A few decades ago, Jim Booth sensed he might need to think about business beyond his two eastern-Kentucky coal mines, so he started a building-supply company, invested in real estate and began purchasing retail outlets. Over the past five years, his privately held coal conglomerate, Booth Energy, went from producing 8 million to 5 million tons of coal a year, and its workforce shrank by almost a third. But Booth says he was able to offset losses thanks to his varied companies, including a chain of Fast Lane convenience stores, which employs 800 people. "Coal has been our backbone," he says....
Coal Miner's Totter
What Kentucky's effort to break its mining addiction can teach other states
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