Business Briefs: October 2015

By wmadministrator

BELLEVUE

  • Bellevue’s iconic Marianne Theatre will soon be home to a microbrewery, following a city-led economic development effort. Last year, the City of Bellevue purchased the theater, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, to help create a new economic development opportunity that would both complement existing businesses and bring new visitors to the area. Hardman Investments, a company that has handled a number historic redevelopment projects in the Greater Cincinnati area, will be in charge of the proposed project. The brewery will retain the building’s historic features, including its signature art deco marquee.

BOWLING GREEN

  • Bowling Green is the latest addition to Uber’s mobile app-based transportation network in Kentucky, joining Lexington, Louisville and the Northern Kentucky communities of Covington, Fort Mitchell and Fort Thomas (which are considered part of the Greater Cincinnati metro area). To utilize Uber, users download the Uber app and enter the required information to receive a ride. Once a ride is confirmed, users see the name and picture of the driver, the vehicle make and model, and the license plate number. Once the ride is complete, a receipt for the transaction is emailed to the user.
  • Kentucky’s new workforce training program has created a chapter in Bowling Green – the seventh in the state – to help employers in the surrounding region address the shortage of technically skilled workers needed in advanced manufacturing. Students who participate in the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (KY FAME) program will attend classes two days per week at Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College and work another 24 hours per week for a sponsoring employer. Upon completion of the program, students receive an associate degree in applied sciences, and, with the practical skills gained during their paid work experience, most begin full-time employment with the sponsor.

ELKHORN CITY

  • Elkhorn City has become the seventh community in the state to become part of the Kentucky Trail Town program, a state initiative to help connect communities to trail systems and develop them as tourist destinations. Once a community receives the Trail Town certification, state agencies help promote and market the communities and their services via maps, websites, visitors’ guides and other state promotional material. Elkhorn City is located along the TransAmerica Trail, a cycling route that stretches across the United States. Other assets include the Russell Fork River, which is popular for whitewater paddling; Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail; and Breaks Interstate Park.

ERLANGER

  • Thelen Associates, an Erlanger-based engineering firm, has been sold to Geotechnology Inc., a geotechnical and environmental engineering firm headquartered in St. Louis. Thelen, founded in 1971, has been in involved in some of Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati’s major projects and developments, including Paul Brown Stadium (home to the Cincinnati Bengals); the Cincinnati Reds Great American Ball Park; RiverCenter, a high-rise office and hotel development in Covington; Northern Kentucky University’s BB&T Arena; and the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. With the addition of Thelen, which operated four offices with 108 employees, Geotechnology now has 280 employees in 10 offices.
  • Dermody Properties and Hillwood Investment Properties are developing a 900,000-s.f. fulfillment facility in Erlanger for Wayfair Inc., a leading online retailer of home furnishings and décor. LogistiCenterSM at 275 will be located on a 52-acre site adjacent to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and will complement Wayfair’s current distribution center in Hebron, allowing the company to increase its distribution capacity. Fort Mitchell-based Paul Hemmer Co. is handling the construction project, which is expected to be complete in the second quarter of 2016.

FLORENCE

  • International freight carrier Southern Air Holdings Inc. has extended the lease for its headquarters facility in Florence, renewing its commitment to build on what the company called a “strong partnership” with the Northern Kentucky community.  Southern moved its headquarters from Connecticut to Florence in 2013 and is a leading express delivery provider for DHL Express at its main U.S. hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

HEBRON

  • GotPrint, a company that assists small- and medium-sized businesses with promotional needs, is expanding its operations in Northern Kentucky. The $6 million project includes a 32,000-s.f. expansion that will allow the company to increase production capacity by one-third. GotPrint, which currently employs 110 full-time employees, is expected to add about 20 positions the first year and another 15 more positions within three years. The company started at the location in 2008 with 12 employees.

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS

  • Northern Kentucky University has received an $8 million gift from
    St. Elizabeth Healthcare to support its new Health Innovation Center. The funds will directly support the design and construction of a high-tech center that will include simulation space, clinical skills suites, nursing skills suites, imaging suites, and classroom and collaborative spaces. It will also provide simulation equipment to help students learn real-world skills in a safe environment. The facility is expected to open in 2018.

