Home » Business Briefs: June 2015

Business Briefs: June 2015

By The Lane Report staff


Union College has made permanent a program it launched three years ago to offer free tuition for its most dedicated students. All incoming first-time freshmen are eligible for the UGrad program, but must participate in class events; maintain good academic standing; participate in one or more campus organizations; complete community service, be enrolled full-time each term and qualify to walk at commencement within four years.  Students who meet the criteria and have a GPA of 3.5 or above qualify a 100 percent tuition waiver. Students with a GPA of 3.0 to 3.49 will gain a 75 percent waiver and students with a GPA of 2.5 to 2.9 will gain a 50 percent waiver.


The Bardstown Bourbon Co. and Mahalo Spirts Group, a branding sales and marketing company, have partnered to open a new distillery now under construction just off the Bluegrass Parkway in Bardstown. The 37,000-s.f. distillery is slated to open by summer 2016 and will feature a custom-built Vendome still, educational experiences, tours and tastings, an integrated visitors center and event space. Plans call for the site to eventually include a restaurant and boutique hotel.


n A 30-acre industrial site in Beaver Dam’s Bluegrass Crossings Business Center has been certified as Kentucky’s fifth Build-Ready site. The Build-Ready designation provides site selectors the assurance that much of the site work on a property – such as ground/soil/environmental studies, preliminary design work, site plan permits, and utility and transportation infrastructure – is already in place, streamlining the process of getting a building project to completion.


The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science, a residential program for gifted Kentucky high school students, has received a financial gift from its namesake to expand housing at the school, which is located on the campus of Western Kentucky University. The renovation of Florence Schneider Hall will allow The Gatton Academy to grow from 120 students to 200.

EVINE Live, an electronic shopping company formerly known as ShopHQ, has invested $25 million to expand its warehouse and call center operations in Bowling Green. The company is hiring up to 150 more employees to support the expansion project, which included adding 300,000 s.f. and installing a new warehouse management system to improve ordering and shipping processes. EVINE Live is a digital commerce company available in more than 88 million U.S. homes. The Bowling Green facility opened in 1997 and currently employs more than 300 full-time workers.


Gateway Community and Technical College and the Northern Kentucky Chapter of the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (KYFAME) have announced a new partnership to produced a workforce of skilled manufacturing technicians in Northern Kentucky. Under the new advanced manufacturing technician (AMT) program, students will earn an associate of applied science degree while preparing for a career as a skilled manufacturing technician. “This is a win-win,” said Gateway President/CEO Ed Hughes. “Students learn in the classroom and on the job, while earning income and graduating debt free. Manufacturers get educated, high-quality employees with local ties.”


The Beaumont Inn has received the James Beard Foundation 2015 America’s Classic Award. The May 7 awards ceremony in Chicago recognized the best chefs and restaurants across the country.


The Northern Kentucky University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is collaborating with Connectic Ventures to help further enhance the entrepreneurial education of NKU business students. Connectic Ventures is a Kentucky-based venture capital angel investment firm that specializes in startups and early-state investments. Connectic Ventures members will serve as adjunct professors and guest lecturers to offer mentoring, career advice and internship opportunities, and work with student and faculty research projects.


The Red Mile upgrades cost nearly $2 million.

Beginning in July, Keeneland is moving its year-round simulcast wagering operations to The Red Mile, a historic Standardbred track in Lexington. The two tracks are investing nearly $2 million to upgrade the grandstand area of The Red Mile for simulcast patrons. Simulcast wagering will continue to be offered at Keeneland during the track’s spring and fall race meets and annual Thoroughbred auctions and for special-event days such as the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. A total of 1,000 historical racing machines will be housed in a new facility at The Red Mile scheduled to open in September.

The University of Kentucky is now offering an undergraduate certification program to prepare students for employment in the rapidly growing wine, beer and distilled spirits industries. Since 2012, the industry has nearly doubled its workforce, tripled the number of distilleries and set major new benchmarks in payroll, exports and production, according to an economic impact study released in October by the University of Louisville’s Urban Studies Institute.

