Business Briefs: November 2015

By wmadministrator

COLUMBIA

  • T.J. Regional Health of Glasgow has issued a proposal to acquire and operate Westlake Regional Hospital in Columbia, Ky., which has been experiencing financial difficulties for nearly a decade. In 2013, the Adair County Public Hospital Corp. and the Hospital District, which owns and operates Westlake, filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. Since then, Westlake has continued its healthcare operations and treatment of patients during the bankruptcy proceedings, but has seen its debt continue to climb. Under its proposal, T.J. Regional Health will not receive any monies from the Adair County Hospital District in the proposed acquisition.

COVINGTON

  • The Catalytic Fund, a local urban-development organization, has been awarded $700,000 from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financing Institution program, one of only 123 organizations nationwide to be selected to receive such funding. The grant will enable the organization to continue its work to further urban redevelopment in Northern Kentucky’s river communities of Ludlow, Covington, Newport, Bellevue and Dayton.
  • Covington has received $3.9 million in federal funding that will be used to help fund development of the highly anticipated Riverfront Commons Trail. The funding will pay for nearly a quarter-mile of the multi-use path that – when completed – will stretch more than 11 miles and connect Kentucky communities that lie along the Ohio River, from Ludlow to Fort Thomas.

ERLANGER

  • St. Elizabeth Healthcare and SUN Behavioral Health have announced that the partnership’s recently announced behavioral health and chemical dependency hospital will be located in Erlanger. The 197-bed hospital is expected to employ a staff of approximately 400, some 270 of which will be newly created jobs. The groundbreaking for the project is slated to take place in early 2016, with the opening projected by the summer of 2017.

HEBRON

  • Pomeroy, a Hebron-based IT consulting firm, is merging with South Carolina IT company Tolt Solutions to create the Pomeroy Group of Companies. As part of the transaction, Clearlake Capital Group L.P. entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Pomeroy and simultaneously back the merger of Pomeroy with Tolt. The Pomeroy Group will have more than 4,000 employees and nearly $1 billion in annual revenue. Tolt will operate as a standalone division within the Pomeroy Group, maintaining its core focus of providing managed IT services to grocery, retail, convenience, food service and distributed enterprise customers. The existing management teams will remain in place.

HENDERSON

  • Big Rivers Electric Corp. has been overly optimistic about its future and will need to move more aggressively in coming years to mitigate the loss of its two largest customers, according to an independent review released by the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC). The PSC ordered the audit in April 2014, when it approved a rate increase requested by Big Rivers. The rate increase was the second of two requested by Big Rivers to maintain financial stability after Century Aluminum smelters in Hawesville and Sebree stopped purchasing power from the utility. Together, the two smelters accounted for about two-thirds of Big Rivers’ load and revenue. The report noted that Big Rivers should give more consideration to selling off power plants that are no longer needed.

 INDEPENDENCE

  • Construction has begun on a 674,000-s.f. distribution facility near Interstates 71/75 in Independence being built for VanTrust Real Estate LLC, a Kansas City, Mo.-based real estate development company. The new facility, which will be called Park 536, is a speculative development being built to meet strong market demand for distribution and warehouse space in Northern Kentucky. Fort Mitchell-based Paul Hemmer Co. is leading the construction project, which is expected to be complete by July 2016.

LEXINGTON

  • The University of Kentucky is building a $265 million research facility that will be dedicated to addressing health challenges and disparities in Kentucky, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and drug abuse. Half of the funding for the facility is coming from the state, with the remainder coming from university resources, including private gifts. The facility is slated to be complete in the spring of 2018.
  • Tempur Sealy International has eliminated nearly 50 positions at its Lexington headquarters as part of a 2 percent worldwide workforce reduction to “better streamline the company and improve operating productivity.” The cuts in Lexington represent approximately 10 percent of the corporate headquarter staff.

