Home » Fast Lane — February 2013

Fast Lane — February 2013

By Karen Baird

MURRAY: German automotive supplier Kemmerich to hire 120 for new U.S. headquarters in Murray

A German automotive supplier has announced plans to locate its United States headquarters in Murray, bringing 120 full-time jobs to the commonwealth.

Gov. Steve Beshear, right, met with Kemmerich Director Josef Kemmerich last July on a visit to Germany that helped solidify Kemmerich’s plans to locate a plant in Kentucky.
Gov. Steve Beshear, right, met with Kemmerich Director Josef Kemmerich last July on a visit to Germany that helped solidify Kemmerich’s plans to locate a plant in Kentucky.

Kemmerich was founded more than 115 years ago and has become a key supplier to the automotive industry, producing stamped and welded components for a variety of manufacturers.

“We chose Murray after a lengthy search throughout the United States,” said Kemmerich CEO Thomas Bergen. “Three key factors were important to us: cost of production, work force and logistics. We see that Murray offers lower costs of production, a highly flexible and qualified work force and a favorable location. Our new plant will be strategically positioned to supply General Motors and Ford in the Midwest, as well as Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen in the South.”

The Kemmerich project, which represents an investment of more than $12 million, is the second new location announced by a German-owned company in Murray in the last several months. In late November, automotive supplier iwis announced plans to locate its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Murray, where it will occupy the former Webasto plant. iwis plans to hire 75 full-time employees to staff the plant, which will produce timing drive systems for automotive engines.

Construction on Kemmerich’s Murray facility is expected to start later this spring.

HEBRON: Southern Air announces plans to move headquarters from Connecticut to N. Kentucky

Airfreight operator Southern Air is moving its headquarters from Connecticut to the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), where its largest customer, DHL, operates one of its three main global hubs.

DHL is Southern Air’s largest client.

Northern Kentucky is already home to Southern’s largest hub and plans to relocate the company’s headquarters to the area have been in the works since the middle of last year, when the Kenton County Airport Board approved a lease agreement for approximately 33,000 s.f. of space for five years with an option to extend that to 15 years. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority also approved up to $270,000 in tax incentives last year to encourage the cargo carrier to shift its main operations to Northern Kentucky, with the stipulation that the company meet investment and hiring commitments. At that time, Southern was looking at an $8.5 million investment that would produce 120 new jobs within the first year and 150 within three years. Southern also considered Dallas, Fort Lauderdale and Norwalk, Conn., as relocation sites.

Southern’s parent company, Southern Air Holdings, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year after losing U.S. Defense Department work. The company has since reduced its $285 million debt by two thirds and cut its workforce from a previous level of 611.

“It has become apparent that a relocation of our headquarters is warranted for both strategic and financial reasons,” Southern CEO Dan McHugh said in an email sent to employees and obtained by the New Haven (Conn.) Register. “Over the last 18 months, our management team and advisors have conducted in-depth research and analysis to evaluate key U.S. markets for factors critical to Southern Air, including reduced costs, access to aviation talent and proximity to key customers.”

The company’s 120 Connecticut employees will be laid off in March, though some will be offered the opportunity to relocate.

LOUISVILLE: Fair board OKs Kentucky Kingdom lease, could reopen by 2014

Approval of a new lease agreement last month by the Kentucky State Fair Board moves the reopening of Kentucky Kingdom as early as spring 2014. The investors, Kentucky Kingdom LLLP, now must secure the final private loans – worth $25 million – before the park can open.

The state is currently conducting a study to determine if an application by an investor group hoping to reopen Kentucky Kingdom meets criteria for incentives, which could be as much as $10 million over 10 years.
The state is currently conducting a study to determine if an application by an investor group hoping to reopen Kentucky Kingdom meets criteria for incentives, which could be as much as $10 million over 10 years.

The investors have agreed to initially invest $45 million in the park, which has been closed since 2009.

“This agreement is great news for the families who will visit Kentucky Kingdom and will certainly be a shot in the arm for local and regional tourism,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “This lease will also mean hundreds of jobs as well as much-needed income for the Fair Board.”

The Fair Board and Kentucky Kingdom investors agreed to a 50-year lease after the state issued a request last year seeking proposals to reopen the park. Kentucky Kingdom LLLP was the only entity to submit a proposal. The lease also includes a provision that will allow for the expansion of the water park at Kentucky Kingdom.

“This lease agreement is a fair deal for both our state taxpayers and for the investors seeking to operate the park,” said Board Chairman Ron Carmicle. “The lease protects taxpayers from shouldering private debt and ensures that the park operators have every opportunity to succeed. As soon as the private financing is finalized, the countdown begins to a reopened and reinvigorated tourist attraction.”

The rental income for the Fair Board starts at $475,000 in the first year and will increase by $50,000 a year for the first 15 years of the agreement.

