Business and the Economy

Business news

Big Rivers Electric Corp.

A western Kentucky utility is seeking to provide wholesale power to nine cities across the Commonwealth.  The state’s Public Service Commission offered its backing Monday. 

Louisville, Lexington Work to Grow Ky Exports, Attract Investors

Nov 28, 2016

After an election season in which both major political parties bashed free trade deals, the mayors of Kentucky’s two largest cities have renewed their initiative to attract foreign investment to — and exports from — the region.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Lexington and Louisville need to join forces to be relevant on the global stage.

“We need to work together so we can present a unified force to the world that would allow us to better compete together for our whole state,” Fischer said during a news conference on Monday.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture sponsored what they called a Beginning Farmer Summit Friday in Louisville.  

Madison County Extension Agent in Agriculture Brandon Sears says about half of the people with an interest in farming are new to Agriculture.  He says the other half often see farming passed down from generation to generation.

Central Kentucky business leaders got briefings on Southern and Eastern Kentucky economic strategies this week.  The Commerce Lexington-sponsored trip included stops in Williamsburg, Hazard, Pikeville, Prestonsburg, Paintsville, and Salyersville.  

Group President Bob Quick says the trip and related events are about coordinated efforts to grow a statewide economy.  The Commerce Lex CEO says it’s incumbent on central Kentucky business interests to reach out and help other economies as well.  “When all the Commonwealth is growing, then we’re all going to do better,” noted Quick.

Horse industry growth opportunities were on the agenda last week during the Kentucky Equine Education Project’s 2016 conference in Lexington.Horse industry growth opportunities were on the agenda last week during the Kentucky Equine Education Project’s 2016 conference in Lexington.

Ky. Restaurants Review Minimum Wage Ruling

Oct 21, 2016

Retailers across Kentucky are assessing the State Supreme Court’s ruling on local efforts to set a minimum wage.  That includes many in the restaurant business.

The state’s highest court yesterday ruled on wage increases in Lexington and Louisville invalid.   The court says only state lawmakers can act to raise the base rate. 

Kentucky Restaurant Association President Stacy Roof says it will be a business-by-business decision about whether to go back to the lower minimum wage of $7.25.  She says most of their workers are not making minimum wage.

Lexington Continuing Along "Gigabit Road"

Oct 20, 2016

Work continues on making Lexington a so-called "gigabit city."  The transition to super high speed internet is expected to take years.

Officials began discussing moving to high speed internet countywide two years ago.  City officials says many communities across the country are wrestling with process and cost issues.  A public/private partnership is anticipated in Fayette County. 

Rupp Upgrades to Bring Increased Concert Options

Oct 11, 2016

Improvements to Lexington’s Rupp Arena will cater to more than just University of Kentucky basketball fans.  Rupp Officials unveiled the latest technologies this week including $15 million worth of upgrades that could affect the concert schedule.

Much attention is being given to a new center-hanging video board, new sound system, LED lighting and an enhanced rigging grid for concerts.

Lexington's Center Corporation officials are requesting proposals to develop the large parking lots across from Rupp Arena. The mixed use project would cover about 17 acres.

Developers are being asked to submit plans for a commercial and possibly residential project.  Lexington Center Corporation President Bill Owen says it would go well with the planned expansion of the convention center.  “Support other uses whether it would be hotel, restaurant, retail, residential.  Whatever it might be that could be ancillary to that convention center project,” said Owen.

Louisville Firm Unveiling Factory Messaging App

Sep 19, 2016

A Louisville-based software and solutions company is about to unveil a new piece of technology that could have implications for Kentucky automakers like Toyota and Ford.

IGear Director of Partner and Client Services Tony Fink says sensors capture everything on equipment in today’s factories.  To help deal with the deluge of data, Fink says “squeak” technology was developed. 

Stu Johnson

Governor Bevin says the University of Louisville is a key component of a National Center to focus on automotive research in areas of automotive efficiency and sustainable transportation.  That could cover everything from online transportation services to self-driving cars.

He made that announcement Monday before the second Auto Vision Conference in Lexington.

The leader of a non-profit economic development agency in Eastern Kentucky sees promise in the results of a just-released workforce survey.  It’s partly focused on efforts to lure new firms to the region that could offer employment to out-of-work coal miners.

Groundbreaking Ceremony to Give Blue Grass Stockyards a New Home

Sep 2, 2016
Blue Grass Stockyards via

A Friday afternoon groundbreaking ceremony in Lexington could be the beginning of a new era for the Blue Grass Stockyards.  

It was seven months ago when a three-alarm fire destroyed the long time historic home of facility off Forbes Road.  Now, government, agriculture, and others in business are celebrating the start of construction for a new stockyards off Iron Works Pike. 

Trail Group Moving Forward with Five County Initiative

Sep 1, 2016

Work continues to connect biking, hiking, horseback riding, and water travel throughout five central Kentucky counties.  Members of the Bluegrass Bike Hike Horseback Trails Alliance met Wednesday in Versailes.  The Alliance’s Ed Council calls himself an ‘acquaholic’, born along the Chesapeake Bay.  He says the current trail initiative goes beyond waterways.  “It’s not only water trails, but it’s also land trails for horseback riding, for hiking, for biking and for off road and paved surface motorized trails,” said Council.

Ashland Estate Makes History With Hemp

Aug 30, 2016
Stu Johnson WEKU News


A mixture of history and present day agricultural interests are interwoven on the grounds of Ashland near downtown Lexington.  Henry Clay’s estate was home to an education-based hemp harvest Tuesday.

U.S. communities hard hit by coal industry layoffs in eight Appalachian states and Texas are being promised more than 3,000 jobs in several industries through a multimillion-dollar federal grant.  

