Home » Fast Lane — May 2014

Fast Lane — May 2014

By Karen Baird

LEXINGTON: New Keeneland facility to house instant racing simulcasts

As it launched its 2014 spring meet last month, Keeneland announced two significant changes coming to the track in the months ahead.

Keeneland’s new event center is scheduled to open in July 2015.
Keeneland’s new event center is scheduled to open in July 2015.

A new 40,000-s.f. multipurpose facility is being built that will house Keeneland’s simulcast wagering, 600 instant racing machines and dining options that will range from a café to a sports bar, providing food service for 200 people. The new Keeneland Event Center is scheduled to open in July 2015.

In another significant change, Keeneland announced it will be converting its main race track to a dirt surface that will be in place in time for this year’s fall meet.

Although the synthetic Polytrack surface that was installed in 2006 consistently ranked as one of the nation’s safest racing surfaces, Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said owners and trainers – especially those who compete at the highest levels – “overwhelmingly prefer dirt tracks.”

Horse trainer Todd Pletcher concurred.

“For us, being based in New York, it’s what our horses are used to running on,” Pletcher said.” Keeneland’s return to dirt will provide greater consistency for horses shipping in from New York, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas and other tracks around the U.S.”

“In keeping with our mission and the quality that is expected of Keeneland, we have to be more competitive in attracting the top horses and Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup contenders and in hosting major racing events,” Thomason said.

The new state-of-the-art dirt surface will feature a drainage system that will be the first of its kind in North America. The conversion will take place over the summer, with construction scheduled to begin May 19 and be completed Aug. 15. The track will reopen for training Sept. 1. The fall meet begins Oct. 3.

JAMESTOWN: Fruit of the Loom to move textile operations to Honduras

Fruit of the Loom announced in April that it plans to close its manufacturing plant in Jamestown, resulting in the lay off of all 600 employees by the end of the year.

The decision is part of the company’s “ongoing efforts to align its global supply chain” and will enable the company to leverage its existing investments to meet customer demand in a more cost effective and timely fashion, according to a press release issued by the Bowling Green-based apparel company.

FLBB_Fruit_of_the_LoomLogo“This decision is in no way a reflection on the dedication and efforts of the employees in our Jamestown facility, but is a result of a competitive global business environment,” said Tony Pelaski, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Fruit of the Loom.

The announcement comes as a huge blow for the community. Fruit of the Loom is Jamestown’s largest employer and its 600 jobs account for about a third of all manufacturing jobs in Russell County, according to Russell County Judge-Executive Gary Robertson.

Local officials also pointed out the effect the job loss will have on the school system and other local businesses, as well as the loss of some $200,000 in occupational taxes.

The plant has been part of Jamestown since 1981 and reached its peak employment of 3,247 in 1990.

Fruit of the Loom said the closure will be completed in phases, beginning June 8 and continuing until the end of the year.

In addition to its flagship Fruit of the Loom brand, the company – which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway – also produces clothing under the Vanity Fair, Spalding and Russell Athletic brands.

EMLYN: Houseboat company producing energy-efficient homes in Whitley County

A rendering of the energy-efficient homes being built by Monticello-based houseboat manufacturer Stardust Cruisers.
A rendering of the energy-efficient homes being built by Monticello-based houseboat manufacturer Stardust Cruisers.

Work is now under way on the next phase of the energyefficient Green Valley development in Whitley County that will include 13 Houseboat to Energy Efficient Residences (HBEER) units built by Stardust Cruisers of Monticello, Ky.

HBEER is a partnership among Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp., the University of Kentucky and Stardust Cruisers to create energy-efficient manufactured housing at the region’s houseboat plants. The project’s goals are to create green jobs, revive the houseboat industry, utilize Kentucky products and provide energy-efficient housing.

With solar power being sold back to the TVA grid, estimated energy costs at current rates are expected to be less than $1.75 per day for HBEER units — which is one-half to one-sixth of energy bills for other housing alternatives. In addition, more than 80 percent of the home value will be derived from products made in Kentucky and Kentucky labor.

The units being built in Whitley County are being funded through a $1 million community development block grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“The Houseboat to Energy Efficient Homes program has not only provided homes with lower utility bills to our residents, but has played a part in saving one of the region’s largest industries,” said Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr.

ERLANGER: Toyota announces plans to close Ky. HQ, will consolidate corporate operations in texas

Toyota announced in late April that it will move its manufacturing headquarters operations in Erlanger to Texas as part of plans to consolidate its three separate North American headquarters for manufacturing, sales and marketing, and corporate operations into a single location.

