Business Briefs – January 2011

By wmadministrator

BOWLING GREEN
American Howa Kentucky Inc. has announced an $11.5 million expansion of its Bowling Green facility, where it manufactures sun shades and dash insulators for the automotive industry. The expansion, which will add 56,000 s.f. to the company’s existing 138,000-s.f. plant in the Kentucky Transpark, will create 86 new jobs.

CENTRAL KENTUCKY
The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) has granted Kentucky-American Water Co. a rate adjustment that will increase its annual revenue by $18.8 million, which will result in the average residential customer seeing an increase of about 29 percent as opposed to the 38 percent increase originally requested by KAWC. KAWC said the increase is needed to pay for a new water treatment plant on the Kentucky River in Owen County and the pipeline from the plant to Lexington, which went into service in September.  As permitted by Kentucky law, KAWC put its proposed rates into effect on Sept. 28. As a result of the PSC decision to set lower rates, the company will have to refund the amount it has over-collected, plus interest, to its customers. KAWC services some 119,000 customers in 10 Central Kentucky counties.

COVINGTON
Omnicare Inc.
, a Covington-based provider of pharmaceutical care for the elderly, has reorganized its Pharmacy Services business into two groups: Long-Term Care and Specialty Care. The reorganization involves taking the Long-Term Care Group from 11 regions to five divisions as part of a plan to improve coordination across the organization. Omnicare’s Specialty Care Group will consist of the  specialty pharmacy and specialty pharmaceutical services businesses as well as Omnicare’s hospice pharmacy and pharmaceutical case management business.  Omnicare plans to focus additional resources on these businesses and will leverage existing capabilities and pursue complementing avenues for growth.

EDGEWOOD
Northern Kentucky Heart PSC and Cardiology Associates PSC have entered into agreements to join St. Elizabeth Physicians, the multi-specialty physician organization of St. Elizabeth Healthcare. Upon completion, the arrangement will create the St. Elizabeth Physicians Heart and Vascular division, which will result in a regionally integrated cardiology service for the residents of Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati. Hospital officials said the integration will offer patients the benefit of more streamlined scheduling of tests and referrals and inter-connected electronic medical records. Together with the existing St. Elizabeth cardiologists, the new St. Elizabeth Physicians Heart and Vascular division now has eight cardiology office locations and 23 cardiologists practicing in the Greater Cincinnati area.

ELSMERE
Cincinnati ice cream company Graeter’s Inc. has ended its franchise contract with Elsmere, Ky.-based International Brand Services, which operated four retail locations in Lexington and four Northern Kentucky locations. International Brands closed all eight locations effective Dec. 3, but Graeter’s CEO Richard Graeter said the company plans to open retail locations in Kentucky in early 2011 and may possibly reopen stores in the same locations operated by International Brands. In the meantime, Graeter’s is continuing to sell its products in Kroger, Remke bigg’s and Meijer stores throughout Northern Kentucky and Lexington.

FRANKFORT
MML&K Government Solutions
, a Frankfort-based government affairs firm, has opened an office in Washington, D.C., and formed a strategic alliance with mCapitol Management, a bipartisan government relations and business development firm that has an office in Washington as well as a strong presence in the Midwest. MML&K currently operates government relations offices in Frankfort, Louisville and Lexington and law offices
Lexington, Louisville, Frankfort and Ashland.

HARRODSBURG
Hitachi Automotive Products (USA)
is investing an additional $48 million in the planned expansion of its plant in Harrodsburg, bringing the total project investment to $68 million. The expansion involves the construction of a new 170,400-s.f. facility that will produce advanced electronic control modules used for controlling automotive engine and drivetrain functions, new fuel systems and other new products for the automotive industry. In addition, Hitachi expects to increase the number of new jobs by 44, for a total of 145 new jobs over the next three years. The company currently employs a staff of some 625 employees. The new facility is expected to be complete by June 2011.