Kentucky Kingdom is required to spend $13 million in 2013 and 2014 to get the park open. It must spend another $7 million on the park through the 2016 season. After 2017, it must spend at least $1 million annually on the park.

LOUISVILLE: Churchill Downs unveils new venue for off-track betting

Churchill Downs has opened a new multipurpose on-track venue that will house off-track betting as well as other racing-related activities.

FL_Churchill Downs Parlay
Churchill Downs’ newest venue is located just inside Gate 1 of the track and will accommodate 600 patrons for off-track betting.

The Parlay is located on the first floor of the Churchill Downs racetrack at Gate 1. The 14,000-s.f. facility will comfortably accommodate 600 patrons and also includes the TSC Elite Gold Room, an area dedicated to Churchill Downs’ VIP players.

In racing and gambling parlance, a parlay is a set of two or more wagers set up in advance so that both the original bet and its winnings are played together in a subsequent wager. The name was chosen by Churchill Downs to reflect multiple uses planned for the new venue.

The Parlay is one of four capital projects valued at $9 million launched in mid-2012 by Churchill Downs. The others are: The Mansion, a distinctive hospitality venue set for early spring completion; the Plaza, an open-air space adjacent to the Paddock and Gate 1 that opened during the 2012 Fall Meet; and a second-floor Clubhouse Gold Room, which was unveiled in August 2012 and will continue to serve VIP players during live racing meets.

Through its joint venture with Delaware North Companies Gaming & Entertainment, Churchill is also moving forward with its plans for a new gaming and racing facility near I-75 between Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio. The new “racino” will sit on 120 acres and will feature a 5/8-mile harness racing track and a 186,000-s.f. gaming facility with up to 2,500 video lottery terminals. The new $215 million facility is expected to open in the first quarter of 2014.

PADUCAH: Dippin’ Dots to add 30 jobs as part of $3.1 million expansion

Novelty ice cream producer Dippin’ Dots LLC has announced plans to expand its operations in Paducah, creating 30 new full-time positions and investing more than $3.1 million in the project.

Founded in 1988, Dippin’ Dots now distributes its frozen treats to 48 states and 11 countries.

The Paducah-based company currently employs 170 workers, 60 of whom are located in Paducah, and distributes products to all 50 states and 11 countries.

The investment includes constructing a new energy-efficient freezer system as well as operational upgrades designed to improve efficiencies throughout the 120,000-s.f. production and distribution facility.

Stan Jones, vice president of operations for Dippin’ Dots, said the state-of-the-art freezer system utilizes a cascade refrigeration system that is equipped with a new industrial cooling technology.

“This process – the latest in ‘green’ technology – has proven to be ideal for products requiring ultra-low temperatures such as Dippin’ Dots,” Jones said.

S. KENTUCKY: Cumberland water level will be raised ahead of schedule

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said it plans to raise the water level of Lake Cumberland by 20 feet this summer, a year ahead of schedule.

In 2007, the Corps lowered the water level by 40 feet to enable repairs on Wolf Creek Dam. Without the repair, Corps officials said, the nearly mile-long dam could fail and would flood communities all along the Cumberland River.

Repairs were necessary, but lowering the water level resulted in fewer visitors to lakeside communities, hurting local marinas and other tourism-related businesses.

FL lake cumberland
Repairs on Wolf Creek Dam are nearing completion, which will allow the water level at Lake Cumberland to be raised this summer.

Assuming a review of the new barrier wall meets all the safety standards, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources plans to stock 150,000 more walleyes and 150,000 more striped bass than normal this year and plans to jump-start the trophy trout fishery in the Lake Cumberland tailwater by stocking 10,000 trout larger than 15 inches next winter.

“I think this is the best news we could have received,” said Carolyn Mounce, executive director of the Somerset-Pulaski County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s going to make fishing on Lake Cumberland a premium.”

“This is great news for tourists, boaters, fishermen and the marinas and other businesses in the Lake Cumberland area,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “The early completion of the work at Wolf Creek Dam will help bring back much-needed jobs in this area.”


LOUISVILLE: S.Y. Bancorp to acquire The Bancorp Inc. for $20 million

Louisville-based S.Y. Bancorp Inc., parent company of Stock Yard Bank & Trust Co., has announced plans to acquire The Bancorp Inc. in a deal valued at nearly $20 million.

The Bancorp, headquartered in La Grange, Ky., is the holding company for The Bank – Oldham County Inc., which operates four branches, one each in La Grange, Louisville, Crestwood and Prospect. As of Sept. 30, 2012, Bancorp had approximately $137.4 million in assets, $46.8 million in loans, $114.9 million in deposits and $19.4 million in tangible common equity.

The combination of the two banks is expected to create the largest locally owned community bank in the Louisville metropolitan statistical area in terms of deposits relative to total deposits. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2013.

S.Y. Chairman and CEO David Heintzman noted that Oldham County ranks No. 1 in the state in terms of household income and has seen its population grow 32 percent over the last 10 years, making it the second fastest growing county in the Louisville MSA and the fourth largest in the state.

