Business briefs from around the state — Sept. 2012
The board of directors of WestLake Regional Hospital announced on Aug. 8 that it has terminated discussions with LifePoint Hospitals after failing to reach a definitive asset purchase agreement with the Tennessee-based hospital company. The Westlake board selected Lifepoint in May as the finalist its search for a strategic partner. However, Board Chairman James Evans said the board could not accept the final price offered by Lifepoint and felt it was in the best interests of the hospital to identify another strategic partner. Westlake is a 77-bed acute care hospital that serves Adair County and surrounding communities of 35,000. The hospital also operates five outpatient locations.
Green Boiler Technologies (GBT) is investing $365,000 to expand its operations in Danville, where it manufactures boilers, water heaters and boiler room accessories. GBT was founded in 2007 and the following year the company acquired Sellers Engineering, a Danville company that had been in continuous operation since 1931. The upcoming expansion will add 27 employees to the current 70-member workforce.
STC Management Group is investing $350,000 to expand its footprint in Elizabethtown and will add 15 jobs as a result of the expansion. STC Management Group has been headquartered in Elizabethtown since 2004 and supports more than 40 business units for Sun Tan City within Kentucky and more than 170 business units in 17 other states. The headquarters also provides support for Planet Fitness, which has facilities in Kentucky and Indiana.
Pemco World Air Services has filed papers informing the state that it will close its operations in Erlanger, effective Oct. 9. The Tampa, Fla.-based company announced in 2010 that it was establishing an aircraft maintenance and repair base at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport that would create up to 300 new jobs. However, earlier this year the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing the effects of the nation’s economic downturn and a slowdown in the number and magnitude of MROs (maintenance, repair and overhaul). The closing will affect 64 employees.
Christian Care Communities has acquired Hartford-based Pro-Care Home Health, a full-service home healthcare company that provides service in 10 west-central Kentucky counties. Christian Care Communities, headquartered in Louisville, is one of the state’s largest faith-based, nonprofit providers of housing and long-term care for older adults. Pro-Care will now operate as Christian Care at Home.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Amazon.com is planning a massive expansion for its Hebron facility that will include the addition of up to 900 full-time, permanent positions and 5,000 seasonal workers to meet holiday demand. The Hebron distribution center opened in 2005 with approximately 50 employees and currently has a workforce of more than 1,000 full-time employees. The new jobs are welcome news for the Northern Kentucky region, which is losing some 1,000 jobs with the shutdown of Comair Inc.
The LKLP Community Action Council Inc. has been awarded a $5 million federal grant for the creation of a transit hub in downtown Hindman that will increase access to public transportation in Leslie, Knott, Letcher and Perry counties. Gov. Steve Beshear, who announced the grant from the Federal Transit Administration, noted that for many Kentuckians – especially the poor, elderly and disabled – “public transportation is the difference between isolation and access to jobs, doctors, grocery stores and other shopping.” The transit hub will be located within 1,000 feet of a low-income housing area and will also host LKLP Outreach Services, which offers financial counseling and other services.
Hopkinsville-based Planters Bank has announced its intent to acquire five Old National Bank branches. Old National, headquartered in Evansville, Ind., is selling its branches in Princeton, Providence, Dawson Springs, Sebree and Sturgis, Ky., as part of an effort to increase efficiency. As part of the agreement, Planters is assuming all of the deposit liabilities, but will not acquire any loans. The total deposits being assumed were approximately $92 million as of Aug. 1, 2012. Planters was founded in 1996 and currently operates three branches in Hopkinsville and five branches and a mortgage office in Clarksville, Tenn.
Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. has become the seventh member of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, an attraction that has become one of the state’s most popular among tourists. Located in downtown Lexington, the new $6 million distillery – the first to be built in Lexington in more than a century – is slated to open this month, with tours beginning Oct. 1.
Norton Healthcare has announced that it will provide $250,000 to fund a professorship in healthcare leadership at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health and will support an annual $10,000 scholarship for the college’s master of health administration program.