HEBRON
ZoomEssence Inc.
, a start-up research and development firm, is investing $1 million to develop its patented technology for creating liquid-quality flavors and ingredients in a powder form. The company, which was formed in late 2008, is developing a new method of spray drying that is used to produce products for the food and beverage, pharmaceutical and chemical markets, among others. The project will create 20 new jobs in Northern Kentucky, 11 of which are considered high-tech and technical support jobs paying an average annual salary of approximately $67,000.

LEXINGTON
NGAS Resources Inc.
, a Lexington company that specializes in horizontal drilling and completion technology in the southern Appalachian Basin, has signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by British Columbia-based Magnum Hunter Resources in an all-stock transaction valued at $98 million. The acquisition is expected to be complete by the end of March, at which time NGAS will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Magnum Hunter.

The Quantrell Auto Group has acquired the factory-authorized Subaru dealership for central and eastern Kentucky. New and pre-owned Subarus will be displayed, sold and serviced from the Quantrell building that formerly housed the Saturn franchise. Quantrell Companies President Bill Bridges said the company anticipates hiring 12 additional employees as a result of the acquisition.

Kentucky is one of only 11 states selected to receive a Ruminant Feed Ban/Feed Safety Support Program Grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture has received  $493,120 that will support an increase in the college’s capacity to determine potentially toxic levels of non-nutritive metals in minerals and other feeds for ruminant animals. The grant will further the college’s goal of protecting Kentucky consumers by monitoring and analyzing feed, fertilizer, milk, seed and soil.

The University of Kentucky has unveiled an energy savings plan designed to improve the efficiency of 61 campus buildings. The project will install a wide variety of technologies that focus on lighting, mechanical systems, and water usage. When completed in about a year, the $24.6 million project will save the university about $2.4 million annually. UK President Dr. Lee Todd said the improvements will reduce UK’s carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 24,000 tons each year, the equivalent of powering 5,251 homes; planting 62,257 acres of trees and removing 45,755 cars from the road each year.

Escent Technologies, a research company formed last year to develop and commercialize sensing devices used to analyze organic substances, has received $350,000 in incentive funding from the state. The company’s Spectroscopic Integrated Computational Sensing device will initially be used within the law enforcement market to identify unknown substances such as pills and powders. Other potential markets include food safety, raw material analysis, environmental and medical applications. The company plans to hire 13 employees and invest $500,000 as a result of the new operation.

Summit Biosciences has been awarded a federal grant of $147,886, which will be used to further the development of a nasal spray to treat nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy and wasting syndrome in AIDS patients. Summit CEO Greg Plucinksi said the grant for THC Nasal Spray will enable the company to accelerate development of the drug without diluting its equity.

Lexington-based Whitaker Bank has acquired Kentucky Trust Co. for an undisclosed sum. Kentucky Trust, founded in 1995, has locations in Danville, Bowling Green and Ashland, and has assets totaling $420.7 million. Whitaker operates in 25 central and eastern Kentucky communities and has assets totaling $2.1 billion.

LOUISVILLE
CreoSalus
, a Louis-ville life science company, has obtained Federal Drug Administration approval for its subsidiary, Thorn BioScience, to produce and market an equine drug. SucroMate Equine, which regulates ovulation in mares to increase the likelihood of conception when breeding horses, is the first drug of its kind to be developed and manufactured in Kentucky. As part of obtaining FDA approval for SucroMate, CreoSalus built the commonwealth’s only Class 100 sterile injectable filling room for pharmaceutical production. In the next year, CreoSalus will also begin soliciting production work for drugs currently being produced in other states.

Integrity Asset Management, a Louisville-based institutional investment management firm, has been acquired by Munder Capital Management, a money management firm headquartered in Birmingham, Mich. Integrity, which has more than $3 billion in assets under management, will retain its name, location and management team. Financial details of the acquisition have not been disclosed.

Appriss, a Louisville-based provider of public-safety information services, has acquired Open Portal Solutions, an Indiana company that specializes in document and content management solutions for both government and private-industry clients. Appriss currently manages more than 65 different criminal justice programs in 48 states.  Its services include VINE, the nation’s first automated victim information and notification service, and OffenderNet, one of the nation’s largest near real-time data networks of incarcerated persons. Appriss also provides the National Precursor Log Exchange, which is used by pharmacies and law enforcement investigators to track the purchase over-the-counter cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Louisville-based GE Appliances & Lighting has created a new division that will develop and commercialize GE’s full line of energy-management solutions. The new business unit will be headquartered in Louisville and will employ 35 to 40 workers.

