♦ Ashland is investing $15 million to replace a coal-fired boiler and an aging gas-fired boiler at its Calvert City plant with three new heat recovery steam generators that could eventually become part of a co-generation system. Ashland CEO James O’Brien said the investment will dramatically improve the operating efficiency of the facility and help the company compete more effectively on a global scale. The new system will also support plant operations during power outages, such as the ice storm of 2009. The Calvert City plant was acquired by Ashland in 2011, when it bought International Specialty Products. The facility has a full-time staff of 500.
♦ Carespring Health Care Management has broken ground on a $24 million transitional care facility in Cold Spring that will create 200 jobs. The project has been planned since 2008, but the recession caused a delay in construction. With work now under way, the 143-bed facility is projected to open in the fall of 2014 and will provide short-term rehabilitation and long-term nursing care.
♦ Stites and Harbison is opening a new office in Covington, the law firm’s first location in the Greater Cincinnati area. Prominent construction attorney William G. Geisen has joined Stites and Harbison as a member of the firm’s construction service group and will work out of the new Covington location. Stites and Harbison’s origins date back to 1832, making it one of the oldest law practices in the nation. The firm currently employs some 240 attorneys in nine offices located in Kentucky, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee and Virginia.
♦ Western Kentucky University has approved the transfer of 20 acres in Elizabethtown to the Hardin County school system for the creation of an early college and career center. High school students in the Hardin County Schools will use the center to take courses in several career pathways, including health science, engineering, manufacturing, transportation, distribution and logistics, media arts and communication and culinary arts and hospitality services. WKU and Elizabethtown Community and Technical College will partner with Hardin County Schools in providing instruction and dual credit courses. In addition, WKU will be able to offer courses in the building during evenings and weekends.
♦ Legion Logistics, a three-year-old Florence-based company that specializes in helping businesses of all sizes move freight throughout the U.S. and Canada, is investing $1 million to expand its Boone County facility. The project will add 24 new jobs to the existing 20-member staff.
♦ Beam Inc. plans to move the bottling operations of its Pinnacle Vodka and Calico Jack Rum products from Maine to its recently expanded facility in Frankfort. The transition will be conducted in stages and is expected to be complete by the end of the first quarter of 2014. The company plans to add approximately 45 new jobs as a result of the move. In addition to its Frankfort bottling operation, Beam also has bottling plants in Clermont and Loretto and a distillery in Boston, Ky., and has invested heavily in its Kentucky locations in recent years, putting $128 million into its Kentucky manufacturing operations since 2005 and adding 200 new jobs.
♦ Frontier Airlines will begin flying out of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) this May with nonstop service between CVG and Denver. Frontier is a low-cost airline that operates from a primary hub at Denver International Airport. The CVG-DEN service will utilize the 168-seat Airbus 320 aircraft and offers passengers connections to 19 destinations beyond Denver.
♦ Trinitas Ventures, an Indiana-based developer of student housing and mixed-used communities, has begun construction work on a new 699-bed student housing project that will serve students at the University of Kentucky. The property, which is located one mile northwest of UK’s main campus, is slated to open this August.
♦ Keeneland has acquired the library collection of the Thoroughbred Times, which was recently sold via an online auction. The library consists of approximately 10,000 volumes and 57 file cabinets of books and journals – some dating from the 19th century – as well as historic clip files, photographs, and stallion registries and stud books from Europe, Asia, Australia, Latin America and the United States. The collection will be open to the public once it is inventoried and cataloged.
♦ Fazoli’s, a Lexington-based quick-serve Italian restaurant chain, is extending its brand into grocery store shelves. The company’s new heat-and-serve product line currently includes four entrees and two side dishes, priced at $6.99 for the entrees and $4.49 for the sides. The products are currently available at Schnuck’s, Shop ’n Save and A&P; Marsh, Safeway, Meijer and others will begin carrying the products in the coming months.