Toyota is establishing a new headquarters in North Dallas (Plano), Texas, for its North American operations. Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA) in Erlanger, Ky., will move to the new headquarters.
Toyota is establishing a new headquarters in North Dallas (Plano), Texas, for its North American operations. Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA) in Erlanger, Ky., will move to the new headquarters.

Over the next three years, the company will transition approximately 1,000 administrative employees from the Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America Inc. (TEMA) headquarters in Erlanger; 2,000 employees from Toyota Motor Sales USA in Torrance, Calif.; and certain employees at Toyota Motor North America in New York to a new campus being built in Plano, Texas.

As part of the restructuring, 300 production engineering positions in Erlanger will be relocated to the Toyota plant in Georgetown, with another 250 direct procurement positions being moved from Erlanger to the Toyota Technical Center in York Township, Mich.

The company said none of its 10 U.S. manufacturing locations would be affected by the changes. With the addition of 750 new jobs being added at the Toyota plant in Georgetown to support production of the Lexus ES 350, Toyota will have approximately 8,200 employees in Kentucky after the TEMA move.

In a letter to Gov. Steve Beshear, Toyota officials emphasized that the transition will not take place for another two to three years so that both employees and the communities affected will have the time to ensure a smooth transition.

GLASGOW: New System will produce electricity by using landfill gas

A new system being built at the Glasgow Regional Landfill will capture methane gas from deteriorating refuse and turn it into viable electricity for both public and private consumption.

“This effort is the ultimate recycling project—using science and innovation to literally turn trash in to energy,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “Thanks to the vision and creativity of both the public and private partners in this project, the city of Glasgow will have a renewable energy source, save local tax dollars and reduce their carbon footprint on the planet.”

The city of Glasgow has worked with Farmers Rural Electric (FRECC) and East Kentucky Power over the past two years to design and implement Glasgow’s Methane Gas to Energy Project.

Plans call for the Glasgow Regional Landfill to lease space to East Kentucky Power to construct a facility to house their generator. Once the new system is operational, the gas will be sold to East Kentucky Power for conversion to electricity, putting the energy onto the local FRECC power grid.
Proceeds from the sale of the methane to East Kentucky Power will pay back a $1 million no-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture project and will ultimately create positive cash flow for the city and the landfill operation.

The new methane gas recovery system will also provide emergency backup service to the city-owned wastewater treatment plant. The city’s cost-savings to avoid buying a new generator for the plant is $400,000.

Business briefs


Frost-Arnett, an accounts receivable company that specializes in office solutions for the healthcare industry, is expanding its operations in Taylor County, where it has operated since 1999. The company is investing $620,000 to add 2,000 s.f. to its 10,000-s.f. call center in Campbellsville and plans to add 70 full-time positions to its existing 115-member staff.


Thomas More College has added a new marine biology program, making it the only institution in the commonwealth to offer such a degree. The program will be available beginning this coming fall. In addition, the college is working on a new requirement for all students to participate in internships/co-ops. Businesses interested in becoming involved with the initiative should contact Julie Mueller in the Career Planning Center at (859) 344-3386. 


First Financial Service Corp., the holding company for First Federal Savings Bank of Elizabethtown, has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Community Bank Shares of Indiana Inc., the holding company for Your Community Bank and The Scott County State Bank. Upon completion of the transaction, which is valued at $17.9 million, First Federal Savings of Elizabethtown will be merged into Your Community Bank. The merger will give CBIN a total of approximately $1.6 billion in assets and 41 branch offices throughout southeastern Indiana and Kentucky. The transaction is expected to close in the third or fourth quarter of this year.


HORAN, a Cincinnati-based company that specializes in employee benefits and financial services, has announced plans to open a regional office in Fort Mitchell. HORAN currently serves clients in more than 40 states. In addition to its Cincinnati headquarters, the company also has an office in Dayton, Ohio.


The board of trustees of Muhlenberg Community Hospital has voted in favor of having Owensboro Health provide management services to the hospital.  “To be successful in the future, to offer the kind of high-quality services that patients expect, to expand access to wellness and education, community-based hospitals like Muhlenberg will not go it alone. They will look for strong regional partners and work together to solve the health challenges we face. Cooperation will be the key to success in the future,” said David Jernigan, chairman of the board for MCH. MCH, a 135-bed acute-care facility, has a staff of more than 450 and has five physician practices. Owensboro Health is a nonprofit healthcare system that includes a 477-bed acute-care hospital, a medical group, numerous clinics and diagnostics centers, wound healing centers, a cancer center, home care services and a medical-based fitness center.


