Business and the Economy

Business news

Producers of Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey are toasting another year of strong sales and revenue growth. Leading the way is growing demand for high-priced, super-premium brands.

The Distilled Spirits Council said Tuesday that combined U.S. revenues for bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey shot up 7.8 percent to $2.9 billion in 2015. Domestic volume rose 5.2 percent.

Burley Grower Issues in 2016

Dec 30, 2015
Stu Johnson / WEKU News


The number of tobacco growers in Kentucky has declined by tens of thousands over the last decade.  But, the long standing auction based sales practice has never gone away.

Lexington's Clark Manufacturer Expanding

Dec 29, 2015

  CLARK Material Handling Company is expanding its Lexington operation.  It amounts to almost a five million dollar investment.

The four point eight million dollar investment by CLARK is expected to create 30 full time jobs at the Lexington facility.  The long standing manufacturer plans to begin production of its four-wheel electric and three wheel electric forklift trucks next May.  Those models were  previously produced in Mexico. 

Lexington Summit Development Moves Along

Dec 27, 2015
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Lexington’s Nicholasville Road is known for its commercial retail activity.  As Christmas shopping subsides, so might the traffic flow.  Another high profile project is underway on a much-talked-about piece of property nearby.

Kentuckians Among Likely ‘History-Making’ Travelers

Dec 22, 2015

Many Kentuckians will travel sometime this week and the vast majority will go by car.  Daniel Wheeler, AAA of the Bluegrass Spokesman, says they will likely be part of a history-making crowd.  “AAA projects the number of year-end holiday travelers will top a hundred million for the first time on record,” Wheeler said. “And nearly one in three Americans will take a trip this holiday season with a hundred point five million expected to journey 50 miles or more from home.”

Budgeting Comes into Play During Holidays

Dec 21, 2015

Keeping a household budget is a good suggestion any time of year, but the holidays might be considered a priority time to gauge spending.   Transylvania University Economics Professor Geoff  Williams says with more activities on the calendar during the holidays, it’s a good idea to plan ahead.  “Kind of thinking through the whole season might be helpful, too, Williams said.  “Like, who am I gonna see? What are the parties, what will happen? Who do I need to give gifts for?  If you look ahead, you can maybe sort of think about what the whole picture is gonna look like.”



Officials with the Georgetown Toyota plant are expecting next year’s production to be on par with this year’s efforts.  That includes taking on some additional responsibilities mid-year.

IRS Phone Scams Rank First Nationally and in Kentucky

Dec 15, 2015

Many Kentuckians this year have reported receiving phone calls from con artists pretending to be from the Internal Revenue Service. The national Better Business Bureau Council launched the ‘Scam Tracker’ program earlier this year. One of the most popular cons is from scammers who call people on the phone and tell them they owe back taxes.  Heather Clary with the Central and Eastern Kentucky BBB Chapter says similar activity is seen in her office.  “We receive several calls every day, maybe ten or twelve from consumers reporting this scam," she said.

Kentucky Ag Economy Experiencing a ‘Downward Spiral’

Dec 3, 2015

    2015 has not been as profitable as last year for many Kentucky farmers and prospects for 2016 don’t appear to be any better.  Reports on the states ag economy were delivered Thursday at the Kentucky Farm Bureau annual meeting in Louisville.

October Unemployment Rate Declines in 109 Counties

Dec 3, 2015

Kentucky’s unemployment numbers continue on a downward trend.  More than one hundred Kentucky counties saw lower rates in October compared to a year ago.

In fact, jobless rates fell in 109 Kentucky counties in October compared to the same month in 20-14.  The Kentucky Office of Employment and Training reports Woodford County recorded the lowest rate at two point eight percent followed by Fayette at three point one percent. The state’s highest unemployment rate was found in Magoffin in October at eleven point three percent. 

