The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is taking a firmer stand on conservative issues. Republican legislators have criticized the chamber in the past for supporting Democratic-led proposals like expanded gambling and a higher dropout age while staying quiet on so-called right to work and prevailing wage laws.
On this week's edition of Kentucky Tonight, host Bill Goodman and guests will discuss jobs and the economy. The program that airs "live" Monday evening at 8:00 on KET, repeats Tuesday morning at 11:00 on 88.9 WEKU and our network of stations in Central and Southeastern Kentucky.
When it comes to rainfall, it may be a case of ‘too little-too late’ for Kentucky’s corn growers. This summer’s drought hit western Kentucky corn fields first and hard. In Union County, which is the leading corn producer in the Commonwealth, Extension Agent Rankin Powell says soils are very deep and hold water well. It gives Powell reason for hope, but he still worries, any improvement in this year’s corn crop is unlikely.
Federal changes in disaster designation procedures could benefit drought stricken farmers across Kentucky. Governor Beshear says he applauds U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s work to speed up the process. The Ag secretary says the process for disaster declarations will be simplified and cut the processing time nearly in half for most counties.
Kentucky’s Secretary of State has issued a good news-bad news report on business filings. Some 192 thousand entities across Kentucky are required to file annual reports. More than 155 thousand met the recent deadline. That’s a higher percentage than usual. But, almost 37 thousand businesses failed to file in a timely manner.
A group of Kentucky beer brewers have joined together to give themselves a louder voice in state matters. The Kentucky Guild of Brewers is made up of nine local breweries from Louisville, Lexington and Danville. In a statement, the guild says its purpose is in part "to act as a singular voice and advocate for the Kentucky brewing industry in all pertinent matters of legislation and governmental administration."
FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear Monday signed into law a bill designed to spur job creation and significant investments in Kentucky’s automotive and parts manufacturing facilities. “This legislation will open doors for significant investments in the automotive industry, which plays a vital role in Kentucky’s economy, employing more than 68,000 people in the Commonwealth,” Beshear said in a statement issued by his office. “The success of the industry and the investments that result from this legislation will have far-reaching economic effects throughout all of Kentucky.”
Word today of a new e-commerce center in Boone County which is bringing 696 full time jobs to the northern Kentucky region. Elovation Services’ move amounts to a 13 point seven million dollar investment in the commonwealth. The firm will lease a 150 thousand square foot facility in Boone County to serve as its parcel grading and processing center for e-commerce.
Traffic congestion created some serious problems for last year’s inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kentucky Speedway. This year’s event may be remembered for the high heat along with the competition. The racing is scheduled in the evening, but qualifying does take place during the day. Spokesman Tim Bray says visitors to the track can find shade on site. “We are practicing and qualifying during the day…so we encourage fans to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate…and in addition to that…there are places underneath the grandstands and Kentucky tower and the Ohio tower so they can get out of the heat,” said Bray.
After years of hopes followed by months of anticipation, Trader Joe's opened a Lexington store at 8 a.m. Friday. The gourmet grocery, on Nicholasville Road, is expected to be wildly popular, and those unfamiliar are in for a unique shopping trip, industry observers say. "Walking into a Trader Joe's is an experience, ... because you don't know what you're going to come across," said Mark Mallinger, a Pepperdine University professor who has followed the privately held company for years. "New products come and go.
Lexington financial crimes detective Gene Haynes swiped a credit card through an innocuous black card reader known as a "skimmer." Less than a second later, two lines of illuminating text showed up in a Microsoft Word document on his computer screen. The mishmash of numbers and symbols was the visual representation of all the information stored on the card's magnetic strip. "That's all it takes" for a credit card to be compromised, he said.
UPDATED: More than 500 Kentucky miners in several counties, and an additional 250 at a mine in West Virginia, are being laid off by Arch Coal. Arch Coal is expected to issue a statement later Thursday, said Bill Bissett, Kentucky Coal Association president.
FRANKFORT — Unemployment rates fell in 107 Kentucky counties between May 2011 and May 2012, while 12 county rates increased and one stayed the same, according to the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training. Woodford County recorded the lowest jobless rate in the Commonwealth at 5.3 percent. It was followed by Hancock County, 5.5 percent; Shelby County, 6.1 percent; Fayette County, 6.2 percent; Union County, 6.3 percent; Daviess and Oldham counties, 6.5 percent each; Calloway and Franklin counties, 6.6 percent each; and Ohio County, 6.7 percent, according to a state news release.
Just a day after the family that owns and operates the Holiday World amusement park at Santa Claus, Ind. said they were withdrawing from their plans to reopen the now-closed Kentucky Kingdom park in Louisville, two other amusement park companies have expressed interest in reopening the park.
Reduced hours and staff will be the new reality for many health departments across Kentucky starting in July as they deal with funding shortages and changes. Though the total amount of state funding to local health departments has not gone down, the way it is allocated has changed.
