Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate continued to fall going from 9.6 percent in June to 9.5 percent in July, according to the Office of Employment and Training. The preliminary July 2011 jobless rate dropped .7 percentage point below the 10.2 percent rate recorded in July 2010 for the state. The state’s July 2011 rate is the lowest since the January 2009 rate of 9.2 percent.
For the first time in more than a year, monthly residential home sales rose in Central Kentucky. The 11.1 percent July increase also was notable because the effects of the federal homebuyer tax credit, which primarily ended in June 2010, were not a factor. "We do have good comparisons now year over year, which we did not have before this month," said Barb Curtis, president of the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors.
Senior citizens across central Kentucky who are looking to hire someone for help around the house now have an online resource to connect with other seniors. The Bluegrass Area Agency on Aging and Independent Living is teaming up with the city of Lexington and the AARP to launch the new website, called the Bluegrass Help at Home Registry.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer provided more details regarding a new Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement that will require the two cities to collaborate rather than compete. The two executives spoke during the Commerce Lexington Public Policy Luncheon on Wednesday. Mayor Gray says the Brookings Institution, a public policy think-tank, has identified Lexington and Louisville as communities uniquely positioned to create advanced manufacturing jobs for the region.
It will probably be six months before Insight Communication customers notice a difference in their service, following Time Warner Cable’s $3 billion purchase of Insight on Monday. Now, all regulatory approvals will be sought on the federal level and with local governments, according to Jason Keller, a spokesman for Insight in Louisville. Once the sale is complete, Time Warner will be the largest cable provider in Kentucky.
A federal tobacco reform in October 2004 has changed the landscape of Jessamine County tobacco farming in 2011, Jessamine County Extension Agent Rob Amburgey said. “The tobacco buyout has significantly decreased the total amount of tobacco raised in Jessamine County,” he said. “It went from about 2,600 acres down to 400 acres now. We went from many, many tobacco farmers to about a dozen left in the county.”
Magistrates gave Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop approval to sign a lease agreement Tuesday with a Texas-based gas company, which has expressed interest into moving into a county-owned building in Coldiron. “This will bring somewhere between 50 and 60 jobs, and they plan on adding anything from 10 to 20,” said Grieshop. “This would become their headquarters and workers from four counties would be coming to Harlan."
East Kentucky Power Cooperative will save approximately $5 million per year after renegotiating the terms of a three-year $450 million credit facility, according to a statement released by the company. The cooperative closed on the credit facility in 2010 to provide “the liquidity from day-to-day to make sure we have the cash in hand that East Kentucky needs,” Nick Comer, EKPC representative, said in a recent interview. “We don’t have a group of shareholders like Microsoft or Walmart or Ford Motor Co.”
Across the U.S., the unemployment rate sits at 9.1 percent. In Kentucky, it's 9.6 percent. But among Kentucky's National Guard members, the amount of people without a full-time civilian job is 15-20 percent, depending on how many units are on active duty deployment. Brenna Angel reports on why it's hard for citizen soldiers to find and keep a job, and what the military is doing to help.
National cable giant Time Warner Cable, which operates in many areas in Central Kentucky, announced Monday that it will acquire Insight Communications, the largest cable operator in Lexington and Kentucky, in a $3 billion deal. Many in the industry have long expected the deal, given that Insight's operations are so close geographically to some of Time Warner Cable's and that Insight's ownership shopped the company around in 2007.
The local school board voted 4-1 to raise the weekly cost of child care in the Henderson County school district effective Sept. 1 to help meet state requirements that say the child care program must be self-sustaining. School board member Lisa Baird made the motion on Monday to raise the weekly charge from $85 to $100 for children in the 3- to 4-year-old program when they attend a full day of child care, which is essentially daycare.
Western Kentucky farmers watched this weekend as chances of rain evaporated and their crops dried up even more. The Kentucky Agriculture Statistics Service reported last week that soybeans and tobacco were considerably behind last year’s development. Some soybean fields “aborted” their blooms due to the heat. The blooms are what produce the pods.
Officials at Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport are continuing to work to bring commercial air service to the city and region. Rob Barnett, airport manager, said the airport is constantly discussing options with several leisure destination carriers as well as business-hub connectors. “We’re still continuing to try to meet with air route developers and work with them,” Barnett said. He added that development of new routes at regional airports has come to a virtual standstill.
Hardin Memorial Hospital must pay more than $3.1 million to the federal government as part of an $8.9 million agreement involving claims of improper Medicare billing dating back to 2001. Stephanie Collins, public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Kentucky, said the settlement does not concern patient care or diagnoses. No criminal allegations were made and no court proceedings are pending.
Community leaders and officials from FP International in Hopkinsville announced Thursday the company will add a machine build operation to its Christian County facility. The project will result in 60 new machine manufacturing jobs over the next several years and a $3 million investment.
