Home » Business Briefs: August 2015

Business Briefs: August 2015

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Bloomfield Farms has introduced a new line of products that include an allergen-free baking mix and pre-baked buns, rolls and sandwich bread. Bloomfield Farms’ 15,000-s.f. plant in Bardstown has been tested and certified as gluten-free and the new products are part of a patent-pending line that eliminates the top eight allergens: gluten, eggs, dairy, fish, peanuts, soy, shellfish and tree nuts. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 1 in 20 children under five and almost 1 in 25 adults are allergic to at least one food. Bloomfield Farms is a division of Blend-Pak, a Bloomfield, Ky.-based company that specializes in dry mixes and meat processing.



AT&T has donated $15,500 to Baptist Health Corbin for the purchase of a telemedicine cart that enables the hospital to extend mental health services to surrounding hospitals and clinics. The telemedicine program, which launches this month, will provide mental health services to those in Eastern Kentucky through Knox County Hospital, Pineville Community Hospital and Baptist Health Richmond as well as primary care clinics in Williamsburg and London, reaching approximately 5,000 people. The program will utilize a total of four telemedicine carts – with video and audio capabilities much like Skype – installed at those locations so patients can have a private conference with a mental health expert. Baptist Health Corbin will be the hub and be able to offer mental health services to patients who could not otherwise access such services.



Ashland Specialty Ingredients, a commercial unit of Covington-based Ashland Inc. and a leader in the production of biofunctional ingredients, is acquiring the Zeta Fraction biofunctional technology from AkzoNobel. The patented Zeta Fraction process and technology selectively isolates efficacious components from living plants and marine sources to produce a wide range of biofunctional ingredients. The acquisition broadens Ashland’s value-added portfolio in the personal care, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and agriculture markets. Financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

Jaden Corp. has purchased Covington-based Waddington Group, a manufacturer and marketer of premium disposable tableware, for $1.3 billion. Jarden, a Miami-based global consumer products company whose brands include Oster, Rival, Sunbeam and Mr. Coffee among dozens more, targeted the acquisition as an opportunity to cross-sell and to broaden its distribution platform in the business-to-business category. Waddington operates 17 manufacturing facilities across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland and has approximately 2,900 employees. The company is expected to contribute approximately $800 million to Jaden’s 2016 revenues.



Commercial Specialty Truck Holdings (CSTH) is investing $2 million to move its subsidiary, Continental Mixer Solutions, from Texas to Cynthiana. Continental Mixer has been in operation since 1982 and has grown to be a leading manufacturer of concrete mixers. The company is sharing a 350,000-s.f. facility that presently houses another CSTH subsidiary, E-Z Pack Refuse Hauling Solutions. E-Z Pack currently employs 100 people; relocating Continental to Cynthiana will bring another 80 jobs to the area.



Ephraim McDowell Commonwealth Cancer Center in Danville is the newest member of the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network. The network was created to provide high-quality cancer care closer to home for patients across the region, and to minimize the effects of cancer through prevention and education programs, clinical care and access to research. Markey is one of only 68 medical centers in the country to earn an NCI cancer center designation. Because of the designation, Markey patients have access to new drugs, treatment options and clinical trials offered only at NCI centers.



Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp. and Grow Appalachia have created a low-interest loan fund for farmers in a 54-county region of eastern and southern Kentucky. The SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region) Small Production loan fund will help those who operate small farms to move into commercial food production. The maximum loan amount is $7,500 with a fixed interest rate of 1 percent and no closing fees. Typically, the terms of the loan will be four years.



Farmers Capital Bank Corp. has been added to the Russell 3000 Index and the Russell 2000 Index, indexes that are used by investment managers and institutional investors for index funds and as benchmarks for both passive and active investment strategies. The Russell 3000 Index measures the performance of the largest 3,000 U.S. companies representing approximately 98 percent of the investable U.S. equity market. The Russell 2000 Index includes approximately 2,000 of the smallest securities based on a combination of their market capitalization and current index membership. Farmers is a Frankfort-based bank holding company that operates 36 banking locations in central and northern Kentucky as well as a data processing company and an insurance company.