Ceremony Held to Highlight U.S. 68 Reconstruction Project

Nov 30, 2015

A new four lane highway between Paris and Millersburg could benefit existing businesses while opening up communities to additional retail.  State and county officials gathered Monday for the ribbon cutting of the widening of U.S. Highway 68.  Millersburg Mayor Sam Chanslor says one local industry is likely to see more traffic.  “Murray Mining hauls mining equipment in and out of town and it will make it a lot easier for them,” said Chanslor.  “We’re hoping that that’s gonna lead to attracting some other industries and also helps us promote our downtown district.”

    The majority of independent retailers surveyed this fall expect to carry the same amount of holiday inventory as a year ago.  They were polled through a questionnaire from the Kentucky Retail Federation.

Kentucky officials say the state's unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level since the spring of 2001.

The state Office of Employment and Training said Thursday that last month's preliminary jobless rate was 4.9 percent, down from a 5 percent rate in September. The statewide rate in October 2014 was 5.6 percent.

Last month's statewide rate matches the 4.9 percent rate in May 2001.

Valvoline Breaks Ground on Global Headquarters in Lexington

Nov 16, 2015
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Valvoline has called Lexington home for more than three decades and now the company has decided to build its global headquarters in the bluegrass.  Corporate and government officials celebrated Monday with a ground breaking in Lexington.  President Sam Mitchell says the decision to stay in Lexington just reaffirms the company’s commitment to the community.  “It’s been our headquarters for the last 35 years, so we’re making a long term commitment to stay right here in Lexington,” said Mitchell.  “It’s a great place to live.  Our employees love it here and there’s a lot of talent here too, s

Kentucky Grocery Shoppers Continue to Experience Spiked Egg Prices

Nov 16, 2015

The price for a dozen eggs in Kentucky has climbed substantially over the last few months.  The demand for eggs is only expected to increase.

Kentucky Recognizes $12.8B Forest Products Industry

Oct 21, 2015

This is Forest Products Week in Kentucky. The commonwealth’s forest industry generates almost $13 billion for the state’s economy. State Division of Forestry Director Leah MacSwords says more than 700 processing facilities are found in 109 Kentucky counties.  She admits it’s a changing industry.  “Where we may see a drop in one forest product, certainly we’ve seen a drop in the paper industry, because people don’t read a lot of the material in paper as they used to,” said MacSwords.  “We’ll see other areas that will pick up the difference.”

Kentucky Corn, Soybean Harvest Looking Strong in 2015

Oct 16, 2015

Kentucky corn and soybean farmers can expect a productive season.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the corn harvest to be up one percent and soybeans seven percent higher than last year. However, higher yields don’t always equate to more money for farmers.  University of Kentucky Agricultural Economist Todd Davis says farmers can sometimes save in production costs.  “It lowers your per unit cost.  So, you have more bushels to sell and I have my cost of production spread out over more bushels,” said Davis.

‘Pay What You Can’ Café Aims to End Hunger in Danville

Oct 13, 2015
Stu Johnson / WEKU News


A restaurant offering a unique dining experience is attracting a crowd in Danville.  It’s called Grace Café and lunch there comes at a price, but how much of a cost is left up to the patron.  The restaurant’s founder says the objective is to reduce food insecurity in Boyle County.

Record Ticket Sales for Breeders Cup at Keeneland

Oct 9, 2015

The upcoming Breeders Cup Championships in Lexington is bringing in record ticket sales.  President Craig Fravel says sales have reached $19 million, surpassing the previous high of $10 million.  Fravel says that doesn't necessarily mean attendance will be a record breaker.   “You know we spent an awful lot of time and money creating a brand new campus over at Keeneland," he said.  It’s got a lot of trackside dining facilities, so it’s really more a function of high quality, high end seating arrangements."

Berea Voters Expand Alcohol Sales

Sep 30, 2015

A Berea tourism official says allowing limited alcohol sales will be great for the economic future of the southern Madison County town. Voters on Tuesday approved alcohol sales by the drink for restaurants with food sales of at least 70 percent of their total business and that can seat at least 50 people.  Assistant Tourism Director Kerri Lee Hensely believes the change can produce rippling economic impacts.