LOUISVILLE

  • Louisville Slugger manufacturer Hillerich & Bradsby Co. has donated a 2-acre parcel of land near downtown Louisville to the Community Foundation of Louisville. The property, which was the site of the company’s bat factory for more than 70 years, is valued at $1 million and will be used as part of The Wheelhouse Project, a community effort that will play a role in the revitalization taking place in the 150-year-old Smoketown neighborhood.
  • A major renovation and expansion of the Kentucky International Convention Center is set to begin in August 2016, with a completion targeted for summer 2018. The expansion will increase contiguous exhibit space by more than a third, from 146,000 s.f. to over 200,000 s.f. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the redesigned center will allow Louisville to compete for more convention business, which will in turn help create more jobs. Louisville already hosts five of the country’s largest trade shows, according to Tradeshow News Network.
  • Norton Healthcare is investing $107 million to expand and renovate Norton Audubon Hospital as part of a multi-year hospital growth plan. The project will involve a general overhaul of the existing structure as well as the renovation of existing patient rooms and the addition of 74 private patient beds, three new operating rooms and renovation of the main OR, and the expansion of the emergency department, intensive care unit and open-heart unit. Construction work on the 35-year-old facility will begin in the spring and will take approximately three and a half years to complete.
  • Louisville-based KentuckyOne Health, the largest health system in the state, has reported systemwide financial improvements of more than $142 million for the 2015 fiscal year. KentuckyOne officials credited increased patient volume and enhanced operating performance for the improvement. Over the course of FY2015, KentuckyOne added five new ambulatory sites and 108 new primary care providers, a virtual primary care program (Anywhere Care) and a retail partnership with Walgreens.
  • Two Louisville companies are among the 80 winners recently announced in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) second annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. XLerateHealth helps early-stage healthcare companies build out their commercialization strategy. LVL1 Inc. is a hackerspace, a nonprofit open community lab and workshop that attracts “tinkerers, makers, engineers, educators, scientists, artists, hackers and overall geeks,” according to its website. The XLerateHealth and LVL1 Inc. submissions were among more than 400 proposals submitted nationwide.
  • Louisville-based healthcare company Humana Inc. is now offering talking prescription labels to its members who are blind or visually impaired. The talking labels are available at no additional cost to Humana members who fill their prescriptions through Humana Pharmacy Inc. and its seven PrescribeIT Rx locations in Florida.
  • State and local officials gathered in Oct. 1 for the official opening of the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse in downtown Louisville, the latest bourbon-themed attraction in the city. The stillhouse features a bar for bourbon tastings, a retail store, a bottling line where guests can select, label, fill and cork their own bottle of bourbon, and displays about bourbon making. Bourbon has become a $3 billion economic engine for Kentucky that generates more than 15,400 jobs and $166 million in tax revenue each year.
  • Kentucky Trailer, a Louisville-based company that manufactures custom trailers and truck bodies, has acquired Smit Mobile Equipment B.V. and Smit Mobile Equipment Ltd. for an undisclosed amount. Smit B.V. is a Netherlands company that specializes in advanced mobile medical solutions to the medical sector, including mobile and relocatable magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography–computed tomography (PET/CT) products.  Smit UK is a service organization located in the United Kingdom.
  • Louisville-based Republic Bancorp is expanding its presence in Florida with a $32.3 million purchase of Cornerstone Community Bank. Cornerstone has four banking locations in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area, with total assets of approximately $243 million, total loans of approximately $183 million and total deposits of around $206 million.
  • MISA Metal Fabricating Inc. is investing more than $4.3 million to expand its facility at the Jefferson Riverport International Industrial Park. MISA provides carbon steel cutting via oxy-fuel, plasma, laser and band saw, as well as CNC machining, press forming, welding and painting as secondary processes. The plant was established as a supplier of steel assembly parts to Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing, which remains the company’s largest customer. The latest expansion will create 18 new jobs.

NEWPORT

  • Rooibee Red Tea Co., a company that specializes in organic bottled tea, has moved its headquarters from Louisville to Newport to be closer to Cincinnati-based Kroger, its largest customer, according to a report from The Cincinnati Business Courier. The company’s distribution operations will remain in Louisville.

OWENSBORO

  • Swedish Match, a manufacturer of tobacco products, is investing more than $3 million in its Owensboro facility to expand its research and development department. The 10,000-s.f. expansion will include new labs, offices and meeting spaces and will increase the company’s capabilities to formulate new products. The company currently employs 340 people in Owensboro and will add eight R&D jobs as a result of the expansion.
  • Brescia University has been awarded a $2.2 million grant from the United States Department of Education as part of the Strengthening Institutions Program. The grant, which is the largest in the school’s history, will support increasing retention and graduation rates, improving the university’s designated “anchor programs” (social work, education, business and life sciences), upgrading science labs and technological advancements.

OWENSBORO/RICHMOND

  • Eastern Kentucky University continues to expand its aviation program with the recent formation of a partnership agreement with Owensboro Community and Technical College. Beginning January 2016, OCTC students seeking to earn an aviation degree can begin the flight portion of their degree at the Owensboro airport, with aviation courses taught by local instructors hired by EKU. The upper division courses for juniors and seniors will be offered entirely online by EKU. The partnership is the fourth agreement in which Eastern has joined with community and technical colleges statewide in an effort to prepare pilots for the 500,000 openings expected over the next 20 years.

SOMERSET

  • EOS USA, a company that provides accounts-receivable management and business-process outsourcing services, has opened a customer-service call center in Somerset, bringing 150 new jobs to the community. The company is leasing a 20,000-s.f. facility in the Valley Oak Technology Complex.

WILMORE

  • After being put on the back burner for nearly 10 years, plans have been revived to build a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course in Wilmore. Legacy Point Capital has engaged Nicklaus to develop a 450-acre, 18-hole course that will be named Legacy Point. The initial project, proposed by Kelley Properties, got waylaid by litigation and zoning issues, but with those matters now resolved, Nicklaus plans to soon begin the design process. Nicklaus said his goal is to create a course that will be playable for all levels of golfers and all ages.

STATE

  • Kentucky has announced an agreement between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Kentucky farmers to increase corn and soybean exports to Taiwan over the next two years. The Taiwan Feed Industry Association has agreed to purchase 197 million bushels of corn at a cost of more than $1.2 billion. The Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association will be purchasing approximately 100 million bushels of soybeans valued at $1.1-$1.2 billion. In 2014, Taiwan ranked as the seventh largest market for U.S. corn exports and fifth in the U.S. soybean market.
  • The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded a $618,437 grant to the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs to study defense-related economic development opportunities in the state. An online, interactive mapping tool will enable Kentucky companies to understand and participate in the aerospace and defense industry and provide leaders and policymakers with updated information to drive increased employment.
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