Gourmet Express has closed its facility in Greenville, where the company produced frozen meals sold to retailers such as Walmart and Costco. The closing follows the Texas-based company’s bankruptcy filing in March and subsequent sale in June to Genesis Merchant Partners for $10.8 million. The shutdown leaves 81 people without jobs.



A number of new amenities and concessions have been added for passengers traveling through the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Concourse A is now home to a free children’s play area as well as a Smashburger location that is serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Passengers will also find six new FuelRod locations located throughout the airport. (FuelRods are reusable, portable charging systems that allow users to charge their mobile device on the go and then recharge or swap for a fresh one. The initial cost for a rechargeable FuelRod is $20; they can then be swapped for free at any of FuelRod’s other locations across the country.) The airport has also added Lyft, a mobile-phone application that facilitates ridesharing, to its ground transportation options.



Three operating affiliates of Alpha Natural Resources have notified employees that they may be selling the mining operations in Eastern Kentucky and southwest Virginia where they are employed. The mining operations in Kentucky affected by the potential sale include North Fork Coal Corp.’s North Fork No. 6 deep mine in Letcher County and the Panther No. 1, Stillhouse No. 1 and North Fork No. 7 deep mines, which are currently idled. A total of 111 employees work at the No. 6 mine or perform maintenance at the idled operations.



Upscale home-décor retailer Pottery Barn will open its first Kentucky location at the Summit at Fritz Farm, a major retail development now under construction in south Lexington. Once completed, the Summit will offer 340,000-s.f. of street-level retail and restaurant space featuring a collection of both local and national boutiques as well as 300 apartments and a 150-room boutique hotel. Other retailers already signed include Brooks Brothers, Lily Rain, Orvis, Whole Foods, Ted’s Montana Grill and Steel City Pops.

Lexington-based Tempur Sealy has partnered with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association to open a sleep center at in Park City, Utah, where the USSA will track how transformative sleep positively impacts athlete performance, recovery and overall training ability. The Center of Excellence is USSA’s national training center where world-class athletes prepare for their competition seasons. Physical conditioning is a large part of this preparation along with testing that includes elements of high-performance nutrition, psychology, physiology, injury prevention, rehab and sleep. The sleep center has been outfitted with the newest Tempur-Pedic mattress and bedding products.

Lexmark International reported a decline in revenue for the second quarter as it works to transition from a printer manufacturer to a business information company. To that end, the company is implementing a restructuring plan to increase operational efficiencies and profitability that will include eliminating 500 positions worldwide over the next 18 months. Lexmark Chairman and CEO Paul Rooke said the restructuring will be “very much focused on the software side” and will have only a “nominal” impact at the company’s Lexington headquarters. The changes from the restructuring are expected to produce $65 million in annual savings.



Louisville-based Brown-Forman Corp. is investing $50 million to build a new distillery and consumer experience at the historic Slane Castle Estate in Ireland, 30 miles north of Dublin. The company plans to have the distillery open in late 2016 and will introduce new Irish whiskeys by the spring of 2017, initially using high-quality whiskey purchased from other Irish distilleries and then finished to Slane’s specifications while the whiskey made at the new Slane Distillery is laid down to mature in the nearby Irish countryside.

Papa John’s International is spending $100 million per year to eliminate artificial ingredients, preservatives and other additives from its menu. The Louisville-based pizza chain, which has long used the slogan “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza,” already uses ingredients that are free of trans fats, partially hydrogenated oils, meat fillers and preservatives BHA and BHT. The company has also introduced a “lighter choice” menu and an online nutritional calculator that allows users to figure out the calories and other nutritional information of menu items.