“This transaction presents a prudent opportunity to deploy our solid capital base and extend our footprint to the northeast into contiguous Oldham County through the acquisition of a strong franchise with solid asset quality, capital strength and a history of profitability,” said Heintzman.

STATE: Ky. offering state grants to encourage international exports

Kentucky’s Cabinet for Economic Development is now accepting applications from Kentucky small businesses for grant money made available through the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP).


1.  Canada                     $6.5 billion

2.  United Kingdom      $1.5 billion

3.  Mexico                     $1.5 billion

4.  Japan                        $1.1 billion

5.  Brazil                      $997 million

The grant program is part of a three-year trade and export promotion pilot initiative authorized by the Small Business Administration Act of 2010, which aims to increase the number of small businesses that export, as well as to increase the value of exports for companies that are currently doing so.

As of early January, the Cabinet had secured funding in excess of $800,000 through the program to promote exporting activities for Kentucky’s small businesses. This is the second round of grants offered through the program. Maximum grant awards for new STEP participants is $7,500; for prior STEP participants it is $2,500. Applications will be accepted through June 2013.

Successful grant applicants will be able to utilize the funds to perform market research, identify international customers, participate in trade shows and translate websites and marketing materials. Grants are available to Kentucky companies with fewer than 500 employees that meet revenue requirements set by the Small Business Administration.

Kentucky’s exports grew 9.9 percent for the first 10 months of 2012, to a record $18.4 billion, eclipsing the former mark set the first 10 months of 2011. Export shipments for all of 2011 totaled $20.1 billion, $740 million more than in 2010. Last year, exports added $4.7 billion to the commonwealth’s gross domestic product and directly created 47,000 jobs. Kentucky ranks 19th in the nation in total exports, and is ranked 11th in U.S. exporting on a per capita basis.

For more information on the STEP grant, visit kyexports.com and click on “assistance.”

LEXINGTON: UK Healthcare selected to operate Eastern State Hospital

Gov. Steve Beshear announces that UK HealthCare will manage the new Eastern State Hospital in Lexington.
Gov. Steve Beshear announces that UK HealthCare will manage the new Eastern State Hospital in Lexington.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has signed an agreement with the University of Kentucky for UK to operate and manage the newly constructed Eastern State Hospital in Lexington.

The new 239-bed, $129 million hospital is slated to open this summer and will replace the existing facility, which is the second-oldest psychiatric hospital in the country. The new hospital will offer inpatient psychiatric treatment, a new neuro-behavioral unit offering specialized services for individuals with acquired brain injuries, a long-term-care unit serving individuals with psychiatric disabilities requiring nursing facility level of care, and acute inpatient behavioral health treatment. The campus will also include three “personal care homes,” which offer less restrictive care and promote the patients’ return to a community setting.

As administrator of Eastern State, UK will leverage its internal clinical and research expertise in psychiatry, psychology, pharmacology, social work, marital and family therapy, public health law and other areas that are key to evidence-based treatments. The collaboration will allow UK to train clinicians and researchers in evidence-based care and prepare them to practice in the world of integrated behavioral and general medical care, which is generally more cost effective and believed to lead to better outcomes for patients.

NORTHERN KY.: New development plan unveiled for Ky.’s riverfront cities

Southbank Partners, a collaboration of Northern Kentucky private citizens, business leaders, local government administrators and elected officials, has unveiled an economic development plan for the “Southbank” cities that line the Northern Kentucky side of the Ohio River.

Southbank Partners’ Imagination 2020 plan will serve as a roadmap for economic development along the Northern Kentucky side of the Ohio River.
Southbank Partners’ Imagination 2020 plan will serve as a roadmap for economic development along the Northern Kentucky side of the Ohio River.

Southbank President Jack Moreland said the Imagination 2020 plan “will focus on land use, preserving open space, connecting neighborhood districts, creating housing opportunities, bolstering transportation and infrastructure, developing entertainment and cultural areas, and improving the livability, walkability and commerce of the area.”

Imagination 2020 will assist in facilitating and realizing major new projects that include:

• Riverfront Commons, a planned 11-mile, uninterrupted walkway/bikeway/pathway that would extend from Ludlow to Fort Thomas and link all of the Southbank cities.

• Creation of “urban villages” in Covington’s Fifth Street area and along Rivera Drive in Bellevue and mixed-use developments along the Ludlow and Dayton riverfronts.

• Expansion of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center and creation of the Gateway Community and Technical College Urban Campus, both in Covington.

• Manhattan Harbor, a 100-acre riverfront site in Dayton that can accommodate a mixture of residential and commercial uses.

Southbank Partners was established in 1997. Its member cities include Covington, Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, Ludlow and Fort Thomas. The organization has played a role in helping bring the Newport Aquarium and numerous Northern Kentucky hotel, restaurant and residential developments to fruition.