At the 2011 Leadership Louisville luncheon at the Galt House East on Thursday, the mayors of Lexington and Louisville went before more than 1,000 leaders to pitch their vision for a regional economic development initiative to improve the cities' competitiveness in advanced manufacturing. Mayors Jim Gray and Greg Fischer pointed to the Toyota plant in Georgetown and the Ford and GE plants in Louisville as evidence that the state's two largest urban areas already are a center of advanced manufacturing, but it can do more.
Community and airport leaders Thursday announced a plan to expand the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport terminal. The expansion will create additional flights while significantly increasing the size of the waiting area, baggage handling and pick-up areas. The project will add three full-time and several part-time positions, according to a press release from Gov. Steve Beshear's office.
Jessamine County comes in as the 18th-largest county in the state of Kentucky when comparing populations of the 120 counties. But when it comes to calculating how much funding Jessamine County gets for child support from the state government, 30 counties are receiving more money than Jessamine, county attorney Brian Goettl said.
The initial planning for a super region between Louisville and Lexington has begun. The Brookings Institution is helping the cities put together a plan for an economic partnership centered around manufacturing jobs. In particular, it will look at how best to lure more auto industry jobs to Louisville, Lexington or nearby cities.
A new report says environmental controls on vehicles could help Kentucky’s economy. The study, conducted by the United Autoworkers Union, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Wildlife Federation, found that stronger fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks will help create thousands of clean energy jobs in Kentucky and around the country.
Kentucky's General Fund tax receipts for July, the first month of fiscal year 2012, were more than $638 million, a 6.9 percent increase compared to July 2010 figures. "Kentucky has seen a strengthening of General Fund revenue collections for the past five quarters and the Commonwealth’s economic recovery is continuing into the new fiscal year," state Budget Director Mary Lassiter said in a press release Wednesday. “The Consensus Forecasting Group last week affirmed that revenue growth is ahead of pace by predicting that General Fund receipts will exceed the budgeted levels by $192.0 million,” she said. “While we are cautiously optimistic about the revenue outlook, we still have a challenge ahead to balance the budget this fiscal year.”
With Texas Governor Rick Perry's recent prayer rally and a new deal guaranteeing Kentucky's Ark Encounters project property tax breaks, the sometimes tricky relationship between politics and religion is on display again. In the case of the bible-based theme park, some worry all the business incentives are signs that church and state getting too cozy.
Black Mountain Thunder, the zipline attraction at Harlan County's Outdoor Recreation Park, is nearing completion. Planners anticipate a "soft opening" toward the end of this month with a "grand opening" type of event during a fall color weekend in October.
Elizabethtown has captured the top ranking in personal income percentage growth in 2010. The Elizabethtown Metropolitan Statistical Area earned the top spot with 10.1 percent growth for last year compared to 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. That’s the greatest percent growth of the nation’s 366 metropolitan statistical areas.
Toyota Motor Corp. has been knocked from its spot as the world’s largest automaker. General Motors Co. said it sold 4.5 million vehicles worldwide in the first six months of 2011. Volkswagen AG of Germany claims the second spot with 4.13 million vehicles sold. Toyota fell to No. 3 with 3.7 million vehicles sold, a drop of 11 percent from a year earlier.
The city of Williamstown in Grant County has agreed to give a biblically themed amusement park a property tax discount of 75 percent over the next 30 years. Mayor Rick Skinner said the offer is laid out in a memorandum of agreement that will be followed by a formal tax-increment financing deal with Petersburg-based Ark Encounters LLC in coming months. The tax deal is in addition to almost $200,000 given to the company by Grant County's economic development arm as an enticement to keep the project located there, along with 100 acres of reduced-price land.
Hiring for temporary positions for Kentucky’s 107th State Fair began on Monday. Around 850 people lined up to fill 275 positions. As WFPL reported, applications will be accepted up until the last day of the fair on Aug. 28.“Some people can only work a couple days a week. We need to hire more people who can work throughout the entire run of the fair,” said Amanda Storment with the Kentucky State Fair Board.
Hardin County officials say expanded alcohol sales will help the area capitalize on future developments further north.
On October 4th, voters in Elizabethtown, Radcliff and Vine Grove will vote on whether to allow alcohol sales at package liquor stores and in restaurants.
“We become a more attractive location, I think, for some younger professionals and professionals when we’ve got more entertainment options and more restaurant options,” says Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Richardson.
Richardson hopes expanded sales will attract businesses and residents drawn to the area by Fort Knox. He adds that the appeal would also help the cities if Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s plans for a super-region with Lexington and a stronger I-65 corridor come to fruition.
The entire Kentucky delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives supports a bill to change the federal tax code to benefit the commonwealth’s bourbon industry. Lawmakers contend there is inequality in the Internal Revenue Service because bourbon is aged and must be carried in storage for extended periods compared to other distilled spirits. Introduced by Congressmen Geoff Davis and Ben Chandler earlier this year, the Aged Distilled Spirits Competitiveness Act of 2011 seeks to exempt the natural aging process in the production for distilled spirits. It would allow distillers to deduct the interest expense to pay for their inventory as those costs are incurred.