The Pennyrile Rural Electric Cooperative Corp. has been awarded $3.1 million from a settlement agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Tennessee Valley Authority that will be used to support construction of a 5-megawatt solar photovoltaic project at Fort Campbell. The grant is leveraged with more than $15 million in financing support from Fort Campbell. The completed system will generate more than 6,652 megawatt hours per year of electricity, enough to power 463 homes, while avoiding 4.7 million tons per year of CO2 emissions.
Gap Inc. is closing two distribution center centers in Hebron, a move that will affect some 350 jobs. The centers are slated to close by June 30, and the company will begin laying off employees beginning in mid-April. Gap will continue to operate two other facilities on the Hebron campus that employ approximately 150 people – the National Recovery Center, which handles store returns, and the Dolwick Logistics Business Center, which handles transportation logistics engineering and IT work – as well as a clearance outlet. The company said the decision to close the Hebron distribution centers, which have been in operation since 1975, was part of an adjustment to its distribution model. Gap will continue to operate distribution centers in California, Tennessee and New York.
♦ Lexmark International Inc. has acquired medical technology solutions company Acuo Technologies for $45 million. Acuo Technologies specializes in high-performance software and services for clinical content management, data migration and vendor-neutral archives, and will become part of Perceptive Software, a Lexmark company.
♦ MedPro Safety Products Inc., a Lexington-based medical technologies company, has agreed to sell its patents associated with three blood collection and infusion products to Greiner Bio-One GmbH for approximately $30 million. MedPro Chairman and CEO William Craig Turner said the transaction strengthens MedPro’s balance sheet and better positions the company for additional marketing and distribution partnerships.
♦ CLARK Material Handling Co. is expanding its manufacturing production in Lexington to include electric burden carriers and electric golf car products and plans to add at least 20 new jobs to support the additional production. The expansion is a result of CLARK’s recent purchase of EverGreen Electric Vehicles. CLARK plans to move production of the electric vehicles from the Long Beach, Calif., plant where they are currently produced to Lexington. The California plant will be closed, but the company plans to retain Evergreen’s Colorado-based sales force. Production is expected to begin within the coming weeks.
♦ San Antonio, Texas-based Biomedical Development Corp. is expanding its operations to Lexington after securing two grants from the Kentucky SBIR-STTR Matching Funds Program. Aligned with the innovative grant program and the University of Kentucky, the 28-year-old company hopes to extend its successful record investing in healthcare technologies. BDC’s Kentucky operations will focus on two initiatives: a mouth rinse that fights oral inflammation and a patient-management software designed to better chart and treat bipolar disorder.
♦ Lexington businessman Ron Switzer has bought the Turfland Mall property in Lexington from the Chicago firm of Rubloff Development for $6 million, according to a report by The (Lexington) Herald-Leader. Rubloff acquired the property, built in 1966 as Lexington’s first enclosed shopping mall, some 15 years ago but never moved forward with any of its redevelopment plans. Last year, Heritage Bank of Hopkinsville sued to foreclose on the property, citing a failure to make payments. The lawsuit also accused Rubloff of allowing the property “to deteriorate into a state of substantial and material disrepair.” Switzer, who owns numerous other Lexington properties, plans to raze most of the 367,000-s.f. structure but told the paper he did not have specific plans beyond that. The acquisition did not include any of the outparcels adjacent to the mall property.
♦ Louisville-based spirits company Brown-Forman plans to establish its own distribution company in France in 2014. Noting that France is the world’s third largest whiskey market, Brown-Forman said that having its own distribution company will further the growth of its Jack Daniel’s trademark and support the development of the company’s broader premium brand portfolio in the French market.
♦ Louisville must redouble its efforts to add 55,000 more college graduates by 2020, according to the 2012 annual report from the 55,000 Degrees initiative. The percentage of working-age adults with college degrees declined slightly from 2010 to 2011 after a decade of steady increases. The drop reflects a loss of almost 9,000 bachelor’s degrees at the same time the city population grew and associate and graduate degrees increased. Data from the 2011 American Community Survey suggests that part of the decline was caused by college-educated people leaving Louisville for other parts of the region or country.
♦ NHK Spring Precision of America Inc. is investing $19 million in its Louisville operations as part of an expansion that will add 50 new full-time jobs to the existing 80-member staff. NHK Louisville is a subsidiary of NHK Spring Co. Ltd., a Japanese company that ranks as the largest spring manufacturer in the world. The company produces springs for automobiles, industrial machinery and hard-disk drives. The expansion plans call for the addition of a new 57,000-s.f. facility to the company’s existing 93,000-s.f. plant. Construction is expected to be complete by this summer.
♦ Louisville-based Neace Lukens has added two more companies to its stable of insurance companies. Neace Lukens completed its acquisition of the Davis-Garvin Agency in late December – its ninth acquisition for 2012 – and kicked off 2013 with the purchase of Schroeder Agency. Davis-Garvin is a Columbia, S.C., company that operates four satellite offices throughout the Southeast and is well known for its specialized focus on lumber and forestry products. Schroeder, of Rushville, Ill., has been in operation for more than 80 years and primarily handles personal lines and property and casualty insurance. The acquisitions expand Neace Luken’s network to 28 offices. The company employs more than 150 licensed agents and 650 employees.
♦ The Regional Health Network of Kentucky and Southern Indiana, a joint venture of Norton Healthcare and LifePoint Hospitals, has acquired Scott Memorial Hospital, a 25-bed critical-access hospital in Scottsburg, Ind. Under the terms of the agreement, the Norton Healthcare and LifePoint joint venture will invest $3 million in Scott Memorial over the next five years to strengthen services, invest in new technology and recruit needed physicians. The acquisition is the first for the joint venture between Norton Healthcare and LifePoint, which was formed in May 2012. LifePoint is the managing partner and Norton Healthcare serves as the clinical partner.
