Keeneland President Bill Thomason addressing Lexington Rotarians
Credit Stu Johnson / WEKU News
The president of Keeneland says the long term success of the historic track hinges on being able to attract youth to the sport.
Bill Thomason offered his annual pre-derby speech to Lexington Rotarians Thursday. "If you attach them to the horse, then you create life-long fans," said Thomason. "That's why even if they're picnicking on the grounds, which we love to see, we do things to make sure that they have the opportunity to get up next to the racetrack to see the horses and experience it."
With Keeneland's spring meet now in the books, most Kentuckians are turning their attention to Louisville and this weekend's Kentucky Derby. But, Lexington leaders are also thinking about a major horse racing event that will take place this fall.
A study just released by the University of Kentucky says Keeneland last year generated $590 million for Lexington and Fayette County. The economic boost goes beyond traditional racing days.
The new study, the first of its kind on Keeneland, focused on fall and spring racing meets, along with four international Thoroughbred sales. The economic impact study was conducted by the University of Kentucky's Center for Economic Research.
A group of students at Kentucky State University is working on a project that could help small scale Kentucky farmers generate additional income. Farm ponds could prove to offer farmers more financial options.
Governor Beshear is in the midst of an economic development trip, visiting three Asian countries. He and his team are meeting with company and country officials in Taiwan, Singapore, and Japan. Cabinet for Economic Development Spokesman Joe Hall says the governor may not come back home with an expansion or new plant announcement in hand. "A lot of times these are forming relationships and discussing initial opportunities or even exploring opportunities,” said Hall. “Usually these trips do pay dividends. It just might not be right when he gets back."
Kentucky is one of 10 states chosen to develop a model program to assist those who are long-term unemployed and on food stamps. The Commonwealth will receive almost $20 million from the federal government to support the pilot program. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement Thursday in Lexington. "We're now in a position to say, 'here's resources, figure out how to link these people,'" said Vilsack. "You know, these are not people who are gonna be easy to employ; they may have been unemployed for an extended period of time."
A ceremony was held Tuesday at the state Capitol Rotunda in recognition of Kentucky's first place honor in Site Selection Magazine's Governor's Cup rankings. The Commonwealth was awarded top prize for new and expanded industry activity per capita over the last year. Site Selection Editor Mark Arend says the award is given for projects that were announced in 2014. "So, those projects have yet to be built or the expansions have yet to be completed, but those facilities will all need to be staffed,” he said. “So, that's when the jobs start coming in."
There seems to be significant nationwide interest in the first Thoroughbred Makeover event planned at the Kentucky Horse Park. A large group of horse enthusiasts gathered in Lexington Monday for the launch of the initiative, which aims to help Thoroughbred racehorses transition into second careers.
Kentucky's first regional career academy is scheduled to begin offering classes to 25 to 30 students this fall. The students will come from the five north central counties of Carrol, Gallatin, Henry, Owen, and Trimble.
The investigation into the security breach of Anthem Insurance continues. While that is itself is a concern, there are now reports of scams related to this cyber attack. Heather Clary with the Better Business Bureau of Eastern and Central Kentucky says don't open any emails that appear to be from Anthem. Clary says establishing credit protection is a good first step.
The University of Kentucky released its 43rd state economic report Monday. Ken Troske with the Gatton College of Business and Economics says Kentucky will likely see moderate to slow growth in 2015. "I'd love to see three to four percent in the nation and in the state,” said Troske. “We just don't see the projections, given all of the other issues that are buffeting the economy, particularly some of the troubles in the rest of the world."
Governor Beshear is in Europe for an economic development trip. Beshear is scheduled to speak this week at the International CAR-Symposium in Germany. More than a thousand automobile executives gather for the yearly meeting.
Plans to revise workforce training investments across Kentucky were discussed Tuesday at Lexington's City Hall. City officials have had ongoing questions about training strategies for the Lexington area.
There's interest among Lexington leaders to narrow the focus of workforce training in the region. State officials are working now to prepare for implementation of a new federal workforce training act this summer.
A program designed to benefit Kentucky's manufacturing sector is expanding. Governor Beshear made the announcement Wednesday at the Georgetown Toyota plant, where the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education initiative is already underway. It is growing to include Louisville, northern Kentucky, and Elizabethtown.
2014 could go down as a "breakout" year for Kentucky's economy. Economists and workers in about every occupation imaginable were waiting for the effects of the "Great Recession" of 2008 to fade. State Economist Manoj Shanker says a significant uptick has happened over the past eleven months. Shanker says he has been expecting growth and recovery in the Kentucky labor market for the last two years, but it just hasn't happened. “This year, suddenly things aligned themselves just right, and it did take off," said Shanker.
The new director of the Kentucky Horse Park hopes the 1,200 acre attraction will become self-sustaining over time. Jamie Link came on board in mid-November, replacing long time director John Nicholson. Link wants to see a review of the park's rates. "We'll be looking at all aspects of that from admissions to food services, to gift shop offerings, to all of those things; the campground rates and things,” said Link. “Just to make sure that we're still a good value, but we're also looking at the market and being a good operation for the taxpayers of Kentucky."
Kentucky Christmas tree growers can face a variety of challenges, both on the farm and in the marketplace. In addition to weather, weeds, and threats of disease, the state's soil is suitable for only certain types of Christmas trees. Marla Jackson, Office Manager at Hutton and Lloyd Tree Farm says customers also tend to want taller trees. "The larger tree, the eight to 10 to 12 foot is now pretty much, there's about as many people buying the larger trees as there are the small trees," said Jackson.