Amazon is adding 100 full-time positions at its fulfillment centers in Lexington to help meeting growing customer demand. Amazon currently has more than 7,000 full-time employees across the state and is investing $25 million over the next two years to support new technologies and associate amenities at its facilities statewide.

Bluegrass Family Health – the insurance arm of Baptist Health – is changing its name to Baptist Health Plan in order to be more readily identified with its Louisville-based parent organization. Bluegrass Family Health has offered insurance through area employers for more than 20 years and now has nearly 80,000 members in Kentucky and parts of adjoining states.

The Alltech Brewing and Distilling Academy offers a variety of courses, ranging from a weekend course for homebrewers to two-week courses for experienced technologists working in commercial settings.

Nicholasville-based Alltech has opened a new brewing and distilling academy in Lexington that is the first of its kind in a state where bourbon and spirits industry have become a $30 million industry. The Alltech Brewing and Distilling Academy offers a variety of courses, ranging from a weekend course for homebrewers to two-week courses for experienced technologists working in commercial settings. Though some of the courses cover legal and regulatory issues, brand development, marketing and business management, much of the learning is hands-on and teaches participants how to make fermentations, examine forms of yeast under the microscope and work on a bottling line.

Following a corporate governance challenge from a shareholders group led by hedge fund company H Partners, Tempur Sealy CEO Mark A. Sarvary resigned on May 12, along with Tempur Sealy Board Chairman P. Andrews McLane and the head of the board’s corporate governance committee, Christopher A. Masto. Usman Nabi, a senior partner with H Partners, has been named to the board and will oversee the company’s search for a new CEO. In the meantime, Tempur Sealy COO Timothy Yaggi will serve as interim CEO. The company’s stock price was virtually unaffected in the days surrounding the news, although trading volume was up significantly.


Donan Engineering plans to move its offices from Jeffersontown to a new 38,400-s.f. office building being built in Blankenbaker Station II, on Louisville’s east side. The forensic engineering company currently has 62 employees and has outgrown its existing 12,000-s.f. space. The new facility is expected to be complete in about year.

Charah Inc., a Louisville-based company that provides solutions and services for the coal-fired electric utility industry, has opened a regional headquarters office in Charlotte, N.C. The Charlotte location will service the company’s Southern and Mid-Atlantic regions, providing regional management, business development, engineering, environmental services, transportation and logistics, project/process management and business services.

Louisville-based Kindred Healthcare Inc. has entered into an affiliation agreement with Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo., and Shepherd Center in Atlanta to pursue new neuro-rehabilitation models. Craig Hospital and Shepherd Center offer specialized long-term acute care and rehab services for people who have sustained catastrophic spinal cord injury, brain injury or other neuromuscular injuries or illnesses. The three parties plan to expand access to high-quality, innovative medical and specialty rehab care. Kindred provides healthcare services in nearly 2,900 locations across 47 states.

HealthcareFirst, a company that provides software technology to home healthcare and hospice agencies, has acquired Louisville-based Deyta LLC for an undisclosed amount. Deyta is a recognized leader in satisfaction and clinical quality measurement for home health and hospice. Deyta will retain its name and Louisville office and will operate as a separate business line of HealthcareFirst.

Louisville-based Copper & Kings American Brandy Co. has launched its American Brandy and absinthe spirits in seven new states – Arkansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas – bringing the total to 15 distribution markets. Copper & Kings is also available in Kentucky, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin. The Louisville distillery, located in the city’s Butchertown neighborhood, began selling aged and immature brandy in June 2014. The company has 1,800 gallons of distilling capacity and production capacity planned at 200,000 cases.


Midway College – which will be known as Midway University beginning July 1 – is adding a number of new specializations under its existing master of business administration program. The new areas of concentration include equine studies, healthcare administration and sports management. The college is also adding a bachelor’s degree in psychology with an area of concentration in alcohol and drug abuse counseling.


