Despite cutbacks at Mammoth Cave National Park, there still are plenty of opportunities for the more than 500,000 people who visit the park annually. “Except for our heaviest days, most people will be able to get a cave tour,” park Superintendent Sarah Craighead told a group Monday. As part of complying with federal automatic spending cuts, the park did, at least for now, eliminate the Grand Avenue and Snowball tours, but that still leaves nine other tours.
Following recent expansions at Ford in Louisville and the General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant, an announcement of Toyota’s expansion further augments the automotive industry’s place in providing Kentuckians with jobs. Toyota’s $360 million expansion to build the Lexus ES 350 will mean 750 jobs for the Georgetown plant but will have ripple effects in the automotive supply industry that could touch southcentral Kentucky. Toyota will spend an additional $171 million to refurbish other parts of the plant.
For the first time, a Lexus vehicle will be produced in the United States and it will be made at the Georgetown Toyota plant. The formal announcement came this morning from officials in New York and Scott County. Governor Beshear says it means 750 new Kentucky jobs at Toyota. “We realize the care and the pride that you take in that vehicle and that it requires the utmost in a skilled workforce, not to mention top quality components. Your confidence in the quality of Kentucky’s workers, especially our team here in Georgetown is appreciated and well placed,” said Beshear.
Kentucky Space, a nonprofit focused on space research and education, has announced plans for a program to assist businesses with similar goals. Called Space Tango, the program will see investments in as many as six companies from across the country. Among the resources offered are technical and ground operations centers at the Morehead State University Space Science Center and the University of Kentucky Space Systems Laboratory. Kentucky Space also offers the ability to work with various NASA sites.
Toyota is planning an ambitious new project for its flagship Georgetown plant that might see it producing a new vehicle and adding 750 jobs. The news came Wednesday when the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority gave preliminary approval to $146.5 million in tax incentives for the project, which is shrouded in mystery. Katie Smith of the state's Cabinet for Economic Development told the KEDFA board that the project is a vehicle model that is new to the plant, which would produce 50,000 of them annually beginning in fall 2015. She declined to name the vehicle model.
Kentuckians concerned with agriculture, business and education spoke out in favor of the latest federal immigration proposal during a phone conference organized by the Partnership for a New American Economy. The immigration proposal is being considered in the U.S. Senate, thanks to a compromise by a group of eight senators from both political parties. The plan would create a 13-year path to citizens, expand work visas and attempts to tighten border security.
Weapons storage igloos at Bluegrass Army Depot, near Richmond.
Layoffs were announced today at the Bluegrass Army Depot near Richmond. Within a few months, at least 74 workers will lose their jobs, but another hundred are likely. In a sense, Colonel Brian Rogers is returning his command to a peace time footing. As America’s military commitment to Iraq and Afghanistan has shrunk, so has its need for munitions. The combat veteran says laying off workers is the hardest thing he’s ever done.
The group working to re-open the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park has gotten $10-million in sales tax credits from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority. The Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company will release details of their plans for the park, including information on refurbished and new rides.
A close-up of the Cleveland Whiskey label. It debuted in early March across Northeast Ohio
Credit Brian Bull)
On a recent Friday night, Clevelanders squeeze shoulder-to-shoulder inside the Market Garden Brewery and Distillery. They’re here for the launch party of Cleveland Whiskey. It’s available straight on the rocks, or in a number of cocktails. Sam McNulty is Market Garden’s proprietor. “People are loving it. The only problem is, we’re running out of it right now. So we’re running to the store and getting some more.”
New data from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet shows that coal production is down in Eastern Kentucky from previous years, and the region’s workforce is suffering. Coal production dropped more than 27 percent from 2011 to 2012 in Eastern Kentucky. This is the lowest production has been in the region since 1965. And as expected, coal mine employment fell in Eastern Kentucky too, by nearly 30 percent from the 2011 levels.
Summertime customers inspect produce offered by Berea College Farm.
Credit Berea College Farm.
Three roadside markets in Madison County have been added to a list created by the Kentucky Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau program helps consumers find roadside stands that offer fresh produce and good customer service. Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney runs such a retail outlet.
Off-road parks are expanding into a new region of Kentucky. The privately-owned “Rush Off-Road Park” is situated just outside Ashland. The seven-thousand acre facility opens April 20th. Besides traditional off-road vehicles, Kentucky Adventure Tourism Assistant Director Seth Wheat says such parks also accommodate more recent designs. “And then, they also have trails that can accommodate your newer style side by side vehicles like Polaris Rangers and things of that sort. They’ve got trails for jeeps and four by four trucks that have been modified and customized to climbs rocks and climb hills,” said Wheat.
Amazon’s decision to build a customer service center in Winchester earned an award from a national magazine for investment and community impact. Trade & Industry Development magazine listed Amazon, General Electric in Louisville and Berry Plastics in Madisonville among the nation’s top 30 economic development projects from 2012 and winners of the magazine’s Corporate Investment & Community Impact Awards.
