■ Covington-based Ashland Inc. will eliminate 800 jobs by the end of the year as the company continues its global restructuring plan to reduce costs. The job cuts, which represent approximately 9 percent of the company’s total workforce, will be achieved through both a voluntary severance program and job elimination. The company is also continuing to develop plans for “substantially reducing certain external support services” and moving “a significant number of jobs” to existing “low-cost regional centers,” some of which will likely be outside the United States. Ashland currently has approximately 15,000 employees worldwide, including some 75 workers at its Covington headquarters and 700 workers in Lexington.
■ An anonymous benefactor has donated $4 million to Thomas More College, a gift that is the largest in the school’s 93-year history. The donation will primarily be used to create the Benedictine Endowment of the Thomas More Success Center, which will focus on student retention, graduation and career placement.
■ Farmers Capital Bank Corp. has completed the redemption of 10,000 shares of stock, which equates to one-third of its outstanding Series A preferred stock, for a total of $10.2 million. Farmers Capital President and CEO Lloyd C. Hillard Jr. said the redemption “demonstrates the steady progress we’ve made to solidify the company’s overall financial condition.” Farmers Capital is a Frankfort-based bank holding company that operates 36 banking locations in 23 communities throughout Central and Northern Kentucky, a data processing company and an insurance company.
■ Celanese Corp., a Fortune 500 technology and specialty materials company, is expanding its manufacturing capabilities in Florence, investing $20 million in a new 25,000-s.f. manufacturing and technology hub for its engineered materials business. Celanese’s products include automotive, medical and industrial applications, among others. The Florence facility currently employs 350 employees and will add another 10 positions as part of the planned expansion.
■ As part of an effort to curtail its budget deficit and streamline operations, Georgetown College is discontinuing French, German, computer science and music majors and will reduce its faculty and staff by 20 percent by July 2015. Georgetown College President Dwaine Greene said the programs being eliminated had low enrollment and that it is more prudent to use the college’s resources for programs with more growth potential, such as its new majors in social and criminal justice and sports management.
■ Delta Private Jets, a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, has opened a new 40,000-s.f. maintenance, repair and overhaul facility at its headquarters at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. The Delta Private Jets Tech Service Center provides private jet owners and operators with a one-stop facility that can service a broad range of aircraft. The company also has a mobile tech services team that is available 24/7 and can be dispatched to locations across the world.
■ Wayfair, an online home furnishings retailer, has signed a lease for the entire 525,000-s.f. space in Hebron that was previously used as a distribution center for Gap, according to a report by the Cincinnati Business Courier. Wayfair began its Northern Kentucky operations in 2011, initially leasing 150,000 s.f. of space. Since then, however, the Boston-based company’s sales have skyrocketed, hitting $915 million last year, up 55 percent over the previous year. Wayfair currently has approximately 120 employees in Northern Kentucky and expects to add 40 to 50 more by the end of the year.
■ Frontier Airlines has announced that it will begin flying between the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) and Washington Dulles International Airport beginning Sept. 8. The low-fare carrier will be offering the service four times a week (Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays), utilizing the 168-seat Airbus 320 aircraft. The new route represents Frontier’s third expansion since beginning service out of CVG just over a year ago. The airline also flies from CVG to Denver and Trenton, N.J.
■ The Kentucky Public Service Commission has adjusted the revenue and rates of Henderson-based Big Rivers Electric Corp. to reflect the January departure of the Century Aluminum smelter in Sebree from the Big Rivers system. The rates for the remaining customers will increase, although not by as much as the utility requested and customers will not feel the effect of the rate increases until next year. The PSC agreed to let Big Rivers use reserve funds to fully offset the increases for as long as possible. Once the reserve funds are exhausted, residential customers will see monthly bills increase by about $15 on average. Century Aluminum’s Sebree smelter stopped purchasing power from Big Rivers on Jan. 31, the effective date of a contract allowing it to buy power on the open market.
■ Creative Lodging Solutions, a national travel company headquartered in Lexington, has announced plans to move to a larger facility in Lexington and expects to double its 134-member workforce over the next four years. The company is investing $5.5 million to move from an 18,000-s.f. facility to a 60,000-s.f. facility in the city’s Beaumont area that previously housed a Kroger supermarket. Founded in 2002, CLS provides customized lodging programs for corporate clients nationwide, specializing in long-term and project-based stays for business travel. The company was recognized as one of the top private job creators in America in 2012 by Inc. Magazine’s Hire Power Awards and has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of the most entrepreneurial and fastest-growing companies in America the past four years.
■ Lexington-based bedding company Tempur Sealy International Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the Sealy brand rights in continental Europe (excluding the UK) from its former licensee. Tempur Sealy CEO Mark Sarvary said the acquisition “represents a significant long-term growth opportunity” that will further increase the company’s European presence.
■ The Kentucky Labor Cabinet has contracted with Skanska USA and Congelton-Hacker Co. for the renovation of the University of Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium. The $110 million project is scheduled to be complete in fall 2015, in time for the start of UK’s home football season. The renovation, which is already underway, will include the addition of luxury suites, loge boxes and club seats at the field and mezzanine levels.
■ Meridian-Chiles, one of Lexington’s most prominent advertising and public relations firms, has closed its doors after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. The company owes creditors more than $5.1 million and has assets of about $675,000, according to the petition filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s Eastern District of Kentucky under the name of Jordan-Chiles Inc. Larry Chiles and Jim Jordan founded the Jordan-Chiles agency in 1988 and merged with Meridian Communications in 2012 to form Meridian-Chiles.
■ Graves Cox & Co., a men’s apparel company that has been a Lexington institution since 1888, is closing this month. Leonard Cox, who is the third generation of his family to operate the store, said changes in both men’s fashion and the retail environment have affected the store’s business model.