♦ The J.M. Smucker Co. is investing $43 million to upgrade its Lexington plant, where it produces the popular Jif peanut butter brand. Ohio-based Smucker is a leading marketer and manufacturer of fruit spreads, retail packaged coffee, peanut butter, shortening and oils, ice cream toppings, sweetened condensed milk, and health and natural foods beverages in North America. The company currently has 279 employees at its Jif operation in Lexington, where it plans to upgrade machinery, equipment and expand product lines to meet increased demand.
♦ SERVPRO, a company that specializes in property cleanup and restoration after fire, smoke and water damage, has built a 15,000-s.f. facility in London that will serve as the company’s regional headquarters. The company will employ a staff of 10 in London.
♦ Baptist Hospital East is investing $2.8 million in a renovation project that will increase the number of private rooms from approximately 80 percent to nearly 99 percent. The project is expected to be complete by August.
♦ FoodCare, a young company founded in Silicon Valley and now headquartered in Louisville, has launched a new application for Android and iPhone systems that provides nutritional information tailored to specific dietary guidelines. The EveryoneEat app is designed for people who have chronic nutrition-related health conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease and allows users to immediately search for dishes at 180,000 restaurants nationwide to determine how closely they match their individual dietary needs. FoodCare, previously known as FoodCalc, specializes in providing nutrition-related apps and services to consumers, healthcare providers, food service businesses and health-related technology companies.
♦ Louisville-based Beam Technologies has launched its new Beam Brush, a product that is being marketed as “the world’s first smart toothbrush.” The Beam Brush, which is sold for $49.99, is a manual toothbrush that is embedded with a sensor that monitors the user’s oral hygiene habits and can then report the data to a free smartphone app. With an increased amount of data linking oral health to heart disease, Alzheimer’s and other health conditions, health experts say brushing for two minutes at least twice a day is an important preventative step. The company is also in the process of establishing an online rewards system for users who achieve their healthcare goals.
♦ The University of Louisville’s capital campaign will get a $6 million boost for student scholarships thanks to a $3 million gift from the Henry Vogt Foundation and its president, Henry V. Heuser Jr., and $3 million in matching gifts from other donors. Kentucky students who have a 3.75 GPA in high school and score at least a 30 on the ACT or 1320 on the SAT are eligible to apply for the awards, which include full tuition and an annual $3,500 educational allowance.
♦ As part of its overall effort to revitalize and modernize the Long John Silver’s (LJS) brand since it came under new ownership a little more than a year ago, the Louisville-based restaurant chain has announced a series of new products and menu enhancements that represent the first major menu restructuring in nearly a decade. The new products include more non-fried products and a wider variety of side dishes. The company has also rolled out a widespread social and digital media campaign designed to introduce the new menu and monitor product and promotional performance.
♦ In order to meet an increasing global demand for acrylic elastomers, Zeon Chemicals plans to expand the production capacity of its HyTemp product by 50 percent at its Louisville manufacturing facility. HyTemp ACM heat- and oil-resistant polymers are used primarily in automotive seals, gaskets, and hoses. “The push for higher fuel efficiency has led to the design of more compact vehicles and the prevalent use of turbochargers to produce more horsepower from smaller engines,” said Eric Saunders, business manager for the HyTemp product line. “These design elements, and the presence of more aggressive engine fluids, have led to the exposure to increased temperatures and the need for more fluid-resistant materials for engine components. Our expanded production is a direct response to meeting the increasing demand for high-performance, heat- and oil-resistant elastomers for use in extreme conditions in under-the-hood environments.”
♦ Louisville-based Summit Energy is now operating under the name of its parent company, Schneider Electric, and will function within the newly created Schneider Electric Professional Services division. Founded in 1991 as a small natural-gas consulting firm, Summit has grown to encompass a team of more than 850 energy management professionals and has offices throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management and sustainability services headquartered in France, acquired Summit in 2011 in a $268 million transaction.