Wild Turkey Distillery held a grand opening celebration on April 15 for its new 9,000-s.f. visitor center, capping off a $100 million-plus investment by distillery owner Gruppo Campari to modernize and expand the distillery experience. “Last year, our visitor center was housed in a tiny 1,000-square-foot house from the 1800s and we still saw a 16 percent spike in visitors to Wild Turkey Hill,” said Jean-Jacques Dubau, president and CEO of Campari America. “With our gleaming, new architectural masterpiece, we finally have a visitor center worthy of Wild Turkey’s legacy, as well as an outstanding calling card for Kentucky’s bourbon industry.”


♦ The University of Kentucky has received a $7 million combined gift commitment from Lexington businesswoman Joan D. Kincaid and Central Bank that will fund two campus improvement projects. The money will fund a new auditorium in the Gatton College of Business and Economics as part of its building redesign and expansion, as well as a project in the A.B. Chandler Hospital that has not yet been determined. The new auditorium will be named to recognize the Kincaid family and Central Bank and will honor Joan D. Kincaid and her late sister Jane W. Kincaid, both of whom graduated from the college in 1963 and are members of the college’s Hall of Fame. The hospital initiative also will be named in recognition of members of the Kincaid family and Central Bank.

♦ Lexington-based Tempur Sealy International Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the Sealy brand rights in Japan and certain assets from its former licensee. “New market expansion is one of our four key strategic growth initiatives and is also an important driver in our long-term international revenue synergies targets,” said Tempur Sealy CEO Mark Sarvary. “The acquisition of Sealy brand rights in Japan is the first transaction whereby we have regained rights from a Sealy licensee arrangement. Japan has been an important market for our company for a long time and we are excited at the prospects of further increasing our penetration and market share with a strengthened brand and product offering.”

♦ Transylvania University dedicated its new athletics complex on April 26, a $10 million facility that will serve as home to the university’s field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and track and field teams. The complex is within walking distance of the university’s dorms and is situated in an area that is part of a wider revitalization effort in downtown Lexington that is bringing new restaurants and entertainment venues as well as infrastructure improvements. The complex features an 860-seat grandstand, an eight-lane track and an artificial turf field with lights for night games.


♦ Texas-based MedSynergies Inc. is establishing a physician billing service center in downtown Louisville to serve physicians at KentuckyOne Health. In establishing the service center, 150 KentuckyOne Health employees will transition to MedSynergies beginning this summer. MedSyngergies, which currently serves more than 9,300 providers across the United States, will provide revenue-cycle management, practice management and analytics, human resources and patient outreach, among other functions.

♦ Louisville-based Steel Technologies has acquired Stripco, an Indiana-based value-added steel processor. Formed in 1984, Stripco has continued to expand its value-added processes, which include pickling, slitting, cold rolling, annealing, oscillating and edging. The company was the first in the U.S. to install the Eco Pickling System, an environmentally friendly and superior quality pickle line that produces a clean, consistent surface. Stripco processes and ships over 100,000 tons with revenue exceeding $100 million annually. The Stripco acquisition will expand Steel Technologies’ North American platform to 25 facilities, including joint-venture operations, located throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

♦ Affiliated Managers Group Inc., a Boston global asset management company, has reached a definitive agreement with Aviva Investors North America Holdings Inc. to acquire all of Aviva’s equity interest in Louisville-based River Road Asset Management Inc. River Road has a team of 16 investment professionals and has approximately $11 billion in assets under management. AMG Funds, the company’s U.S. retail platform, has approximately $80 billion in assets under management and administration. River Road’s executive team and key investment professionals have agreed to long-term commitments to remain with the firm.

♦ Ingersoll Rand has acquired Fellon-McCord & Associates LLC, a Louisville energy supply management services company. Fellon-McCord will become part of the Trane commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning business, an Ingersoll Rand subsidiary headquartered in North Carolina, but will continue to operate as Fellon-McCord and will remain in Louisville with its existing staff. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.


Mid-Continent University, a private nonprofit institution affiliated with the Baptist church, announced in mid-April that financial issues stemming from financial aid issues with the U.S. Department of Education were forcing it to immediately lay off all faculty and staff. Interim President Tom Walden told the West Kentucky Star newspaper that many of the university’s faculty and staff had volunteered to continue teaching classes so that the school’s 900 students – 300 on campus and approximately 600 online/off campus – could complete the semester and graduate as scheduled on May 10. The university, which first opened in 1949, said it will completely close effective June 30.


Owensboro Health Regional Hospital and the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy have announced a new partnership to create a pharmacy residency program that will be based in Owensboro. Residents will participate in the college’s nationally recognized Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Program and will be able to collaborate on research projects with UK College of Pharmacy faculty. The residents also will have the opportunity to teach and mentor fourth-year College of Pharmacy students participating in the Owensboro-Greater Daviess County Clinical Education Center, which is also based out of Owensboro Health Regional Hospital. The program represents the first such off-campus affiliation with the college.