■ Fazoli’s, a Lexington-based quick-service Italian restaurant chain, plans to open its first on-campus unit at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. The new location is part of Fazoli’s strategic plan to grow through non-traditional locations. The company – which was selected by two Texas Tech student focus groups as the No. 1 choice of brands they wanted on campus – plans to continue seeking opportunities with other colleges and universities around the country. The company’s president and CEO, Carl Howard, was recently named the No. 1 restaurant executive on FastCasual.com’s 2014 list of the Top 100 Movers & Shakers for his contribution to the evolution and health of the fast casual dining segment.
■ The University of Kentucky Gatton College of Business and Economics’ professional evening MBA programs are now offering certifications in Project Management, Global Management and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. The certifications were previously offered only as part of Gatton’s accelerated one-year MBA program. Applications for the professional evening MBA are being accepted until July 1, with classes in both the two-year and three-year evening options beginning in late August. For more information, visit gatton.uky.edu.
■ Lexington and Louisville are two of 15 cities selected by Amazon.com Inc. to now be eligible for Sunday package deliveries. The company began testing Sunday deliveries last November in Los Angeles and New York. Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service plan to continue to roll out Sunday delivery to a large portion of the U.S. population this year.
■ The contractual agreement and business relationship between Louisville Metro Government and Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI) will end effective July 1. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has announced a new economic strategy for the city – called Louisville Forward – that combines into one entity all of the city agencies dedicated to business development. The city will now be responsible for the daily work of business attraction and expansion, but will continue to pay GLI for services related to market and industry research. The change will result in six positions being eliminated at GLI.
■ Louisville-based Kindred Healthcare Inc. has signed an agreement to become a strategic partner and owner in the Silver State Accountable Care Organization in Las Vegas. Silver State, which was formed in 2013 and approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as a 2014 “shared savings” accountable care organization to serve the Medicare fee-for-service patients in southern Nevada, will partner with Kindred’s Care Management Division to improve care transitions and improve patient outcomes. Las Vegas is one of Kindred’s “integrated care markets,” which are designed to offer a continuum of care.
■ In Every Language, a global translation provider, is relocating its headquarters from Louisville to Washington, D.C., which will place the company closer to a larger international business community and three international airports. CEO Terena Bell said the company will continue to work with approximately 20 interpreters in Greater Louisville and 10 more in the Bowling Green, Hopkinsville and Northern Kentucky area. Founded in 2005, In Every Language provides translations and interpreting in more than 180 languages and has a team of more than 1,200 translators and interpreters.
■ Firstsource Group USA plans to open a 44,000-s.f. call center in Louisville that will create 300 full-time jobs. The center will provide management solutions to telecommunications and media companies. Firstsource currently has two other call centers in Louisville that employ a total of around 200.
■ Galen College of Nursing, a multicampus and online educational institution based in Louisville, has launched a new “online RN to BSN” degree program designed to help new and working nurses advance their education to meet the evolving demands in the healthcare field. The 16-month program will also allow nurses to purse specialization areas such as management and leadership.
■ Louisville-based insurance company Neace Lukens has changed its name to Assured Neace Lukens, reflective of its connection with parent company AssuredPartners Inc. Company President Larry Schaefer said that while the name, logo and brand are changing, clients will continue to work with the same agents and the company will continue to offer the same insurance products. Neace Lukens was acquired by Florida-based AssuredPartners in 2011.
■ Kentucky American Water Co. has signed an agreement to purchase the water and wastewater assets of the City of Millersburg and to assume providing water and wastewater services to the Bourbon County community once the transaction is completed later this year. The Millersburg water system currently provides service to approximately 500 customers in Millersburg as well as wholesale water service to the Harrison County Water Association and the Nicholas County Water District. Millersburg Mayor Nathan Zingg said the efficiencies of scale offered by Kentucky American will benefit citizens through lower rates and higher water quality.
■ The Nicholas County Hospital in Carlisle has closed and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. All 84 employees of the 18-bed hospital – 44 full-time and 40 part-time – have been laid off. In a statement released by the hospital, the hospital board said the closing was a result of a national transition to larger, urban-centered hospitals that has forced many rural health centers to close.
■ The (Hardin County) News-Enterprise reports that media statistics company Nielsen is closing its call center in Radcliff at the end of July. The closing, which the company says is part of the company’s reorganization and integration with Nielsen Audio, will eliminate 237 jobs. Nielsen has operated the Radcliff center since 1997.
■ Hart AgStrong LLC is investing $7.3 million to build a canola oilseed processing plant that will create 25 full-time jobs for Todd County. The company plans to construct a 23,000-s.f. facility in Trenton this fall that will initially have the capacity to crush and process 150 tons of canola oilseeds per day; a second phase of the project will include increasing the plant’s crushing capacity and the construction of a vegetable oil refining plant. Hart AgStrong built its first canola operation in Georgia in 2009 and is building the new facility to be closer to canola seed farmers in Western Kentucky.
■ Clark and Rowan counties have been certified as Kentucky Work Ready Communities, a designation that assures employers that a local workforce has the talent and skills necessary to staff existing jobs and the ability to master the innovative technologies new jobs will require. To become certified, counties have to meet criteria in six areas including high school graduation rate, National Career Readiness Certificate holders, demonstrated community commitment, educational attainment, soft-skills development and digital literacy. In addition to Clark and Rowan, the counties of Boyle, Daviess, Henderson, Madison, Oldham, Shelby, Warren and Woodford have been designated as Kentucky Work Ready Communities since certification began in February 2012. Counties that achieve Kentucky Work Ready status must be recertified every two years.