♦ Oxmoor Center is undergoing a multimillion-dollar redevelopment that will involve demolishing the existing food court area to make way for a more open environment and the addition of a soft play area for children and new seating areas, as well as new retailers and eateries. The project is scheduled to be completed later this year, in time for the holiday shopping season.
♦ KentuckyOne Health, a nonprofit organization formed by the merger of Louisville-based Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare Inc. and Lexington-based Saint Joseph Health System Inc., has announced that it will establish its headquarters in downtown Louisville. KentuckyOne’s network includes more than 200 locations in Kentucky and Southern Indiana and more than 13,600 employees. The organization plans to add 10 full-time jobs at the new headquarter operations.
♦ The city of Louisville is purchasing a prime 30-acre tract of land in the western part of the city for $1.2 million and plans to aggressively market it to companies looking to expand or relocate to the city. The property was previously home to National Tobacco and is currently owned by the state government. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the site is located on a rail line, abuts the interstate and is “ideal and ready for development.” “When we began to think strategically about how to make that happen, it was obvious that everything ties back to jobs. If we can create good jobs, that will improve the neighborhoods,” Fischer said. “We’re not looking for just any tenant. This is prime land and we want prime jobs that pay well. It’s very unusual to have 30 acres ready to develop in the urban core of Louisville.”
♦ The Louisville Metro Council has unanimously given approval for financial incentives designed to help developers reopen Kentucky Kingdom by the summer of 2014. Among other stipulations, the commitment is contingent on the park creating 720 jobs, phased in over several years, beginning with 220 jobs in 2014.
♦ Jefferson Community & Technical College has opened a Small Business & Entrepreneurship Center to house a new accelerated, four-month program designed to give potential entrepreneurs the skills they need to succeed. The full-time program is offered on a selective admission basis to individuals from all fields, and covers 16 college credit hours in four months, leading to a certificate in small-business management. Capping off the program is an 18-month mentorship program in which emerging entrepreneurs are partnered with a successful small-business owner or executive to help them craft and execute their business plan.
♦ VMV Paducahbilt, a provider of new and remanufactured locomotives and related products, is investing $920,000 to expand its operations in Paducah. The project will include additional shop equipment, IT upgrades, phone systems and building repairs. The expansion will add 25 new full-time jobs to the existing staff of 144.
♦ The Woodford Fiscal Court has granted final approval for a county planning ordinance that will allow for a restaurant at CastlePost, the Woodford County landmark that was converted to a luxury inn after decades of sitting unused. CastlePost has operated as an inn since 2008, but is currently only open to overnight guest or visitors attending special events there. The newly passed ordinance will allow for a restaurant that will be open to the general public.
♦ SunChemical informed employees in early February of plans to close its Wurtland plant by mid-March, eliminating 30 jobs. The plant, which produces blue ink for printers, has been in operation for more than 20 years.
♦ The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has launched two new programs aimed at helping Kentucky military veterans find jobs in agriculture and sell their farm products. Kentucky Proud Jobs for Vets connects veterans looking for work with farmers who need labor and is a strategic partnership initiative between the department and USA Cares, a Kentucky-based 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides financial and advocacy support to military members, veterans and their families. Homegrown by Heroes is a new logo that identifies farm products produced by Kentucky veterans, providing an incentive for consumers to buy those products and for retailers to stock them.
♦ Kentucky’s automotive industry enjoyed a banner year in 2012, with annual production reaching more than 1 million vehicles for the first time since 2007. The figures put Kentucky fourth in the nation for total light-vehicle production, up from fifth in 2011. Kentucky is home to nearly 450 motor vehicle-related facilities that employ nearly 75,000 people.
♦ More than 500,000 people visited Kentucky Bourbon Trail distilleries in 2012, the first time that the popular tourist attraction has broken the half-million mark since its inception in 1999. Visitors came from all 50 states and more than 50 countries to make the iconic Bluegrass journey. A University of Louisville study found that each person who completes the tour spends $737 on average, resulting in an economic impact of more than $32 million for the state over the last five years.