♦ Pikeville-based Community Trust Bancorp Inc. has been recognized by Forbes magazine as one of “America’s 50 Most Trustworthy Financial Companies,” ranking first in the “small cap” category ($250 million to $1 billion). The Forbes list is based on proprietary ratings provider and investment advisor GMI Ratings and includes publicly traded North American bank and insurance companies. GMI reviewed the accounting and governance behaviors of more than 8,000 publicly traded companies in North America, assessing factors such as high-risk events, revenue and expense recognition methods, Security and Exchange Commission actions and bankruptcy risk as indicators of a company’s credibility.

♦ Pikeville Medical Center has opened a new 11-story clinic that houses physician offices, exam rooms, operating rooms and endoscopy suites, as well as space for future growth. The new clinic is attached to every floor of the hospital’s May Tower, enabling easier access between inpatient and outpatient areas.


State and local officials gathered in Russell Springs on April 16 to celebrate the opening of Dr. Schneider Automotive Systems Inc. and the creation of 155 new jobs. The Germany-based automotive supplier began renovating the former Hitachi Cable building in Russell Springs in the fall of 2013, investing $29 million in the project. The 64,000-s.f. facility will manufacture parts for companies such as Ford, BMW, Mercedes and Audi, among others.


Custom Cooler, a company that manufactures custom walk-in coolers, freezers and freezer doors for the food industry, plans to establish a manufacturing plant in Todd County that will create 75 new jobs. The 117,000-s.f. facility will be the California-based company’s second manufacturing plant and will serve customers throughout the eastern and central United States and internationally.


McCreary Bancshares Inc. has merged its two subsidiary banks, Bank of McCreary County of Whitley City and First Trust and Savings Bank of Oneida, Tenn. The newly merged bank has changed its name to United Cumberland Bank and will be headquartered in Whitley City. With the two banks’ assets blended, United Cumberland Bank now manages total assets of approximately $285 million and will serve locations from Whitley City and Pine Knot, Ky., to Oneida, Huntsville and Jacksboro, Tenn.


Asbury University dedicated a new business school in late March, named in honor of Howard Dayton, the founder of Crown Financial Ministries.  The university said the Howard Dayton School of Business will be built on a foundation of biblical values regarding money and industry; will focus on a “triple bottom-line” of profit, social impact and spiritual influence; offer mentoring and internship opportunities for each business student; and provide a curriculum that integrates the real-time experiences of working business leaders.


East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) has announced plans to deactivate its Dale Station in southern Clark County over the next year, indefinitely ceasing operations of the power plant by April 2015. EKPC COO Don Mosier said Dale Station’s four coal-fueled units do not currently meet the provisions of the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule, which goes into effect in April 2015, and compliance with the rule would require cost-prohibitive measures. Dale Station is EKPC’s oldest power plant and accounts for 6 percent of its total generating capacity. Most of Dale Station’s employees have been moved to positions at other plants over the past year.


♦ Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is encouraging eligible Kentucky entities to apply for funding from the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, noting that “this sector of Kentucky agriculture has enormous potential for growth.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines “specialty crops” as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops. Successful applicants may be awarded up to $50,000. For more information, including a downloadable application, visit kyagr.com/marketing/crop-block-grant.html. Applications must be submitted by close of business June 2. Applications sent by mail must be postmarked no later than May 31.

♦ After seeing record earnings in 2013, Central Kentucky Ag Credit is distributing more than $2.9 million to borrowers through 17 central Kentucky counties. Ag Credit President and CEO Jim Caldwell said the earnings success for 2013 was a combination of a favorable interest rate environment and controlled operating expenses. More than 2,000 Ag Credit member-borrowers will benefit from the distribution, with an average distribution of more than $1,400 paid to each member-borrower.

♦ Kentucky experienced 31 snow and ice events this winter that resulted in high demand for salt and equipment to keep the roadways clear. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spent more than $68 million on snow and ice removal – about $26 million more than last winter – and spread more than 438,000 tons of salt, compared to 194,000 tons last year.

♦ Kentucky’s health insurance companies have been granted the option to extend policies not compliant under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the Oct. 1, 2016, renewal. As a result, some consumers can continue such policies until Oct. 1, 2017. The announcement represents the second “transitional relief” option offered to states by the federal government. The earlier one came in November 2013 and offered a one-year extension of existing policies; the most recent adds two more years. Transitional (non-ACA compliant) policies are not required to comply with various provisions of the ACA, including essential health benefits. Insurance companies will be given the option to extend the relief to those in the individual and small group markets. It does not affect “grandfathered” plans (those in existence prior to March 23, 2010) or newly issued policies.