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The University of Louisville College of Education and Human Development has been awarded a five-year, $20.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to host the National Research Center on Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE). The grant is one of the largest federal grants the university has ever received, said Manuel Martinez-Maldonado, U of L executive vice president for research. As NRCCTE host, U of L will serve as the lead partner with other institutions, including the University of Minnesota, Cornell University, Clemson University and the Southern Region Education Board to develop innovative approaches to improve the practice of career and technical education at the local, state and national levels. UofL is the only the fourth research university in 30 years to win the award to be the NRCCTE host university. The center previously had been hosted by Ohio State University; the University of California, Berkeley; and, for the last eight years, the University of Minnesota.

GE’s Consumer & Industrial division, which is headquartered in Louisville, has announced that it is cutting some 1,400 jobs at its plants in Mexico, Brazil and the United States. The cuts are part of a companywide strategy to better position GE for global growth in the lighting industry. The restructuring is a continuation of company changes that have occurred over the last year, including facility closures, work transfers, employee reductions and the sale of GE operations in Europe, China, Indonesia, Latin America and the United States that have impacted more than 3,000 positions. No Kentucky jobs are being eliminated by the restructuring.

Louisville-based bank holding company Porter Bancorp Inc. has completed the acquisition of Ohio County Bancshares, the holding company for Kentucky Trust Bank. Kentucky Trust has approximately $120 million in assets and operates six retail banking offices in three central Kentucky counties, including the Beaver Dam, Bowling Green and Owensboro markets. The Kentucky Trust locations will be rebranded under the PBI Bank name. The total acquisition price was approximately $12 million.

The Sam Swope Auto Group has entered into an agreement to purchase the assets of Clapp Pontiac Buick GMC in Clarksville, Ind., for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition positions Swope as the exclusive Pontiac, Buick and GMC dealer in the Kentuckiana area.

BBR Wireless Management, a Louisville company that helps businesses manage their wireless products and services, has been acquired by Rivermine for an undisclosed amount. Virginia-based Rivermine provides telecom expense management solutions. The consolidated company will operate under the Rivermine name, with Rivermine President and CEO Mark Logan remaining in that position and BBR President and CEO Jim Carroll assuming the role of executive vice president of global wireless services. Company officials have said that no staffing changes are planned as a result of the merger.

The University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences has been awarded full accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health, making it one of only 40 accredited schools of public health in the nation. It is the only school that combines the disciplines of public health and information sciences. Among the programs offered are biostatistics-decision science, clinical investigation sciences and epidemiology, and environmental health. According to the American Public Health Association, the demand for highly educated public health professionals has sharply increased in response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and other public-health emergencies. Vacancy rates are as high as 20 percent in some state public health agencies and turnover rates have reached 14 percent in some parts of the nation.

Papa John’s International has been named as one of the top 50 franchises for minorities by the National Minority Franchising Initiative. NMFI made the selection based on a variety of factors, including historical performance, brand identification, franchisee satisfaction, the level of initial training, on-going support and financial stability. The selection also was based on the results of a detailed questionnaire that focused on the minority make-up of the existing franchisee base and at the senior management level within the franchisor, and development incentive programs offered to minority franchisees. Papa John’s recently launched an Enterprise Zone Program allowing franchisees who qualify to pay no up-front franchise fees for developing restaurants in predominantly urban markets. In addition, franchisees agreeing to build five or more units pay a reduced royalty through 2010, and those building less than five restaurants will pay no royalty during 2008. The program is available through Sept. 28, 2008.

UPS has launched an initiative to utilize biodiesel fuel in its ground support vehicles at the UPS Worldport air hub in Louisville. The biodiesel initiative is being launched with the support of a $515,000 federal grant that is helping offset some of the cost of building a fuel infrastructure at the airport. The infrastructure will provide a 5 percent biodiesel blend of fuel to run 366 ground support vehicles starting early next year.