To ease budget cuts, Franklin County Health Department employees will have to take 12 furlough days next year, director Paula Alexander announced Friday. “Yes, that is considerable,” Alexander said after the news was met with a collective gasp at Friday’s Fiscal Court meeting. “That is little over a paycheck.”
KIRIU USA is now making 3.6 million brake rotors a year, something which is forcing the Bowling Green auto-industry supplier to expand. So the company will spend about $10 million to bring in new equipment for two new production lines and to add onto its existing building, according to company President and CEO Mark Kimura.
FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear Friday announced a statewide effort to connect returning members of the National Guard, Reserve and other veterans with job openings in Kentucky. Joined by military, veteran, workforce and business leaders at the annual state convention of Disabled American Veterans, Beshear unveiled the Hiring Kentucky Heroes partnership and web resource that will bring together veterans seeking jobs with employers needing workers.
After nine months of planning, Bluegrass Boardwalk, Inc. has withdrawn its proposal to re-open the Kentucky Kindgom theme park. According to a release, Bluegrass Boardwalk owners the Koch family—who also own Holiday World in southern Indiana—say leasing the park from the state would not fit in their business model. Further, CEO Natalie Koch cites "the many layers of governmental regulations and stipulations" as a reason for withdrawing.
Motorists across Kentucky are keen to the fact that when it comes to predicting gasoline prices, it is far from an exact science. It’s not unusual to find pump prices in one town 20 to 30 cents lower than in a community less than a half hour away. Petroleum Anaylst Patrick DeHaan with Gas Buddy dot com says sometimes several stations are owned by one retailer. “Sometimes we find these wild swings where some communities have raised their price to follow the leader and in areas where there is no leader prices might not necessarily rise that much,” said DeHaan.
The decline in the number of dairy farms continues in Kentucky. A decade ago, State Dairy Marketing Specialist Eunice Schlappi says the Commonwealth had about two thousand dairy farms. Schlappi says that number is down to about 850 today. “Much of that is due to the fluctuation of milk prices..the higher cost of inputs…and also the next generation not wanting to stay on the farm because of the hours involved..the returns,” said Schlappi.
As Kentucky American Water expands its business, there should be little impact on customers in Lexington. But, by serving new communities, company president Cheryl Norton thinks they can better hold prices steady. “It’s unlikely that they would go down..what we would hope to do is stabilize the rates..because we continue to invest 20 to 25 million dollars each year in renewing the infrastructure that’s already in the ground..so there’s a continual investment which drives additional rates,” said Norton.
FRANKFORT – American Fuji Seal will expand operations in Bardstown, creating new 45 jobs and making a $10 million investment at its plant. “Here’s another shining example of a Japanese-owned business that has found success by locating its North American headquarters in Kentucky,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a news release from his office. “We’re thrilled to see American Fuji Seal succeed, expand its footprint in the Commonwealth, invest millions of dollars here and create dozens of full-time jobs for Kentuckians.”
FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear Tuesday announced Area Development magazine has recognized Kentucky with a Silver Shovel Award, acknowledging states which were the most successful in creating jobs and securing investments in new and expanding facilities in 2011.
LOUISVILLE – Louisville and Lexington companies have the capacity to significantly increase their exports — and thus grow the regional economy and create jobs — if business leaders have support when accessing foreign markets. A new program, fueled in part by Louisville Metro’s Innovation Delivery Team, aims to help businesses navigate the complexities of international business and begin exporting their products and services. The goal is to increase the number of companies that export by 50 percent within the next five years, according to a state news release.
The Kentucky Horse Council has finished the first phase of a horse show facility listing data base. The database, available through the Kentucky Horse Council, lists both public and private facilities which are available for public rental. K-H-C Competition Committee chair, Margie Loeser says, “We hope this encourages more local, grassroots horse shows, as well as facilitates the on-going success of established sanctioned shows.”
Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric will request a rate increase later this month from the Kentucky Public Service Commission. The company is proposing an increase of about seven percent for both electric and gas base rates. If it’s approved, it will raise the typical residential customer’s bill by about $10.65 per month beginning next year.
Later this month, Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric will ask the state Public Service Commission for permission to raise rates to pay for a series of generation and transmission upgrades made in recent years. The proposal is the latest in a series of increases over the past couple of years. For KU customers, the proposal would amount to an increase of $82.4 million, or 6.5 percent. For a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours on average, a monthly bill would increase by $6.98.
Lexington’s mayor is convinced a waterfront could someday greet downtown visitors. Jim Gray was among a group of community leaders just back from a Commerce Lexington trip to San Antonio. “A lot of people came back from San Antonio thinking , ‘hey’, this town branch idea, is viable,” said Gray. The San Antonio River Walk is known for its entertainment, restaurants, and shops. Gray says Lexington’s town branch creek offers such an opportunity to enhance the quality of life locally.