Kentucky Businesses Interested in Trade with Cuba

Sep 28, 2015

Representatives from the Kentucky World Trade Center are taking a business related trip to Cuba next month.  Lexington council members received an update last week of trade center activities. Center President Ed Webb says area business leaders approached him about a trip to Cuba. “Basically we said initially no because the embargo still exists,” Webb said. “It’s still in place which means we cannot do any kind of business activity except for humanitarian aid, which would be medical and food supplies.”

Lexington Revenues Much Higher Than a Year Ago

Sep 23, 2015

Early fiscal year reports of revenues in Lexington are promising, but the city’s finance commissioner is urging caution. Bill Omara offered a financial report to the council’s budget committee this week. Revenues are running some $7 million ahead of the same time a year ago, but Omara says to make any firm revenue predictions now would be premature.  “We’re in a favorable position after two months but two months into the year is too early to make predictions or look for trends,” said Omara.

Stu Johnson / WEKU News


Florida Governor Rick Scott was in Lexington Tuesday to announce the expansion of a Kentucky-based firm to his state.  Scott says there are better business opportunities in the sunshine state.

Experts Predict Eastern Ky Broadband Benefits Decades Away

Sep 18, 2015
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Government and business representatives are in Lexington this week for the Fiber for the New Economy Conference. Among the issues discussed at the meeting is the expansion of broadband into eastern Kentucky. Urban County Government Chief Information Officer Aldona Valicenti says local governments will pay a cost for the growth.  “And that last mile still will need additional investment and that will depend on what companies are willing to invest and what the cities can do in eastern Kentucky,” said Valicenti.

State Tobacco Research Board Holds Quarterly Meeting

Sep 15, 2015


Members of the Kentucky Tobacco Research Board were updated Monday during their quarterly meeting on the ongoing effort to lower nicotine levels in cigarettes.  A researcher with more than three decades of experience says a nicotine-free cigarette is not in the cards.

Lexington city council members are wrestling with the best approach to streamline design standards for downtown development.  The effort to establish rules for the city’s inner core stems from the demolition of a downtown block seven years ago to make way for the Centre Point development.  No decisions were made during a council committee meeting Tuesday.  Council member Jake Gibbs says instituting standardized rules does not mean an end to creativity.   “They provide for setbacks, height, configuration of parking, which in my mind is very important," explained Gibbs.

Lexington City Officials Aim to Improve Workforce Training Tactics

Aug 26, 2015

Lexington city officials this week are discussing ways to enhance workforce training strategies. Members of the council’s budget committee heard Tuesday from Commerce Lexington.

EKU Finance Professor Says Dust Not Settled on Wall Street

Aug 26, 2015

An Eastern Kentucky University finance professor believes it could be another month before the dust settles on Wall Street.

Work Begins on $80 Million Facility at Georgetown Toyota Plant

Aug 20, 2015

A groundbreaking at the Georgetown Toyota plant this week signaled the start of construction of an $80 million production engineering campus. Toyota is consolidating engineering services for vehicle assembly at the Georgetown complex. Spokesman Rick Hesterberg says, once completed, some 700 engineers will work at the new facility.  “The engineers that we’ll have at Georgetown aren’t product engineers, but they’re process," Hesterberg explained.

New Firm Steps Up to Take Over CentrePoint Project in Lexington

Aug 11, 2015


A New York based commercial real estate firm appears ready to take over downtown Lexington's high profile CentrePointe project.  But, it’s not a done deal.

Bridgeton Holdings is poised to invest millions to pump new life into the CentrePoint project.  The New York firm is listed as an owner, operator, and developer of commercial and residential real estate.  The new plan calls for $166 million to complete the high rise development, beyond what has already been spent.