KentuckianaWorks is distributing $2 million in federal funding that will go to training scholarships to help unemployed and underemployed residents in its seven-county region gain education and skills to prepare them for high-demand, higher-wage occupations such as electricians, plumbers, financial analysts, registered nurses, computer programmers and tractor-trailer truck drivers. The 50 high-demand occupations were designated by the KentuckianaWorks board based on an analysis of data from EMSI Analyst and Burning Glass/Labor Insight. Salaries for the occupations range from $12.61 an hour for installation, maintenance and repair workers to $31.17 an hour for software developers.



DDW has opened a second site in Louisville for the production of food ingredients. The new facility will produce specialty colorings for food and beverage companies utilizing its emulsion technology, which converts color sources such as beta-carotene and paprika from their intrinsic, oil-soluble form to a water-dispersible form for coloring beverages, soup, ice cream, candy, cakes and other foods.



Louisville-based Christian Care Communities has opened a new senior living community on 31 acres in Midway. The Homeplace at Midway offers a comprehensive continuum of care with a 12-person assisted living cottage for those who need periodic assistance with daily living activities; a 12-person memory care/personal care cottage for individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive impairments; and two skilled-nursing cottages for 23 individuals with short-term rehabilitation or long-term care needs.



Alltech, a global animal health and nutrition company headquartered in Nicholasville, is expanding its European presence with the acquisition of two Norwegian companies. Produs AS and Produs Aqua AS are both family-owned and operated companies that have extensive experience in the Norwegian agriculture and aqua industries. In addition, Alltech’s beverage division has acquired two European craft breweries. The purchase of The Station Works Brewery in Northern Ireland and Cumberland Breweries Ltd. in England represents the first major expansion outside the U.S. for Alltech’s brewing division. Alltech CEO Pearse Lyons said the acquisitions will enable the company to develop already-established European brands while also introducing its Kentucky Ale products to new markets.



The Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development Coalition has launched an $110,000 marketing campaign in Northern Kentucky to promote careers in advanced manufacturing in the region. The effort is primarily being funded through a grant obtained by Gateway Community and Technical College. In Northern Kentucky, it is projected that there will be more than 6,000 open manufacturing positions by the year 2022. Companies in the region are looking for skilled workers to fill current open positions and ensure a sufficient supply of talent for the future.



Eastern Kentucky University received more than $4.1 million in fundraising from private investors in fiscal year 2015, the highest total since 2001. More than 9,200 donors – half of which were alumni – contributed to the university, which will use the funds to support a $15 million multipurpose facility to replace the east-side grandstands at Roy Kidd Stadium and a pedestrian mall outside the library, among other projects.



Tyson Chicken Inc. is investing $8.2 million to add processing capacity and upgrade equipment at its plant in Robards, where it produces individually quick-frozen chicken for retail customers. The investment also includes the addition of 91 new jobs. Tyson has operated its Robards plant since 1995 and currently employs 1,200 people there.



Asbury University has received an anonymous alumni gift of $8 million that represents the largest donation in the history of the 125-year-old institution. Half of the funds will be used to help build the university’s new collaborative learning center, which will house science and math programs as well as the school of business. Another $3 million will fund student scholarships, with the remaining $1 million being allocated to debt reduction.



Kentucky’s inventory of aging bourbon barrels set a 40-year high in 2014 with more than 5,669,682 million charred oak cases resting in Bluegrass warehouses, according to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. The figure represents the highest number of aging barrels in the state since 1975.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has signed new contracts with five managed-care organizations to provide Medicaid services to Kentuckians. Anthem, Coventry Cares, Humana, Passport and Wellcare have been awarded one-year contracts with four, one-year renewal options. The contracts went into effect July 1 and serve more than 1.1 million Kentuckians.

London and Stearns are the fifth and sixth additions to Kentucky’s Trail Town program, an initiative designed to help connect communities to trail systems and assist in developing sites as tourist destinations. Once a community has been certified as a Kentucky Trail Town, the Office of Adventure Tourism and the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet market the communities and the services they offer by helping to acquire highway signage, prominent placement on websites, and promotional materials and maps. Communities already part of the program include Dawson Springs, Livingston, Morehead and Olive Hill.