♦ Restaurateur Jeff Ruby has announced that he will reopen his Waterfront restaurant in Covington, which was destroyed in 2011 when the Ohio River flooded and the restaurant was swept away by strong currents. Ruby has signed a 10-year lease with the city and told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he hopes to have the restored restaurant open by December, if all goes according to plan. According to The Enquirer, Ruby is investing upwards of $1.5 million to add additional features to the restaurant.
♦ Dawson Springs has been designated as Kentucky’s first “Trail Town,” a program designed to guide travelers to trails, food, lodging, campgrounds, museums, entertainment and other services while helping communities add more tourism jobs and opportunities. Dawson Springs is situated near several areas with outdoor attractions, including Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park, Pennyrile State Forest, the Tradewater River and Lake Beshear. More than 30 communities have started the application process to become a Trail Town.
♦ A newly formed company that produces glass doors is establishing its manufacturing operations in Elkton, creating 110 new jobs. Glass Door Solutions LLC plans to lease a facility in Elkton, where it will produce doors for grocery and convenience store display cases, as well as components such as frame posts, LED lighting and shelving.
♦ Domtar Paper Co. is investing $20 million to upgrade and add equipment at its Hawesville facility, where it employs more than 450 people. The Hawesville plant produces approximately 80,000 tons of market hardwood pulp, which is used for paper production, and approximately 600,000 tons of printing-grade paper each year. As part of the upgrade, Domtar is constructing a new conveyor system, which will allow the company to transport its product directly between the plant and the nearby Ohio River, reducing operating expenses while also lowering greenhouse gases.
♦ Frontier Airlines, the newest carrier at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, has made changes to its reservations system that could result in extra fees for passengers. Travelers purchasing a Frontier ticket on a third-party site rather than directly through FlyFrontier.com will be charged fees ranging from $25 to $100 for a carry-on bag, in addition to fees of $20 to $25 per checked bag. All tickets sold through FlyFrontier.com include a free carry-on bag with the fare. All customers, regardless of where their tickets were purchased, will be able to carry on one free personal item, as long as it measures no larger than 18” x 14” x 8” and fits under the seat. Frontier will also begin charging $1.99 for coffee, tea, soda and juice, effective July 1.
♦ Travelers passing through the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport can now indulge their sweet tooth with one of the region’s most iconic treats: Graeter’s ice cream. “This really fits with our goal of making CVG a reflection of its community,” said CVG CEO Candace McGraw. “Few things signify the Greater Cincinnati area as Graeter’s.” The Graeter’s kiosk is located at Concourse A near Gate 12.
♦ The Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law has received a $1 million gift from W. Bruce Lunsford to establish and support the W. Bruce Lunsford Academy for Law, Business and Technology. The university said the focus of the program will be to develop “renaissance lawyers” for the Information Age, equipping them with the technological, financial and professional skill sets needed to practice modern law. Lunsford is a 1974 graduate of Chase College of Law and currently serves as chairman and CEO of Lunsford Capital LLC, a Louisville-based private investment company.
♦ Automotive parts supplier ARaymond Tinnerman has expanded its growth plans in Flemingsburg, nearly quadrupling its investment and almost doubling the number of new jobs from what was originally planned. In 2010, the company announced plans to invest $515,000 to expand the Flemingsburg plant and add 28 full-time jobs. Since then, the scope of the project has grown to an investment of $1.96 million and the addition of 52 jobs. The company’s Flemingsburg plant currently produces window-channel guides, sunroof components and structural parts for the auto industry. With the expansion, the plant will add a new process of plastic moldings and assemblies.
♦ Restaurateur Jeff Ruby has confirmed that he plans to open a restaurant in downtown Lexington by May 2015. The new restaurant will be located in the proposed CentrePoint development.
♦ Tiffany & Co. is investing $2 million to expand its manufacturing operations in Lexington and plans to add 75 new jobs to support the expansion. Tiffany first broke ground on the 25,000-s.f. jewelry manufacturing facility in November 2010 and held a grand opening in September 2011. Located on four acres in the Blue Grass Business Park, the facility currently employs 125 people and produces a variety of jewelry pieces that are sold in Tiffany stores around the world.
♦ The University of Kentucky board of trustees has approved the purchase of the grounds and facilities of the Lexington Theological Seminary for $13.5 million. The seminary, which is situated directly across from UK’s campus, is transitioning to a curriculum in which students primarily handle their coursework online, thus requiring significantly less classroom space. For UK, the acquisition provides access to potential classroom space within the existing campus footprint at a time when it will be greatly needed because of planned renovations of existing facilities.
♦ Xerox is adding 250 full-time customer service representatives, supervisors and quality analysts to provide support for five different clients that are in the process of expanding operations in Lexington. The news comes on the heels of Gov. Steve Beshear’s April announcement that Xerox would be adding 100 new jobs to support a Kentucky-based call center for individuals seeking health insurance information through the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange. Xerox currently employs more than 3,000 people in Lexington and nearly 5,000 statewide.
♦ Fan Outfitters, a Lexington sports apparel chain that operates seven stores in Kentucky and Oklahoma, has been sold to Indianapolis-based Lids Sports Group for an undisclosed amount. The Fan Outfitters stores – located in Lexington; Louisville; Norman, Okla.; and Moore, Okla. – will retain all of their employees and will be branded as Fan Outfitters by Lids, with each store maintaining its local identity. Fan Outfitters co-founder Stephen Dawahare told The Lexington Herald-Leader that the business was doing well, but new regulations imposed by the Affordable Care Act were making it difficult to expand and that a larger company like Lids would be better positioned to grow the Fan Outfitters brand.
