Fast Lane: September 2015

By wmadministrator

The new Lake Barkley bridge, which will feature a basket-handle arch design, will have four travel lanes and a 10-foot pedestrian-bicycle path.
The new Lake Barkley bridge, which will feature a basket-handle arch design, will have four travel lanes and a 10-foot pedestrian-bicycle path.

Cadiz: Lake Barkley Bridge project drives improved tourism, commerce

Construction is now officially underway on a bridge to span Lake Barkley, the second part of the much-anticipated twin bridges project for Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake that will improve travel safety for the area, which draws thousands of visitors each year.

The $128.3 million project will result in a four-lane bridge to carry U.S. 68/KY80 traffic and serve as the eastern entrance to the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.

The new bridge will replace the Henry Lawrence Memorial Bridge, a narrow, two-lane structure built in 1932 that long ago ceased to meet design standards for modern volumes and vehicles such as recreational vehicles and freight carriers.

The new Lake Barkley bridge is expected to be open to traffic by October 2017. The new Kentucky Lake bridge is expected to be ready for traffic in December 2015, with completion in 2016.

Frankfort: Buffalo trace opens New $20M Automated distribution center

Buffalo Trace Distillery has completed the construction of its revolutionary new 83,000-s.f.  distribution center, which uses satellite technology to store and retrieve pallets of finished goods.

Buffalo Trace Distillery is believed to be the first spirits supplier to use this system, called an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS).

The $20 million investment at Buffalo Trace is part of parent company Sazerac’s $71 million investment in the state of Kentucky at its three distilleries: The Glenmore Distillery in Owensboro is receiving a new 223,00- s.f. distribution center that should be completed later this year or early 2016, and the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown added new equipment to improve production capacity.

Buffalo Trace also recently completed a 5,500-s.f. expansion of its visitor’s center, which includes event space and four tasting bars.

Hebron: DHL Hiring 200 more at CVG to keep up with e-commerce growth

DHL is continuing to invest in its hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to ensure that it has the capacity needed to meet the demands of future growth generated by the international shipping and global trade.

A $108 million investment announced this summer will create 50 new jobs when it is completed in late 2016, but in the near term, DHL is hiring 200 part-time and full-time staff to keep up with expected volume growth, including the traditional surge seen at year-end.

International e-commerce is one factor in the future growth that DHL anticipates. Current forecasts predict U.S. volume of online sales will grow nearly 38 percent from 2014 to 2017. E-commerce volume in the Asia Pacific region, already the world’s largest business-to-consumer e-commerce market, is expected to nearly double by 2017. The growth outlook for Latin American e-commerce is also strong, with a 30 percent gain by 2017.

The CVG hub, one of three DHL global hubs, connects the United States to the DHL global network spanning Asia, Europe and the Americas. Processing approximately 50 million international shipments annually, the CVG hub handles shipments bound for the United States, Canada, Mexico and Latin America.

“Our partnership with DHL is one of the important relationships we have at the airport,” said Candace McGraw, chief executive officer, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. “The additional cargo traffic generated by DHL allows CVG to keep costs low and stable.”

Hebron: PSA is opening full-service aircraft maintenance base at CVG

PSA Airlines, a Dayton, Ohio-based company that is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines, is preparing to open a full-service maintenance base at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).

PSA has been utilizing a third-party vendor at CVG to supplement the maintenance being performed at its own facilities, but a growing fleet has resulted in the need for an additional maintenance base location. Earlier this year, PSA announced that would receive 24 new Bombardier CRJ-900 NextGen aircraft that will operate under the American Eagle brand, in addition to 47 CRJ700s that are being transferred to PSA. The company is on track to have 150 jets by 2017.

“Having our own maintenance base at CVG will significantly enhance our ability to more efficiently support the maintenance requirements for the rapidly growing fleet of large RJ (regional jet) aircraft,” said PSA Vice President of Maintenance and Engineering Kevin Reinhalter. “It has been the intention, and desire, to carry out this work with our own staff of professionals.”

The CVG facility will have space to simultaneously accommodate up to five CRJ-900 aircraft and the company is currently hiring airframe and powerplant maintenance technicians, store clerks, and supervisory and managerial personnel for the CVG base.

Tech upgrades at Rupp Arena will enable the facility to accommodate more concerts and other events.
Tech upgrades at Rupp Arena will enable the facility to accommodate more concerts and other events.