Officials for the Appalachian Regional Commission and other agencies announced the 29 projects totaling nearly $39 million at a news conference in Huntington, West Virginia yesterday.  

Kentucky’s Farmers Markets Grow ‘Double Dollars” Program

Aug 9, 2016


The “Double Dollars” program offered through several farmers’ markets across Kentucky is growing.  Word of the expansion came during Tuesday’s celebration of Kentucky Farmers Market Week in Frankfort.

“Double Dollars” allows families receiving government nutritional assistance to double their spending power up to ten dollars daily by shopping at certain farmers markets.  The program began in 20-14 with private backing at six markets. 

Record Crowd Participates in Minority Business Expo

Aug 4, 2016


A record crowd participated in this year’s Minority Business Expo in Lexington.  An organizer says it’s currently a positive environment for growing minority and women owned businesses locally.

Few Defects Earns Toyota High Ranking

Aug 1, 2016


The Scott County Toyota plant has earned another high mark in the production category.  This recognition comes from a familiar automotive review group.

The Georgetown Toyota automotive plant tied with the Kyushu  Japan Lexus facility for producing models with the fewest defects worldwide.  The honor comes from J.D. Power, the global marketing information services firm. 

Stu Johnson WEKU News

Lexington’s success in receiving $14.1 million in federal money for a trail project through downtown could mean increased business. The award, announced this week, offers more assurance the project will become a reality.

Talk of the Town Branch Trail has been prevalent at city hall and among advocates for a number of years.  But, this federal grant puts the trail from South Forbes Street to Midland and Third in a different category. 

‘Brexit’ Could Impact Kentucky Export Market

Jul 11, 2016

    Since the United Kingdom ranks second as a destination for Kentucky exports, its decision to leave the European Union is expected to have some impact on some Kentucky businesses.

Kentucky World Trade Center President Ed Webb and his staff are telling companies in the bluegrass state doing business with Britain to ‘pause.’ 

Webb says it looks as if it could be a four year process for ‘Brexit’ to fully play out.  Still, he says it’s likely to be felt here.  “Exporting will be tougher for Kentucky into the UK.  That’s a challenge of the currency depreciating obviously.”

Ky. American Water Rates Expected to Rise This Fall

Jul 7, 2016

Customers of Kentucky American Water Company should anticipate a 7.5% increase in their bills this fall.  The monthly increase for the average residential user is about $3 dollars.  It’s outlined in a settlement involving the water company, the city of Lexington, the attorney general’s office, and Community Action Council. 

Kentucky Tourism Gains

Jul 5, 2016


A study shows that tourism in Kentucky is doing pretty well.  It demonstrates the biggest jump in the past six years.

The Paducah Sun reports the Kentucky Cabinet for Tourism, Arts and Heritage recently released study shows the state with its largest overall gain in tourism dollars since 2009.

Kentucky officials say General Motors Corp. plans to invest $290 million at the automaker's Corvette plant in Bowling Green.

The company's North American manufacturing manager, Arvin Jones, said Friday the investment includes technology upgrades to improve the plant's manufacturing process. It could also create as many as 270 new jobs.

The investment announcement was made by Gov. Matt Bevin's office in Frankfort.

A relatively small sample of Kentucky’s independent retailers shows mixed reviews when it comes to evaluating their local economies.  The springtime survey was conducted by the Kentucky Retail Federation.   Federation Spokeswoman Sarah Rowlette says respondents noted workforce numbers haven’t changed much since the last survey.  “While you know, it’s great that we’re seeing the workforce appears to be stabilizing, outlook is unclear.”

Retired Miners Rally for Health Benefits

Jun 14, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

    An estimated 3500 retired coal miners and their families rallied on the issue of pension and health care benefits Tuesday in Lexington.  The participants were trying to get a message to Washington.

Retired miners filled Heritage Hall to lobby for the  Miners Protection Act.  It includes provisions related to preserving health care benefits.  The legislation comes following bankruptcy filings by certain coal companies.  

Toyota Marks 30 Years Since Groundbreaking in Central Kentucky

Jun 8, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News


Central Kentucky’s largest manufacturer is celebrating a 30 year anniversary.  The Toyota story has been one of great growth.

The atmosphere was light on a brilliant sunny day, outside the auto plant in Scott County.  Toyota President Wil James noted a plane overhead pulling a company banner.  “Now if you haven’t noticed, 30 years has just flown by.  How about that timing,”

GE Appliances Sale To China-Based Haier Is Final

Jun 7, 2016

General Electric’s Louisville-based appliance division has a new owner.

GE Appliances is now part of the China-based Haier Company. The multibillion-dollar sale was finalized on Monday.

About 6,000 people work at Louisville’s Appliance Park, which was constructed by GE more than 60 years ago. The division will now be called “GE Appliances, a Haier Company.”

Chip Blankenship will continue as president and CEO. He said employees should not expect any major shakeups under the new owner.

Lexington Herald Leader/

Apple computer co-founder Steve Wozniak was in Lexington yesterday to be honored and speak at: ONE: the Alltech Ideas Conference.

Wozniak is the recipient of the 2016 Humanitarian Award for his  “dedication to inspiring innovation through education and creating one of the world’s most peaceful  revolutions.”

Alltech President Pearce Lyons welcomed Wozniak to the stage at Rupp Arena.

Businesses in a southern Kentucky tourist-rich area are hoping a National Park Service report released this week is an indicator of a strong upcoming summer season.  That report showed visitors to the state’s national parks spent over $113 million in the Commonwealth last year. 

Adam Phillips is McCreary County’s Tourism Director.  He says the area recently had a large trail race that had over 400 racers and others who accompanied them. “Obviously,” said Phillips, “That got us kind of off to a good start as far as the spring season goes.”