Business and the Economy

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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.

More Than 4100 Yearlings Up for Auction at Keeneland

Aug 1, 2015

In mid-September, more than 4100 yearlings will be up for auction at Keeneland's fall sale.  September sale catalogs will be available a week from Tuesday.  Four thousand 164 yearlings are cataloged for the 72ndKeeneland September yearling sale.  The sale is globally regarded as the premiere Thoroughbred yearling auction.  The list includes five horses from the first crop of undefeated European champion 'Frankel.'  Yearlings sired by 249 stallions are cataloged for the sale which begins September 14th.  Of the more than four thousand listed to enter the ring, two thousand 168 are colts, on

Alltech Brewing and Distilling Planned for Pikeville

Jul 30, 2015

Alltech Incorporated is expanding its distillery and brewing business into far eastern Kentucky.  The alcohol business will feature a legendary Appalachian story.

Ground has been broken for Dueling Barrels Brewing and Distilling Company in downtown Pikeville.  The 13 million dollar combined brewery and distillery will feature its own range of beer and spirits including one called "moonshine."

This time next year, the landscape along the area in Magoffin County known as "restaurant row" will begin to change.  The Mountain Parkway, which runs through the Salyersville community, is expanding from two lanes to a four lane divided highway.  Salyersville Mayor Pete Shepherd says most residents seem untroubled about potential traffic jams.  "We're not worried about the traffic, we love the traffic,” Shepherd said.  “We're just worried about getting off the four lane to get access to some of our businesses, once it's completed."

Stu Johnson / WEKU News

    A leading aerospace engineering staffing firm is increasing its workforce by a hundred employees. Belcan is adding to its 10 year old fleet.

Keeneland Moves to Meet Anti-Doping Standard Adopted in Europe

Jul 22, 2015

A new condition of sale will be a part of Keeneland's September Yearling Sale.  It was established in response to the British Horseracing Authority's zero tolerance for anabolic steroids and other prohibited substances.  Keeneland Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell says the Lexington track has had a testing program in place for seven years.  "Obviously there was a concern fromthe BHA because they have initiated this policy,” said Russell. “Since we introduced our anabolic steroid testing, we have never had a positive."

Kentucky taxpayers got good news and bad news on Friday on the state's budget.

Governor Continues Promoting Ky Economic Recovery

Jul 6, 2015

Governor Steve Beshear continues to talk about economic gains in the Commonwealth.  On Monday, he brought a symbol of that success to an event in Lexington.

Court Upholds Louisville’s Minimum Wage Hike

Jun 29, 2015

An effort launched by industry groups to stop Louisville’s minimum wage law from going into effect was struck down by Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman on Monday.

Louisville Metro Council passed an ordinance in December that gradually raises the city’s minimum wage in the city to $9 an hour by July 2017.

The city was the first metro area in the South to put a minimum wage increase into law.

The ordinance starts getting phased-in starting this Wednesday.


It appears any vote on a minimum wage increase in Lexington will be months, if not years away.  A packed council chambers observed intense debate on the issue Tuesday.

Nicholasville Bypass Project to Begin by Next Year

Jun 22, 2015
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Governor Steve Beshear announced plans Monday for a major road project in Jessamine County. The long-awaited project has been on hold for years.  

The city of Nicholasville, like many in the region, has grown considerably over the years. Along with growth comes increased traffic. Governor Beshear says work on a remedy could begin this fall.  "After years of planning and talking, we're finally going to build the east Nicholasville Bypass," said Beshear.

DLIR photo

Kentucky officials say the state's unemployment rate held steady at 5.1 percent in May.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Gov. Steve Beshear and his wife, Jane, are headed to England this week to promote tourism in Kentucky.

A study measuring the economic impact of Kentucky’s automotive industry finds $1 out of every $13 in the state’s economy is tied to the industry.

Second Hemp Crop Planted in Ky

May 15, 2015
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Another industrial hemp season is off and running in Kentucky.  Hemp production is expected to grow by leaps and bounds this year.

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."