The board of directors for Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance (KEMI) last month approved reducing the minimum premium policy by 20 percent, to $400 annually. “These actions by our board affirm KEMI’s ongoing commitment to Kentucky businesses,” said Roger Fries, president and CEO of KEMI. “For the last eight years, KEMI has been reducing rates; today they are 40 percent lower than when we opened for business in 1995.” Fries said the company’s goal is to find ways to “provide financial relief to policyholders while maintaining KEMI’s financial stability through actuarially sound decisions.”
West Sixth Brewing of Lexington has announced plans to more than double its current brewery capacity with the addition of two 60- barrel fermenters. The addition will enable West Sixth to brew 60 more barrels of beer each week and increase the variety of beers available at its taproom in downtown Lexington.
The Jackson Energy Cooperative Corp. has received a $227,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that will be used to help the London-Laurel Industrial Development Authority retrofit an industrial building and convert it for use as a distribution center. The grant is part of the USDA’s Rural Economic Development Grant program, which helps fund programs that will create and retain employment in rural areas.
The University of Louisville School of Nursing has reintroduced its neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) program in response to anticipated job growth in the field. NNPs provide comprehensive care to high-risk infants, coordinating care among various specialists and team members. The NNP program is UofL’s seventh major concentration for the master’s in nursing program.
Louisville-based Kindred Healthcare Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire a Texas home health provider for $71 million in cash. IntegraCare Holdings Inc., a portfolio company of private equity firm Flexpoint Ford, provides home health, hospice and community services in 47 locations across Texas. Kindred, which currently operates 16 healthcare facilities within IntegraCare’s existing service areas, said the expansion will offer a platform for organic expansion into additional markets throughout the South. Kindred CEO Paul Diaz said that with the acquisition of IntegraCare, Kindred’s home health and hospice division will have a revenue run rate in excess of $200 million and more than 100 locations.
Shareholders of Brown-Forman Corp. have approved a three-for-two stock split for its Class A and Class B common stock. The authorization will apply to stockholders of record as of Aug. 3, 2012. Brown-Forman is a spirits company that produces well-known brands such as Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort, Finlandia and Sonoma-Cutrer.
OrionRx LLC, a specialty pharmacy healthcare company, has announced plans to locate its headquarters in Louisville, creating 14 jobs. The Louisville facility will service the company’s existing locations in Tennessee and Ohio.
Louisville-based health insurance company Humana Inc. has acquired Harris, Rothberg International, a New York company that provides services to employers assisting employees with personal issues ranging from emotional, financial and legal problems to child/elder care needs to alcoholism and drug abuse. Humana said the acquisition will support the company’s efforts to help employer-customers reduce healthcare spending while also targeting productivity challenges stemming from healthcare and disability issues. HRI’s services also include employee coaching and training. HRI currently serves approximately 5.5 million people in the U.S. and another 70,000 internationally. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Atlas Machine and Supply is donating machining, welding and engineering services worth up to $50,000 to help overhaul the Belle of Louisville’s engines, which are more than a century old. The Belle is the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat in the world and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1989. David Karem, executive director of the Waterfront Development Corp. (which oversees the steamboat’s operations), noted that many of the parts will have to be specifically fabricated and said the gift from Louisville-based Atlas will go a long way to ensure the continued service of the historic steamboat.
The Louisville-based law firm of Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs has acquired Williams McDaniel PC, a 45-year-old firm headquartered in Memphis. The addition of the nine attorneys of Williams McDaniel gives Wyatt one of the largest estate planning law groups among regional firms in the country. Wyatt is a full-service firm with approximately 200 lawyers. In addition to its offices in Louisville and Memphis, the firm also has locations in Lexington, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; New Albany, Ind.; and Jackson, Miss.
University of Louisville Hospital is eliminating open-heart surgeries, closing its sleep center and limiting nonemergency outpatient services for uninsured patients in an effort to pare its costs in the face of financial struggles. The hospital has been searching for ways to reign in expenses as state funding declined and an effort in 2011 to merge with St. Joseph Health System and Jewish & St. Mary’s was nixed by Gov. Steve Beshear, who cited concerns about “the influence of a religious entity on a publicly owned institution, especially regarding reproductive issues.”