♦ Lexington-based Fazoli’s has reached agreements with three new franchisees for six travel center units in Texas, Iowa and Colorado. In addition, two current operators plan to open travel center units in Indiana and Tennessee. Like the Lexington-based restaurant chains’ two existing travel center units, the new ones will offer dine-in, carry-out and drive-through service and will carry the full menu of Italian entrée, sandwiches and salads. All of the new units are expected to open this year.
♦ Birtley, Kentucky’s first Chinese-owned manufacturing company, officially opened its new 67,500-s.f. facility in Lexington’s Blue Grass Business Park in April. Birtley is a producer of coal equipment processing machinery used to refine coal into a cleaner and more efficient energy source. Birtley’s parent company, Shandong Borun, has three manufacturing plants in China that produce machines used in coal preparation and mineral processing and devices used in the power, steel, cement and port industries. Birtley has invested approximately $10 million in the Lexington project and plans to hire between 30 and 50 employees to staff the plant.
♦ Kindred Healthcare Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to sell 17 healthcare facilities to Vibra Healthcare LLC, a Pennsylvania-based specialty hospital provider. The $187 million transaction includes 15 transitional-care hospitals (licensed as long-term acute care hospitals), one in-patient rehabilitation facility and one skilled nursing facility, all of which are located outside of Louisville-based Kindred’s 21 designated “integrated care markets.” Kindred CEO Paul Diaz said the sale enables the company to sharpen its focus on the integrated care markets and provides further capital to expand the company’s home health and hospice operations.
♦ Heaven Hill Distilleries’ new Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville has been designated as the eighth stop on the popular Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The Bourbon Experience is a multimillion-dollar artisanal distillery and immersive tourism experience that is scheduled to open this fall. It will be the first Louisville site to be included on the Bourbon Trail.
♦ Louisville-based insurance company Neace Lukens has completed its acquisition of Buckley & Co., an independent insurance agency headquartered in Lexington. Formed in 1896, Buckley provides commercial insurance for small businesses; personal insurance; and life, health and employee benefits insurance. Buckley will merge with the existing Neace Lukens office in Lexington, bringing the total number of employees there to 40. The acquisition is the third this year for Neace Lukens, which has expanded significantly since becoming part of Florida-based AssuredPartners Inc. in September 2011 and currently has more than 150 licensed agents and 700-plus employees operating in 30 offices across 13 states.
♦ Louisville-based healthcare company Humana Inc. is adding 500 telesales positions nationally to help meet the demand of its upcoming annual Medicare open enrollment period, which runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. The new jobs will be located in Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona and Texas. Humana currently employs nearly 49,000 people nationwide, including its subsidiary companies. In Louisville, the company has about 11,000 employees.
♦ Snap-on Inc., a global manufacturer and marketer of tools, equipment, diagnostics, repair information and systems solutions, has acquired Louisville-based Challenger Lifts Inc. for $38 million in cash. Challenger, which had 2012 sales of approximately $45 million, designs, manufactures and distributes vehicle lifts and accessories for the automotive repair sector. Snap-on said the Challenger product line complements and increases its existing undercar equipment offerings and broadens the company’s ability to serve vehicle repair facilities.
♦ Ford Motor Co.’s Kentucky Truck Plant is one of 20 Ford facilities that will reduce its traditional two-week summer shutdown to one week in order to help meet increased product demand. The company plans to produce 40,000 more vehicles as a result of the shortened down time.
♦ ACE Compressor Parts and Services Inc. is investing $1.1 million to expand its operations in Mayfield, where it provides repair, replacement parts and service for air compressors. The company, which was established in Mayfield in 2009, is purchasing land and equipment to meet an increased demand for business, and will be adding 10 full-time jobs to its current 10-member staff. Plans call for a 12,000-s.f. facility to be built in a new industrial park on Highway 45 in Mayfield.
♦ LATA Environmental Services of Kentucky has filed notice with the state of its plans to lay off approximately 145 workers at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, citing uncertainties in federal funding. U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield issued a statement on the matter, saying it was “time for the Department of Energy to come up with a long-term plan that will maximize job retention and growth for the foreseeable future. We refuse to stand idly by while DOE runs out the clock on potential private-sector job investment that would create jobs here in Paducah.” They also noted that they would “refuse any proposal to move the depleted uranium tails out of state, which would only transfer economic development that may result.” Mark Duff, medication contractor and project manager for LATA Kentucky, told The Paducah Sun that if funding isn’t approved, the layoffs will go into effect July 2.
♦ Battelle National Inc., one of the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organizations, has been awarded a $76 million contract to support the final phases of the Blue Grass Chemical Agent – Destruction Pilot Plant in Richmond, which is being built to handle the destruction of more than 500 tons of munitions containing blister agents and chemical nerve agents. Battelle has been part of similar demilitarization operations in Alabama, Colorado, Maryland and Utah. The only remaining stockpiles of chemical weapons in the U.S. inventory are located at the Pueblo Chemical Army Depot and Blue Grass Army Depot. The five-year contract at Blue Grass will create 150 jobs.
♦ Japanese-owned automotive supplier Nifco America Corp. has added 73,000 s.f. to its existing 115,000-s.f. facility in Shelbyville and purchased new state-of-the-art injection molding equipment to meet increased demand from its key customer, Toyota Motor Corp. The expansion will add 100 new jobs by the end of 2013, bringing the company’s total Shelbyville employment to approximately 200.
♦ Automotive supplier Dorman Products Inc. is investing $6.5 million to expand its facility in Warsaw to meet increased demand for the company’s products. Dorman is a leading supplier of automotive replacement parts, hardware and brake products to the aftermarket and mass merchandise markets. The company currently employs a staff of 300 in Warsaw and anticipates adding 80 more jobs as a result of the expansion project.