Business briefs: December 2015

By The Lane Report staff

BOWLING GREEN

Construction has begun on Bilstein Cold Rolled Steel’s new manufacturing plant at the Kentucky Transpark in Bowling Green. The Germany-based company is investing $130 million to build the 250,000-s.f. facility, which will serve the company’s North American automotive industry customers. The Bilstein plant will bring 110 new jobs to Warren County.

CORBIN

The name of a Quarter-Horse racetrack being built in Corbin by the Keeneland Association has been changed from Thunder Gap to Cumberland Run due to licensing issues, according to a report by the Corbin News Journal. When complete, Cumberland Run will feature a 1,723-foot track with barn facilities, grandstand and entertainment center as well as six out parcels for commercial development and a tract for a hotel. The track will offer 10 to 15 live racing dates as well as year-round simulcasting and instant racing.

DANVILLE

Kimball International Inc., which designs and manufactures office furniture, is expanding its operations in Danville to help meet increased demand for its National Office Furniture and Kimball Office brands. The expansion will add 40 jobs to the existing 190-member workforce.

Caterpillar Inc. has announced that it will close its undercarriage components facility in Danville, where it produces parts for track-type tractors used in construction and mining. The closure is part of a global restructuring effort first announced in September, when the company stated that it would be eliminating 10,000 jobs as a result of three consecutive years of significant sales declines. The closing will impact approximately 75 positions, 25 of which will be moved to East Peoria, Ill.

ERLANGER

The number of passengers traveling out of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) in October 2015 increased 21.8 percent compared to the same month last year. The figure represents the fourth consecutive month CVG has reported passenger growth of 20 percent or greater. New low-cost carriers Allegiant and Frontier Airlines account for the largest increase in year-over-year passenger volumes. The two carriers now represent more than 20 percent of the local traffic and are helping bring down the average airfare as reported by the Department of Transportation.

FLORENCE

Florence-based Southern Air Inc. has added two additional freighters to its fleet, including a fifth Boeing 777 and a fifth Boeing 737-400. The additions bring the carrier’s total to 10 aircraft in operation for DHL  Express, a leading international air express shipping and logistics provider that has operated its principal Americas hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport since 2009.

HEBRON

Online printing company GotPrint is expanding its operations in Hebron with the addition of 32,000 s.f. of space and the purchase of a new printing press. GotPrint is a subsidiary of California-based Printograph Inc., which employs more than 450 people at three U.S. facilities (California, Texas and Kentucky) and one in the Netherlands. The Hebron facility, which employs approximately 100 workers, produces 40 percent of the company’s revenue, printing brochures, business cards, calendars, greeting cards, banners and other items. The expansion will add 15 new jobs to the Hebron workforce.

GRAVES COUNTY

A 15-acre site in Graves County’s Hickory Industrial Park has been certified as a “Build-Ready Site,” becoming the sixth site in the state to receive the designation. The Build-Ready certification means a site includes a pad 50,000 s.f. or greater (expandable to 100,000 s.f. or more), utilities are extended to an edge of the site, and the necessary permits and studies are in place, including water, building, phase-1 environmental, archeological, historical and geotechnical. Kentucky’s other Build-Ready sites include tracts in the Highland Glen Industrial Park in Barren County, the Bluegrass Crossings Regional Business Centre in Ohio County, the 4 Star Regional Industrial Park in Henderson, and two in Bowling Green’s Kentucky Transpark.

LAWRENCEBURG

Florida Tile Inc., a manufacturer of porcelain tile, is investing more than $25 million to expand its operations in Lawrenceburg. The project, which will create 61 new jobs, will allow Florida Tile to add manufacturing lines and equipment at its existing manufacturing plant and add 215,200 s.f. to its distribution center. Florida Tile was founded in Florida in 1954 but has been headquartered in Lexington since 2010.

General Cable Industries, a Highland Heights-based company that is one of the world’s largest wire and cable manufacturers, is expanding its operations in Lawrenceburg to accommodate the closing and relocation of company manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts and Illinois. The operations being relocated to Lawrenceburg primarily involve data communication cables, including specialty and fiber products. General Cable is investing more than $2.5 million in the expansion and plans to add 54 new positions in Lawrenceburg to support the project.