LEXINGTON

  • United Way of the Bluegrass has partnered with NaviGo College and Career Prep Services to launch the NaviGo Scholars Program in central Kentucky. The program, which is entering its second year in Northern Kentucky, works with local companies to pair them with high school students who have interests that connect with the companies’ respective workforces. By identifying those students before they graduate from high school, companies can work with students who could potentially fill their future job needs. In turn, students get training and experience as well as a college and career coach provided by NaviGo.
  • Fazoli’s, a Lexington-based Italian restaurant chain that was recently acquired by Sentinel Capital Partners, has launched an aggressive franchise development program and is preparing a new round of menu updates to further spur franchise development. The new franchise incentive program offers discounts of up to $20,000 off the initial $30,000 franchise fee, royalties have been cut from 4 percent to 2 percent for the first year, and vendor fees are being discounted for the first 12 months. The company is also offering incentives for current franchisees to open more units.
  • A software company that specializes in working with the hospice and palliative care industry is expanding its headquarters facility in Lexington and plans to add 30 more jobs to support increased customer demand. Consolo Service Group’s programs allow for record keeping, management and administration from patients’ homes and other care facilities. The company, founded in 2002, currently has clients in more than 45 states and has grown from three employees to more than 55 nationwide.
  • Uncle Maddio’s, a fast-growing Atlanta-based pizza chain, has signed a franchise agreement to open three Lexington restaurants with brothers Todd, Matt and Robb Sackett, and Billy White, a franchise group that currently operates 11 Jimmy Johns sandwich shops in the Lexington area. The first location is slated to open by the end of this year in Lexington’s Chevy Chase area, near the University of Kentucky.
  • An investigational medical device for the treatment of late-stage lung cancer, pioneered by researchers at the University of Kentucky, has been approved for clinical trials by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. UK is the only site in the country approved to test the new treatment on advanced lung cancer patients.
  • The regional law firm of Bowles Rice has announced plans to close its Lexington office. The following Bowles Rice attorneys will be joining the law firm of Gess Mattingly & Atchison, effective Jan. 1, 2016: Spencer D. Noe  (business, government, insurance), Richard A. Whitaker (real estate, business), J. Thomas Rawlings  (litigation, business, construction) and Donald M. Wakefield (administrative law, business, litigation). Also joining the practice, of counsel, are Charles W. Curry (estate and trust, business) and Bernard F. Lovely Jr. (equine, business).

LORETTO

  • Maker’s Mark Distillery plans to build a $4 million facility that will showcase its Maker’s 46 product and allow visitors to see how the bourbon is made. The facility is expected to open next year.