Cincinnati-based First Financial Bancorp’s decision to consolidate selected banking centers will result in the company exiting the Louisville market, where it has a single location as a result of its 2009 acquisition of Irwin Union Bank. The consolidation will also affect four Michigan locations. First Financial said it plans to shift its resources toward its core markets in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio; Indianapolis; and southern and northwest Indiana.

Olin Brass, a leading manufacturer of copper and copper-alloy products, has announced plans to move its headquarter operations from East Alton, Ill., to Louisville. The move will create up to 39 new full-time, professional jobs over the next several years. The company plans a gradual transition of roles and business functions throughout the coming year and expects the new headquarters to be in full operation by the end of 2011.

Churchill Downs Inc. has completed the purchase of Harlow’s Casino Resort & Hotel in Greenville, Miss., a deal valued at approximately $138 million. CDI’s acquisition of the casino property follows its licensure by the Mississippi State Gaming Commission. CDI Chief Operating Officer William Carstanjen said the acquisition “is an important part of the diversification and growth strategies our management team has implemented for CDI’s racing, gaming and online business operations and well positions us to increase the value of our shareholders’ investment.” The acquisition adds approximately 480 employees to the CDI staff.

MIDWAY
Midway College
has received official approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to offer a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Midway President Dr. William B. Drake Jr. said the approval allows the college to proceed with offering the Doctor of Pharmacy degree and also develop other doctoral-level degrees in the future.

MILTON

Construction is now under way on a long-awaited project to replace the 82-year-old Ohio River bridge that connects Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind. Walsh Construction Co., of LaPorte, Ind., won the contract with a low bid of $103 million – $28 million below the original estimate – thanks to a construction technique that will require closure of the bridge for only 10 days in all. The project received a $20 million grant under TIGER – Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

NELSON COUNTY
A portion of the facility that formerly housed automotive supplier Intertec has been renovated by Nelson County Industries to accommodate the Guthrie Opportunity Center, which provides work for people who are developmentally disabled. The newly renovated, 80,000-s.f. space is double the size of the center’s previous location and will enable the center to expand the Bardstown-Nelson County Recycling Program, allow for increased contract work from local industries, house offices for the providers of wrap-around services to the employees, and provide a more conducive work environment for the 90 adults currently employed there.

RICHMOND
Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center
has formed a partnership with Central Baptist Hospital in nearby Lexington that enables the two organizations to share resources, reduce costs and maintain affordability of services. Dr. Aaron Thompson, chairman of the Pattie A. Clay board of directors, said the partnership provides flexibility and better positions the two hospitals to withstand anticipated reductions in reimbursement, while continuing to support their respective communities and preserve jobs.

SALEM
LHC Group Inc.
, a Louisiana-based provider of home healthcare and hospice, has acquired the Livingston Hospital and Healthcare Services Home Health in Salem, which serves Crittenden and Livingston counties. The agency will operate under the name of Lifeline HomeCare of Salem. LHC has also entered into a home health joint venture with Rockcastle Regional Hospital and Respiratory Care Center in Mount Vernon, Ky.

STATE
A new report released by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education shows substantial gains in college-going and college and career readiness levels of the 2008 high school graduates who subsequently enrolled in a college or university by fall 2008. According to the study, 63 percent of graduates from Kentucky’s public and private high schools in 2008 entered college by the fall semester, with 57 percent attending colleges and universities in Kentucky and an additional 6 percent attending out-of-state. In 2004, only 51 percent of high school graduates entered a Kentucky college or university.

F.N.B. Corp., a Pennsylvania-based financial services company, has entered the Kentucky market as part of an expansion of its consumer finance affiliate, Regency Finance Co.  Regency has already opened offices in Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Hopkinsville, Madisonville and Owensboro and plans to open in Henderson and Paducah by mid-January.

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