A group of 60 Kentucky students has been selected for the inaugural class of the Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics, a new program housed at Morehead State University that is designed to meet the educational needs of academically gifted and talented high school juniors and seniors. The college-level curriculum will allow the students to finish high school while also completing up to two years of university coursework. The students will live on campus in a newly renovated residence hall designed for high school-aged students.

St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead has joined the Markey Cancer Center Research Network, a new initiative launched by the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center to conduct cancer research through a network of collaborative centers. As a result, patients in Eastern Kentucky will have access to clinical research studies in the treatment of cancer as well as research studies that focus on the prevention and early detection of cancer. Appalachia has some of the highest rates of cancer incidence and mortality in the country, especially for lung, colorectal and cervical cancers.


An estimated 1,300 people joined federal, state and local leaders for the second Shaping Our Appalachian Region Strategy Summit held in Pikeville on May 11. The goal of the summit was to develop and implement strategies for regional growth and development, using goals outlined in SOAR’s first year. Since SOAR launched in 2013, two major infrastructure improvements have begun: the long-awaited four-laning of the Mountain Parkway, and the construction of a statewide broadband network. Eastern Kentucky will be the first priority region for the broadband project.


Halton Group, a Finland-based company that produces industrial ventilation systems, is investing $3.7 million in a major expansion of its North American headquarters in Scottsville. Halton Group located in Kentucky in 1989 and now employs 180 people between its manufacturing facility in Scottsville and its North American headquarters, which is currently located in the small-business accelerator at Western Kentucky University. The company is now planning to move out of the incubator and build its own headquarters building next to the manufacturing plant, along with a new research and development facility. Construction on the headquarters and R&D center will begin this summer and is expected to be operational early next year.


KentuckyOne Health has upgraded its KentuckyOne Anywhere Care virtual care service to make it easier for patients to access round-the-clock healthcare access by offering a new embedded video option that connects patients directly to providers without the need for outside video chat services such as Skype. Anywhere Care providers can treat common conditions like colds and flu, sore throats, rashes, allergies and bladder infections and can prescribe medications, recommend an over-the-counter medication or provide home care options. Anywhere Care costs $35 per visit and is paid by the patient, whether or not they are covered by insurance.

The Kentucky Primary Care Association (KPCA), a private nonprofit corporation of primary care centers and clinics, and UK HealthCare have formed a partnership aimed at providing more than 800 patient care providers access to UK HealthCare support services such as supply chain contracts, medical professional placement services, practice transformation support/training and an after-hours pediatric call triage center. The partnership provides KPCA members access to services at heavily discounted rates or at no charge to the facilities.

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education has approved a 2.9 percent tuition increase at Eastern Kentucky University and Murray State University, a 3 percent increase at UK and a 3.1 percent increase at Northern Kentucky University. Last year’s rate increases ranged from 4.7 to 5.1 percent. All rates comply with the council’s two-year tuition and mandatory fee ceilings set last year to balance the competing priorities of affordability and access for Kentucky students and their families with the resource needs of the postsecondary institutions given the impact of state budget cuts since 2007-08.

Members of the Kentucky Proud program say they’ve seen positive results in the first six months of the partnership between Kroger supermarkets and the state’s official farm marketing program. “The Kentucky Proud products have exceeded our expectations in terms of sales results and customer response,” said Tim McGurk, public affairs manager for Kroger’s Louisville division. “They are clearly top-quality items and represent some of the best locally produced products available anywhere. We look forward to seeing this program expanded further.” Kroger currently sells 125 Kentucky Proud products in 88 stores throughout the state.

The Kentucky attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit in federal court on May 12 against Marathon Petroleum Corp., alleging that Marathon engages in anti-competitive practices that have led to higher gas prices for Kentucky consumers. According to the complaint, Conway’s office believes Marathon violated state and federal antitrust laws by abusing the monopoly created when Marathon and Ashland Oil merged in 1998. Marathon owns and operates the only refinery in Kentucky.

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