♦ Louisville-based Blue Equity LLC has sold its interest in The Antilles Group Ltd. to the Rubis Group for an undisclosed amount. The Antilles Group is a licensed user of Shell petroleum products in Jamaica and is the largest fuel retailer in that country, with an extensive network of more than 50 service stations. Blue Equity acquired controlling interest of the company in 2011. Rubis’ acquisition of the company consolidates its presence in the Caribbean, where it is one of the largest downstream fuel supply operators.
♦ Kindred Healthcare has acquired a Los Angeles home health company for $2 million in cash. The acquisition of Homecare Advantage, which operates one location in Los Angeles, will give Kindred 18 locations in the L.A. market. Homecare Advantage currently generates annualized revenues of approximately $2.5 million.
♦ Chicago real estate investment trust company Ventas Inc. and the management team of Atria Senior Living Inc. now own 100 percent of Louisville-based Atria as a result of a recent transaction in which Ventas acquired private investment funds previously managed by Lazard Frères Real Estate Investors LLC. Ventas now owns a 34 percent interest in Atria, with Atria management and employees owning the remaining 66 percent.
♦ Kentucky High Tech Performance Trailers has opened a new 80,000-s.f. facility in Louisville to accommodate additional growth. The company specializes in custom design and manufacture of trailers for the motorsports transport and corporate marketing industries that include distinctive features such as office workstations and living quarters, complete with custom cabinetry and state-of-the-art audio, video and communication systems. The new facility, located one mile away from the Kentucky Trailer headquarters, includes several construction bays as well as an 80-foot paint booth with heated and rapid-curing technology. While specific numbers were not released, the company expects to add more jobs in the months ahead as a result of the expansion.
♦ Corporate hospitality packages are being made available for the 96th PGA Championship, which will be held at the Valhalla Golf Club Aug. 4-10, 2014. Packages are available at a variety of price points to accommodate anywhere from 10 to 100 guests per day and include on-course hospitality, parking, food, beverages and alcohol. “This is a unique opportunity for companies to appreciate current customers and entertain new prospects, while witnessing the greatest golfers in the world compete for a major championship,” said Larry Sinclair, director of corporate hospitality sales for PGA of America. A 5 percent discount on all purchases is available through Feb. 28. For details, visit pga.com/pgachampionship/hospitality/2014-pga-championship-hospitality.
Middlesboro Coca-Cola Inc. is adding 24,000 s.f. of space to provide additional warehousing space. Regional Sales Manager Bobby Abbott told The (Middlesboro) Daily News that sales of the company’s Cumberland Gap Mountain Spring Water have been strong, with a million-plus cases sold last year. Warehousing the water is taking up half of the current warehouse space, and with sales continuing to grow, more space is needed. Construction is expected to be complete by mid-summer.
Two retail service and merchandising firms are moving to Newport’s riverfront district, bringing 77 jobs and more than $4 million annual payroll to the area. Harlow-HRK Sales & Marketing and P.L. Marketing Inc., two Ohio companies that focus on sales, marketing and merchandising in the grocery industry, plan to consolidate their headquarter operations into a single space at One Riverfront Place.
Unique Granite and Marble Inc. is expanding its operations in Owensboro, where it has been manufacturing custom granite and quartz countertops since 2004. With the expansion, the company plans to establish a new division to produce countertops for large commercial and multi-family units throughout a six-state region. The expansion will add 25 new full-time jobs to the existing 28-member staff.
Monessen Hearth Systems Co. has changed its name to Vermont Castings Group, which is reflective of the company’s heritage and its leading brand group. The overall structure, size and organization of the company will stay the same, with headquarters remaining in Paris. No personnel changes are expected as a result of the name change.
The Simpsonville City Commission has approved a zone change the formal plans for Trio Properties and Paragon Outlet Partners to build a 400,000-s.f. outlet mall on 47 acres south of I-64 and east of Buck Creek Road. Last fall, the commission also approved plans submitted by Horizon Group to build a 364,000-s.f. outlet mall on 55 acres west of Buck Creek Road. Horizon is awaiting approval from the Army Corps of Engineers to drain a small lake on its property, but is otherwise ready to move forward. According to reports by The (Shelbyville) Sentinel-News, both Trio/Paragon and Horizon plan to break ground this year and hope to open by the summer of 2014.
YH America Inc. is expanding its plant in Versailles, where it produces windshield sealant and related products for automotive vehicles. The $5 million expansion will add a second urethane sealant production line, doubling the plant’s ability to meet customer demand in the Americas. The plant currently employs 29 people and will add 10 full-time jobs as a result of the expansion.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission has approved East Kentucky Power Co.’s application to integrate its system into the PJM Interconnection, a Pennsylvania-based organization that coordinates and directs the operation of a regional transmission grid and administers a competitive wholesale electricity market for an area that covers 13 states and the District of Columbia. Currently, EKPC operates its own control area, where it is responsible for matching electric-generation from its power plants with members’ demand for electricity. David Crews, EKPC’s senior vice president of power supply, said membership in PJM will help EKPC offset rising costs for its 16 owner-member cooperatives and the 520,000 Kentucky homes and businesses they serve.
Kentucky had 368 teachers to be awarded National Board Certification in 2012, the seventh-highest number in the nation to achieve the prestigious designation. National board certification is a performance-based evaluation that measures a teacher’s practice against rigorous standards. Kentucky is ranked ninth overall in the nation for the total number of teachers who have earned national board certification. The top 10 states for national board certifications in 2012 were: North Carolina, Washington, Illinois, California, Arkansas, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland and New York.