Lexington: Rupp arena to get $15M tech upgrade with wi-fi and HD Video

Rupp Arena is getting a $15 million technology overhaul that will include a new center-hung video, audio and scoreboard array, wireless Internet for fans, and major structural improvements so that the venue can attract more concerts and major events.

Work on the upgrades is already underway and will be executed in phases over the next 17 months so that arena programming will not be interrupted.

The board of directors authorized installation of LED ribbon boards on the upper arena fascia at a cost of $800,000, provided by Rupp’s media partner, Learfield Sports. The ribbon board will be installed and functional for the upcoming UK basketball season.

Other improvements will include the installation of new venue video production equipment, bringing the system to an HD level, and replacing the four corner LED screens with HD screens.  The project will be completed during December between UK games so fans will experience the upgrades as they occur.

The center-hung audio/video scoreboard will be installed during the summer of 2016 and completed in time for the 2016-17 UK men’s basketball season. Upgraded Wi-Fi will also be installed before the 2016-17 season as well as improvements to the roof’s steel support structure. Arena officials said upgrades to the roof structure are needed as concerts and other productions have increasingly gotten larger and heavier.

The $15 million improvements will be financed through the sale of Lexington Center bonds, which will be conducted in early 2016. The bonds will not require guarantee of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.

Louisville: GE’s $100M Investment in Louisville plant represents its largest launch in 20 years

The new washers being built by GE Appliance in Louisville feature high-performance settings and specialty cycles to treat stains.
The new washers being built by GE Appliance in Louisville feature high-performance settings and specialty cycles to treat stains.

General Electric is investing more than $100 million in a new top-load washer design and expanded manufacturing capability at its laundry plant in Louisville. The investment represents the largest laundry launch for GE in 20 years.

“While frontload washers have surged in popularity the last decade, the traditional topload washer is 75 percent of washer sales and remains the most popular style of washer in the U.S. today,” said Peter Pepe, general manager for clothes care at GE Appliances.

The investment is part of a larger $250 million investment in the Louisville plant that was announced earlier this year and comes despite the fact that GE Appliances is being acquired by Electrolux in a $3.3 billion deal announced last September.

Russell County: 2 more rural towns in ky get new gigabit internet service

Joining Russellville in Logan County, which launched its own municipal gigabit service in late 2013, two rural communities in Russell County – Jamestown and Russell Springs – are new gigabit Internet communities in Kentucky and join just a few dozen communities across America to now offer super-fast Internet speeds.

The new service, named Lightspeed G, provides download speeds of 1Gbps, which is 100 times faster than Duo County’s standard Internet service. As a result, Russell County businesses that need to access cloud resources and download and transmit large data files will experience immediate results.

Duo County Telecom, a regional telecommunications provider, has completed installing major portions of a new fiber-optic network that will be available to both businesses and residential customers in Russell County.

“We are excited by what we are seeing develop in the handful of communities nationwide that offer gigabit Internet services and look forward to pursuing what it can mean right here in Russell County,” said Tom Preston, executive vice president and CEO of Duo County Telecom. “Lightspeed G provides an economic development tool that will enable our existing business sectors like automotive manufacturing and healthcare to grow their reach and scope of operations.”

Richmond: Ashland CTC Becomes 4th EKU 2+2 aviation program partner

Aircraft with an Eastern Kentucky University logo are becoming a frequent site at the Ashland Regional Airport, thanks to a new agreement between EKU and Ashland Community and Technical College (ACTC).

EKU currently offers the nation’s only Federal Aviation Administration-approved “1,000-hour power” 2+2 degree pathway to aviation careers – enabling students to earn a two-year associate degree at a community and technical college and then complete their bachelor’s degree in aviation from EKU and earn their pilot credentials, all without leaving Kentucky. The program really took off in 2013, when the FAA granted special authority for EKU aviation-professional flight graduates to take the Restricted Airline Transport Pilot (R-ATP) check ride at 1,000 hours, instead of waiting for the previous 1,500 hours.

The partnership with ACTC is the fourth such agreement EKU has inked with community and technical colleges around the state in an effort to prepare pilots for the 500,000 openings expected over the next 20 years. The university already has similar agreements in place with community and technical colleges in Hazard, Middlesboro and Owensboro and hopes to blanket the state – and even the nation – where community and technical colleges are co-located with a regional airport. EKU already has a 2+2 agreement in process in Central Oregon Community College.

