people, 13 of whom now live in Kentucky.

"They said they wanted to have 40 employees in three years," Henderson County Judge-executive Sandy Watkins said. "Obviously they're well on their way with 24."

Last year, the company said it would pay programmers $60,000 to $80,000 per year.

"You have the kind of jobs we need in Kentucky -- skilled and well-paid," state Sen. Dorsey Ridley told company officials.

"IWT is a high-tech company," Hogan told a reporter afterward as he demonstrated some of his firm's software applications. One is a touch-screen application that allow nurses to enter information into a hospital's computer database concerning a patient's vital statistics from the bedside or, in a glance, view warnings and reminders about every patient on the floor.

"Vitals save lives," Hogan said. "You need to do that in real time. Hours make a lot of difference; minutes make a lot of difference."

That's among some 20 software applications that IWT sells to hospitals.

The company's software helps hospitals "increase the care they deliver and increase efficiencies," said IWT President and CEO Linda Frank said, who calls Hogan the company's "visionary and fearless leader."

The company and Methodist Hospital officials said they are very close to signing a contract in which IWT would provide the hospital with its software, then fly clients from other hospitals to Henderson to see it being used in real-world situations.

"What excites me, the documentation (software) allows the nursing staff to chart a patient's condition in less time than it does now," hospital Executive Director Bruce Begley said. "Our nursing staff can spend more time at the bedside. That's what nine out of 10 nurses got into the profession for -- to take care of patients."

At Union Hospital in Terre Haute, Ind., "There was a 53-percent reduction in nurse documentation time" after the IWT software was put into use there, according to Hogan.

Others in the hospital -- physicians, physical therapists, patient transporters, even housekeeping, security and maintenance personnel -- can enter information that relates to their engagement with patients, Hogan said.

"We're state-of-the-art," he said.

Meanwhile, Watkins noted some of the factors that made Henderson attractive to IWT.

"The investments we made at our airport" are paying off, Watkins said. "It is such a draw. It's another tool we use in economic development."

"The airport was key," company president Frank confirmed. "We have several planes, and one thing led to another," resulting in the company relocating from Evansville to Henderson.

Henderson County brought another tool to the table as well: It is loaning IWT $80,000 in county coal severance tax funds. If the company employs 40 Kentuckians within three years, the loan will be forgiven. For every job IWT comes short of that goal, it will repay the county $2,000 plus interest, Northwest Kentucky Forward President and CEO Kevin Sheilley said.

"That $80,000 will be very helpful as we equip our office with new furnishings," Frank said.

Watkins said he believes it is the first such local incentive in Kentucky.

Meanwhile, the state has approved IWT for up to $940,000 in corporate income tax incentives and a 4-percent wage assessment.

Frank credited numerous local officials, among them Watkins, Sheilley, Ridley, Begley, Mayor Tom Davis, Henderson City-County Airport Board Chairman Scott Miller and Bank of Henderson President Dale Sights.

Watkins, meanwhile, praised Glen Stone for his work in developing the small industrial park where IWT located and commended Stone and the company for using all local subcontractors.