LEXINGTON

City National Bank of West Virginia has completed its purchase of three American Founders Bank locations in Lexington. The $6.5 million purchase, which was announced in June 2015, adds approximately $145 million in deposits and $119 million in loans. With the purchase of the three Lexington branches, City grows to $3.8 billion in assets and operates 85 banking offices in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio.

Louisville-based EAP Restaurant Concepts is expanding its popular Joella’s Hot Chicken restaurant to Lexington. Joella’s – the newest restaurant addition to the EAP portfolio, which includes BoomBozz Craft Pizza & Taphouse and Manny & Merle – puts its own spin on Nashville’s classic hot chicken, taking traditional Southern-fried chicken and adding various spice blends. The company is also planning to introduce Joella’s into the Indianapolis and Cincinnati markets.

Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock Sale, which immediately followed the track’s successful inaugural hosting of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Oct. 30-31, saw sales increase 6.34 percent over 2014. The 12-day November event saw 2,575 horses sold and brought gross sales of $218,959,400, the highest gross since the November sale record of $340,877,200 set in 2007. The median price of $30,000 was just below the $35,000 posted in 2014.

The board of directors of the Lexington Center Corp. has unanimously voted in favor of pursuing an expansion and replacement of the Lexington Convention Center, located in downtown Lexington. The LCC Board and VisitLex, the community tourism and convention bureau, are now seeking the support of the General Assembly to increase the hotel occupancy tax in Fayette County by 2 percent and requesting a $75 million grant in support of the project’s capital budget.The proposed convention center plan does not include any additional renovations to Rupp Arena, which is already undergoing a $15 million video/audio/tech upgrade.

The central Kentucky entrepreneurial community created 280 new jobs and raised $50.6 million in capital funds in fiscal year 2015, according to figures released by the Lexington Venture Club. The companies, employing a total of 952 people, reported an average salary of $76,929 for full-time jobs.

LOUISVILLE

Louisville-based PharMerica Corp., a national provider of institutional and specialty pharmacy services, has acquired Luker Pharmacy Management for an undisclosed price. Luker provides comprehensive pharmacy management services to hospitals and other healthcare facilities, primarily in Texas.

Delivra, an email marketing service provider, celebrated the opening of its expansion into the Louisville market by donating an email marketing software package valued at $5,000 to 23 Louisville-area nonprofit organizations. “Providing immediate assistance to those committed to the city of Louisville and its residents is the ideal way to celebrate our expansion,” said Neil Berman, CEO of Delivra. “Our team looks forward to establishing meaningful, longstanding relationships with the organizations’ marketers to educate and assist in their efforts to increase cause awareness.” The Indianapolis-based company opened its Louisville office this fall, citing the city as an “ideal market” for expansion due to its prominent industries of retail, e-commerce, and business and financial services.

Plans to build a $28.6 cultural arts and entertainment district near downtown Louisville got a boost in November as the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority granted preliminary approval to provide up to $7.1 million in tax rebates to the Paristowne Point Preservation Trust. The three anchors for the project include Louisville Stoneware, a performance venue operated by the Kentucky Center for the Arts, and Goodwood Brewery. The authority also granted preliminary approval to Rabbit Hole Distilling LLC, which is proposing a $12.7 million entertainment facility that will include a distillery, tasting room, gift shop and event space. That project could receive up to $3.2 million in tax rebates.

Louisville-based Bowie Resource Partners has entered into an agreement to purchase the El Segundo and Lee Ranch mining complexes in New Mexico and the Twentymile mining complex in Colorado from Peabody Energy Corp. for $358 million in cash. The deal creates the largest bituminous coal producer in the western United States. The acquisition will nearly double the size of BRP’s production output to 25 million tons per year, generating top line revenues of $1 billion annually. With the acquisition, BRP will operate five mining complexes in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, employing over 1,700 people.

Almost Family Inc., a Louisville-based provider of home health nursing services, has acquired the Black Stone Operations in Ohio in a $40 million transaction. Black Stone, which provides in-home personal care and skilled home health services in western Ohio, has 2015 revenues approaching $50 million. Almost Family CEO William Yarmuth said the combined companies will create what they believe to be the largest senior-focused home health provider in the Ohio. The combined revenues in the state are expected to surpass $120 million annually.