Wickliffe: Verso will idle paper mill, cut 300 jobs as demand crumples

Citing a drop in demand and a change in its industry’s net trade balance, Verso Corp. announced in late August that it is reducing production capacity at its paper plant in Maine and plans to indefinitely idle its paper mill in Wickliffe, Ky. The changes are slated to go into effect beginning in October.

Officials with the Memphis-based company said Verso’s decision to reduce its production capacity was driven by several factors. North American coated paper demand is in secular decline, down 4.7 percent in the first half of 2015, following declines of 3.4 percent and 4.3 percent in 2014 and 2013, respectively, according to stats from the Pulp and Paper Products Council.

In addition, they say, the effects on U.S. producers have been made significantly worse by a change in the net trade balance due to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar relative to foreign currencies, which has resulted in increased foreign imports from Asia, Europe and Canada and decreased U.S. exports. In addition, high operating costs in Maine, especially high energy costs and local property taxes, were contributing factors.

The Wickliffe Mill has one machine with the capacity to produce 280,000 tons of coated paper and 30,000 tons of dried market pulp. The indefinite idling of the Wickliffe Mill will result in the lay-off of approximately 310 employees. The production cuts in Maine will eliminate another 300 jobs.

Eastern Kentucky: Promise zone efforts to create development, jobs are now beginning to pay off

Within the past 18 months, more than $200 million in funding has been identified for projects over the next five to seven years in Kentucky’s Promise Zone of Bell, Harlan, Letcher, Perry, Leslie, Clay, Knox and part of Whitley counties. The funds come from a combination of federal grants, private foundations, federal loans, private investments and other sources of money from outside the Promise Zone.

The Promise Zone Initiative empowers federal agencies to partner with local communities and businesses in creating jobs, increasing economic security, expanding educational opportunities, building private investment and improving public safety.

Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp. is coordinating and managing the process, but there are 55 Promise Zone partners — ranging from the private sector to local governments to nonprofit organizations. USDA is the lead implementing federal agency for the Kentucky Promise Zone.

Investments already are being made in areas such as education; medical facilities; college and career readiness; online information technology degree and certificate programs; workforce training; health and anti-drug initiatives; and housing and energy-efficiency projects. Some highlights include:

Almost $20 million from USDA for a pilot project to help Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants find jobs and ultimately work toward self-sufficiency.

$30 million in private investment by Keeneland Racing Association to build Thunder Gap on the Corbin Bypass. It is expected to create about 2,000 jobs and $10 million in tax revenues over the next five years with 100 to 150 permanent jobs.

More than $44 million in grants for education projects that support a college-going culture and mental health initiatives.

An announcement that Kowa Kentucky Inc. will open a facility in Corbin to manufacture surface treatment for automotive suppliers and create 30 jobs. It is the first North American plant for Kowa and the first Japanese company to locate in the Promise Zone.

Co-investment from the state and federal governments in local companies such as Phillips Diversified, which is headquartered in Manchester. KHIC completed two loans last year with Phillips Diversified –  one loan in partnership with the Economic Development Cabinet and the other with USDA to create about 40 jobs.

State: New authority created to run statewide broadband project

Gov. Steve Beshear signed an executive order last month creating the Kentucky Communications Network Authority (KCNA) and its governing board to manage the KentuckyWired open-access broadband network.

The goal of the project is to create high-speed Internet connectivity throughout the entire state to enhance economic development and workforce and educational opportunities while sustaining Kentucky’s economy.

“Broadband, like electricity, water and sewer, is now an essential service but has been too expensive for private carriers to build out a high-speed, high-capacity network across the entire state,” Beshear said. “With KentuckyWired, or the I-Way, an open-access network, the state will be responsible for building out the middle portion of a fiber network, similar to our interstate system of roads.”

Over the next two to three years, more than 3,000 miles of fiber infrastructure, often referred to as the “middle mile,” will be built.

“In nearly every ranking of broadband capacity and adoption, Kentucky ranks at or near the bottom,” Beshear said. “The potential to tap into the global economy, compete for higher paying jobs, collaborate with researchers across the globe, take classes online, or access increased medical care make KentuckyWired one of the most important infrastructure projects for all of Kentucky.”

Eastern Kentucky will be the first priority region for the broadband project.

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