LOUISVILLE

  • SGS International, a Louisville-based marketing services company that specializes in print production and packaging services, has acquired Traffik, a marketing services firm headquartered in Toronto, Canada, that has a 90-member creative team. Traffik CEO Mark Feffier will continue to lead Traffik while taking on an expanded role within SGS to oversee the Canadian SGS operations.
  • Connolly iHealth Technologies, a Connecticut-based payment transaction analytics company, is investing $3.5 million to expand its presence in Louisville. The company is moving into a new facility in the Meidinger Tower in downtown Louisville and plans to add 45 new jobs to its 140-member financial services team already working in Louisville. Connolly serves nearly 100 government, commercial healthcare and retail clients via 50 offices located in four countries. The company works to help its clients contain costs, lower administrative burdens and improve payment accuracy.
  • The University of Louisville is expanding Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for the second time in the last decade, adding another 10,000 seats that will bring the total capacity for the football stadium to 65,000. The $55 million project also includes a major expansion of the Howard Schnellenberger football complex, which will double in size and create a total of 20,000-s.f. of space for training and conditioning. Funding for the project is being raised through sponsorships, private donations and ticket sales.
  • The Sam Swope Auto Group announced in September that it is selling all but one of its 12 Louisville auto dealerships to Automotive Management Services Inc. of West Palm Beach, Fla. A statement released by Swope President Patti Swope said that while many of the dealership names will change, all Swope employees will have the option to remain with the new owner and retain their current pay and benefits package. Toyota of Louisville will remain under Swope ownership. Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.
  • Louisville-based ad agency Scoppechio, one of the nation’s leading hospital marketing service firms, has launched a dedicated healthcare marketing unit within its organization. Scoppechio CEO Jerry Preyss said the firm has seen “a dramatic rate of growth” within its healthcare client portfolio in the last few years and currently serves nearly 200 hospitals across the nation, in addition to having partnerships with brands in the insurance, dental services and nursing categories. Scoppechio Healthcare will be staffed with more than 50 healthcare marketing professionals who will work in strategy, client service, creative content and design, performance media and multicultural marketing.
  • Louisville Metro Government is working with Google Fiber to explore building a new superfast broadband network in the city. According to information released by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s office, Google Fiber could bring Louisville residents access to gigabit Internet speeds of up to 1,000 Megabits per second – up to 40 times faster than basic broadband. Google Fiber is currently available in Kansas City; Austin; and Provo, Utah; and is in the process of expanding to Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, Salt Lake City and San Antonio.
  • Churchill Downs has announced plans for an extensive $18 million capital project to modernize the Turf Club and several other premium areas. The project is the latest in a series of ongoing investments to improve and enhance the customer experience at Churchill and will increase premium seating by 41 percent, from 1,886 to 2,660. The project will begin after the Fall Meet ends on Nov. 29 and is scheduled for completion in advance of the Spring Meet, which opens April 30, 2016. Track officials have committed $69.4 million to major capital improvements on the national historical landmark over the last six years.
  • Spalding University held a dedication ceremony in September for the new Republic Bank Academic Center, a 40,000-s.f. facility that will house the School of Nursing and the School of Social Work. The new facility will include 40 faculty offices, six instructional labs, five classrooms and a lecture hall.
  • PARx Solutions Inc., a company that handles prescription authorizations for patients, is investing $2.3 million to expand its operations in Louisville. The expansion, which comes only two years after the company first opened its Louisville operations center, will create more than 75 new jobs.

MEADE COUNTY

  • A 488-acre limestone quarry in Meade County that is one of the region’s last fully zoned quarries for mining high-calcium limestone is being auctioned off, according to an announcement from New York auction firm Sheldon Good & Co. High-calcium limestone, known as scrubber stone, is used to remove sulfur from power-plant emissions and demand for scrubber has increased as greater focus on the environment has driven federal policy and regulation. The quarry’s location near the Ohio River also provides a competitive advantage, as barge shipping is the least expensive means of distribution for the product. The sealed-bid deadline has been set for Nov. 11.

PADUCAH

  • Paducah Riverfront Hotel LP has won approval for incentives from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority for a 124-room hotel to be built next to the Paducah Expo Center and Carroll Convention Center. The $19.4 million project is expected to operate as a Holiday Inn.

TAYLOR COUNTY

  • Campbellsville University has a total economic impact of $105 million on Taylor County, according to a new study recently completed by Younger Associates. The study shows that CU supports a total of 1,343 jobs and directly employs and supports more than 12.3 percent of all jobs in Taylor County. The increase in the economic impact in the 10 years spanning 2003 to 2013 has been 82.6 percent. In total dollars, the increase has risen from $57 million in 2003 to almost $105 million in 2015.

STATE

  • AT&T has committed to extend broadband to more than 84,000 rural homes and businesses in Kentucky over the next six years. The company will be participating in the Connect America Fund, which was created by the Federal Communications Commission in 2011 to expand broadband in rural areas where market forces and economics do not support expansion. In those targeted areas of Kentucky, AT&T will deliver broadband at speeds of at least 10 Megabits per second for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads.
  • Kentucky ranked second in the nation in the “cost of doing business” category in CNBC’s recent “America’s Top States for Business 2015” scorecard. The scores were based on each state’s tax climate, state-sponsored incentives and utility and rental costs. Neighboring Indiana ranked No. 1 in the country in the “cost of doing business” category.
  • Small Business Administration loans were up over 28 percent in Kentucky compared to the same timeframe last year (Oct. 1- July 31). SBA loans during the time period amounted to almost $163 million in Kentucky, similar to what occurred across the Southeast region of the U.S.
  • The Kentucky Department of Education has announced that all 173 of the state’s public school districts have met the national goal of 100 kb of Internet bandwidth for each K-12 student. State officials say Kentucky is believed to be the first state in the nation to achieve that goal. The enhanced 100 kb per student speed is, on average, nearly 10 times faster, more robust and reliable than what Kentucky school districts had for their students just two years ago.
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