PADUCAH

The Paducah Riverfront Redevelopment Project has been awarded $1.5 million in state funding to help transform the community’s Ohio River shoreline. The grant will help fund a project that includes completion of a land mass in the river and construction of a floating service dock where boaters can take on fuel, water and other supplies and have sewage safely disposed. The $8.1 million project is part of a larger riverfront plan that includes a public park, landscaping, plazas and a pavilion.

PIKEVILLE

With $3.2 million in funding from the federal government and the Appalachian Regional Commission, plans are moving forward to build a $4.5 million telecommunications training facility in eastern Kentucky that will support the state’s efforts to implement statewide high-speed broadband service. The funding will support construction of the Broadband and Technology Education Center on the Pikeville campus of Big Sandy Community and Technical College. BSCTC is contributing $1.2 million to the project. The training program is designed for certifications in telecommunications installation and maintenance with options to continue into an associate’s degree program of study. Training will also be available to upgrade existing employee skill sets.

The University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Optometry has received approval from the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education to begin student recruitment, selection and admissions for its inaugural class for the fall of 2016. Sixty students will be admitted per class for a total of 240. There are currently no other colleges of optometry in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia.

ROCKCASTLE COUNTY

Rockcastle Regional Hospital is adding 67,000 s.f. to its respiratory care center, a project that will make it the largest freestanding ventilator facility in the country, according to information released by the hospital. The expansion, which is expected to be complete by spring 2017, will add 28 new ventilator beds, bringing the total to 121. The growth will also create 85 new full-time jobs, 62 of which will be professional, licensed positions such as nurses and therapists. The new jobs will bring the total number of employees at Rockcastle Regional to 730.

SHEPHERDSVILLE

In response to shifting demographics, McKendree University has announced that it is relocating its Louisville campus to the College and Career Center at Bullitt Central High School in Shepherdsville. “Shepherdsville and the greater Bullitt County region have experienced significant growth in population, business and industry in recent years,” said Christian Blome, executive director of McKendree University’s Kentucky campuses. “The migration of business and industry and the changing needs of the area’s adult students now reveals that Shepherdsville is where we can best continue to serve the region.” In addition to its Louisville location, McKendree – which has its main campus in Lebanon, Ill. –  also has a campus in Radcliff, Ky.

WILLIAMSTOWN

The Ark Encounter, a massive replica of Noah’s ark that is being built in Williamstown, will open to the public July 7, 2016, according to officials with Answers in Genesis, the ministry group that is overseeing the project. In addition to announcing the project’s opening date, Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham said that the majority of the funding for the Ark Encounter’s first phase has been raised — about $80 million of the $91.5 million needed. The Ark Encounter is projected to produce some 20,000 jobs over the next 10 years and is is expected to bring up to 2.2 million visitors a year, resulting in a $4 billion economic impact over the next decade.

WILMORE

Asbury University has received a $4.5 million donation that will be used to fund student scholarships and help build a planned $25 million Collaborative Learning Center that will house science laboratories, classrooms offices and a 300-seat auditorium. The donation from the parents of an Asbury graduate comes just shortly after the university announced in June that it had received an $8 million gift from an Asbury alumnus, the largest donation in the school’s history.

STATE

Frost Brown Todd, a regional law firm that has offices in Florence, Lexington and Louisville in addition to locations in surrounding states, has launched a new affiliate to assist government entities and borrowers in creating financing solutions for projects in infrastructure, economic development and redevelopment, real estate, healthcare and public-private partnerships. David A. Rogers, who has been named president of FBT Project Finance Advisors, said the new affiliate will also focus on securitizations, P3 transactions and advising municipalities and borrowers on derivative structures.

Louisville Gas and Electric Co. (LG&E) and Kentucky Utilities Co. (KU) issued a request for information in November to gather information about developing individual solar energy facilities that they would own and operate for interested business and industrial customers. “We have had a number of business and industrial customers approach us about building and operating a solar array specifically for their business, and we believe it is another opportunity for us to directly meet the energy needs of our customers,” said John P. Malloy, vice president of customer services.” A formal bid process will take place to name the solar partner and each project will be subject to Kentucky Public Service Commission approval.

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