Michael Zovath, senior vice president and co-founder of the Ark Encounter, in the collection room of Answers in Genesis with animals whose ancestors he said would have been on Noah's Ark. The company plans to build 510-foot-long replica of Noah's Ark on a site in Grant County. The project is being planned by Answers in Genesis, the organization that built the Creation Museum in Boone County.
Credit Patrick Reddy/The Kentucky Enquirer file photo
Developers of the Ark Encounter theme park expect to begin construction this year at its Grant County site. The attraction, which developers estimate will draw 1.6 million visitors the first year, is envisioned as a full-scale wooden ark that would ultimately include museums, theaters, amenities, event venues and outdoor parking.
FRANKFORT – Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings have placed Kentucky 10th in the nation for new and expanded industry activity in 2012. In 2012, Kentucky announced 354 location or expansion projects, resulting in 14,075 projected new full-time jobs and a capital investment estimated at nearly $2.7 billion.
The Department of Labor is sending more than $5 million to Eastern Kentucky to help laid-off coal miners and their families. $5,192,500, to be exact. The federal government announced the emergency grant today. In a press release, the agency said the money would go to providing re-training for miners and their spouses.
FRANKFORT — A new report from the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics shows 61 percent of graduates from the state’s public or private colleges in 2006 appear to be employed in Kentucky five years later. “This information is important to policymakers because it provides a preliminary gauge for the return-on-investment for education programs, and it helps us understand how likely our college graduates are to remain in Kentucky after they finish their credentials,” Charles McGrew, executive director of KCEWS, said in a statement.
Lexington is becoming a city known for its gamers. Actually, it might be more appropriate to say the bluegrass town is a home to a significant number of on line game creators. Jenna Greathouse is with Commerce Lexington, the city’s primary business collaborator. “We’ve got an awful lot of young people here that are developing on line software games, so we’re trying to help build that cluster of companies. So, we want people outside of Kentucky to know that we have the ability to do it here in Lexington and it’s actually taken place now,” said Greathouse.
The almost age old smell of roasting peanuts along Lexington’s Winchester road is expected to continue for years to come. J.M. Smucker is investing more than 40 million dollars in Lexington’s Jif plant. Daniel Lowry with the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet says the investment is important for the state’s economy. “They’re gonna make the plant better, you know they’re upgrading machinery. They’ll expand their production line to meet increased demand. So, things are going great for Jif. That’s what we want to hear. We want to make sure they can continue to compete and stay here in Kentucky,” said Lowry.
The Kroger Wine & Spirits store at Lexington's Hartland Shopping Center is separate from the Kroger grocery store. Liquor and grocery stores are waging a public relations battle over a legislative proposal that would prohibit wine and liquor sales in the actual grocery store.
Credit Lexington Herald-Leader
Kentucky grocery stores are fighting a proposal in this year's state legislature that would block their longtime goal of selling wine and liquor alongside other groceries. Some stores are distributing fliers to customers, urging them to tell their lawmakers to oppose House Bill 310. A consortium of grocers also ran full-page ads during the weekend against the legislation in newspapers in Lexington, Louisville, Ashland and Owensboro. Pushing the bill is a group formed late last year by independent liquor stores called Fighting Alcohol Consumption by Teens, or FACT.
Kentucky's agriculture leaders are supporting a new five year strategic plan to help the industry in the state. The plan, put together by the Kentucky Agriculture Council, puts emphasis on agriculture education, creating new markets and recruiting new people to farming.
Work on a plant that will neutralize chemical weapons at the Bluegrass Army Depot has hit a major milestone. The Munitions Demilitarization Building is now under roof. But work there could slow, unless Congress acts. Site Project Manager Jeff Brubaker says the money could run out next month. "We believe that additional funding will be made available shortly there after to keep the project moving forward. However, we cannot with 100 percent certainty say that there may not be some impact later in the year,” said Brubaker.
Imagine a top-flight racetrack in Eastern Kentucky with all the glamour and prestige of a premier entertainment venue married to the speed and electricity of Quarter Horse racing. Keeneland is envisioning just that. The Lexington Thoroughbred racetrack and sales company is teaming with Nevada-based Full House Resorts to buy the Thunder Ridge harness track in Prestonsburg for an undisclosed price and reinvent it as a Quarter Horse racetrack in the Corbin area, according to an exclusive story in Friday's Lexington Herald-Leader.
Since the recession that began in 2007, Lexington's housing market has been seeking a bottom from which to build. The market found it in 2012. Last year marked the first time since the mid-2000s that home sales grew compared to the year before, according to data released recently by the Fayette County Property Valuation Administrator's office. "That should be considered very encouraging," PVA David O'Neill said.
Ed Hart speaks to media outside of the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park.
Officials leading to group that’s expected to reopen the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park say their team is on the ground and money has been spent. The state fair board approved a lease agreement last month with the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company led by local businessman Ed Hart, who once operated the park before Six Flags took over. Hart's group agreed to spend $45 million in private funding over the first few years to reopen the park that’s been closed since 2009.