Southwest Airlines has launched nonstop flight service between Louisville International Airport and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Southwest is operating three daily nonstop flights, utilizing the 137-seat Boeing 737 aircraft.
Two Louisville companies have partnered to bring new products to market in the agriculture and commercial growing company. Monty’s Plant Food Co., which produces plant and soil enhancement products, has signed an exclusive agreement with OrganoCat, a green science and technology company that focuses on innovative materials, processes and applications to optimize performance, build soil and plant structure, and improve crop yields. Over the past three years, OrganoCat has invested heavily in new technology development, which will be brought to market
The Greater Cincinnati area, which encompasses Northern Kentucky, was recently identified by Global Trade magazine as one of the top 50 cities for global trade. Ranked at No. 16 on the list, the Cincinnati area was also identified as being the least costly metro area for business in the U.S. The city is home to more than 1,000 area firms that generate approximately $6.7 billion in sales each year to markets outside the United States.
A $475,500 multicounty coal severance grant to Daviess and Hancock counties is being used to fund a new veterinary technology degree program at Owensboro Community and Technical College. The funding will allow the college to renovate existing facilities on the school’s downtown campus to reflect industry standards and will help purchase equipment to outfit the newly renovated facilities. According to the Kentucky Occupational Outlook, the veterinary tech field is one of the state’s fastest-growing career fields and demand in the Owensboro area is particularly high due to the large number of farms in the OCTC service area. OCTC will be the first community college in the state to offer an accredited veterinary technology program. Morehead State University and Murray State University are the only colleges in Kentucky to currently offer veterinary tech programs.
Advantage Capital Partners, a venture capital and small-business finance firm, has invested $10 million in Owensboro Grain Co., a soy product and edible oil producer. The funds, raised in connection with the Kentucky New Markets Development program, will allow the company to expand its operations to include a glycerin refinery plant. The expansion will add 10 permanent jobs.
Alltech has invested more than $4 million in new yeast-production technology that has been installed at the Nicholasville-based company’s plant in Springfield, where it produces a number of Alltech natural animal health and nutrition products for shipment throughout North America and more than 20 countries around the globe. Alltech teamed with SPX, a global leader in manufacturing, to design and build a new system to process yeast, which is at the core of many of Alltech’s natural animal nutrition products. The new system is capable of processing 52,000 lbs of liquid yeast each day and producing up to 20,000 gallons of ethanol per week. It will also be installed in Alltech’s new Thomasville, Ga. production facility, which is currently under construction and expected to be complete by the end of the year.
Mid South Sales is launching a new food supply company in Uniontown that will create 30 full-time jobs. Mid South owners Linda and James Baird are well known for their chicken salad and pimento cheese salad sold under the Jim David Meats brand. The new product line will feature salad and party trays that will be sold in stores nationwide.
Nisshin Automotive Tubing LLC is investing $7.1 million to purchase and install equipment and expand its 38,600-s.f. manufacturing facility in Versailles, where it manufactures stainless steel tubes for auto exhaust systems. As part of the expansion, which will add 23,500 s.f. to the plant, the company will begin producing gas tank filler systems. Nisshin President Hiroshi Okamura said the expansion will not only increase the company’s capacity, but will also increase locally produced products, which will be used in place of imported steel.
AT&T is adding 20 full-time customer service representatives at its East Park call center in Grayson and an additional 38 full- and part-time positions at retail stores in Bowling Green, Corbin, Lexington, Louisville, Owensboro and Winchester. The Grayson center opened in 2001 and currently employs more than 500 people.
The Kentucky Lottery’s sales of $823.5 million for Fiscal Year 2012 broke the sales records of $810.5 million set in FY09 and surpassed FY11 sales by $51.2 million. Of the 2012 sales, $216.4 million went to the scholarship and grant programs funded by the lottery. Unclaimed prizes, which are directed by law to the state’s KEES scholarship reserve fund, totaled $8.3 million.