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.
With too little distilled bourbon to meet demand, Maker's Mark is lowering the product's alcohol content from 90 to 84 proof.
Credit Credit Ed Reinke / AP
Kentucky is bourbon country. Bar shelves in Louisville are stocked with a crowded field of premium bourbons; the city's Theater Square Marketplace restaurant alone carries close to 170 different brands. So when news trickled out that longtime distillery Maker's Mark plans to water down its bourbon, locals were stunned. Bourbon has to be aged at least two years — and that's where Maker's Mark got in trouble. Chief Operating Officer Rob Samuels says the company simply didn't make enough.
Kentucky's General Fund tax revenues grew by 3.8 percent in January compared to figures from January 2012. That's an increase of $30.4 million, according to the state Budget Director Jane Driskell. Total revenues for the month were nearly $839 million compared to $908 million during January 2012. Receipts, according to a state news release, have grown 3.8 percent for the first seven months of the fiscal year.
Nearly a year after a tornado ravaged an eastern Kentucky community, the state today unveiled an economic aid package. The Morgan County community of West Liberty will receive an additional 30-million dollars in private, state and federal aid. West Liberty Chamber of Commerce Director Hank Allen says it’s hard to exaggerate the announcement’s significance. “But, I think it is safe to say that for a community our size and the tragedy that was here on March the second, you know it’s a monumental day for us,” said Allen.
It's now going to take a little more Maker's Mark to get you tipsy, not that Maker's is the sort of bourbon one drinks just to get tipsy. Nonetheless. Maker's Mark is reducing its alcohol by volume by three percent in an effort to meet increased demand, says an e-mail from executives to Maker's Mark Ambassadors.
Work continues to try and determine where Lexington mobile food vendors can set up shop downtown. Members of the Food Truck Work Group reviewed draft recommendations Thursday at city hall. Work Group Chair, Council member Shevawn Akers says many restaurants and mobile food operators still disagree about placement on public streets.
The results are in for the ninth annual Best Places to Work in Kentucky competition. Seventy-three companies were honored, but their rankings have not yet been released. Those will be announced April 16 at an awards dinner at the Lexington Center.
Kentucky ranks fourth in the nation for total light vehicle production, up from fifth in 2011. Kentucky ranked third nationally for production of passenger cars, and fourth for light trucks. In all, one in every 10 light vehicles produced in the United States during 2012 was made in Kentucky. Nearly all the cars produced in the state came from Toyota's Georgetown facility which increased its production by nearly 47 percent.
Business and government leaders in eight Southeast Kentucky counties continue to pool their economic recruitment resources. Members of the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce met Monday in Prestonsburg. Chamber President Jared Arnett says a multi-county approach to industrial development offers opportunities. “So, each one of these counties is promoting the assets they have. So, if you’re promoting an industrial park, but don’t have all the other pieces that are important to go along with that, it’s really a struggle in recruiting companies. So, our goal is to really fill up these industrial parks to look at small manufacturing,” said Arnett.
Shironda Young waited two years to get her job as a cook. It's become the best job she's ever had. Now, Young may have to give the job up because of recently announced cuts to a state program that gives financial assistance for child care to low-income working families. Young cooks for a university; she doesn't work in the summer. The staff at the day care for her four children have told her that she'll likely be denied entry into Kentucky's Child Care Assistance Program when she reapplies in fall 2013.
Standard & Poor’s Rating Services has downgraded Kentucky’s financial outlook from “stable” to “negative” amid concerns over unfunded liabilities in the state’s pension systems. While S&P noted the state is experiencing a healthy recovery in its economic base and has moderate debt burden, the ratings service said structural imbalances in the budget and sizable pension debts drove its outlook down.
Madison County citizens from teenagers to seniors worked together today to help plot the economic future for the bluegrass community. The Southern Growth Policies Board is assisting leaders from Richmond, Berea, and County governments to devise an economic development plan. Scott Doron is director of the Southern Technology Council. “We’re not into producing an eloquent theoretical plan that sits on a shelf. We want highly doable, high impact actions that can lead directly to economic growth,” said Doron.
A banner year for Kentucky’s automotive industry could carry over into 20-13. For the first time since 2007, production inside the Commonwealth topped one million vehicles. Recent renovations at the Louisville Assembly Plant have made it one of Ford’s most flexible, high volume plants. Scott Ellis with the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics says such flexibility translates easily into profits.
By Linda B. Blackford & The Lexington Herald-Leader
Lexington-based Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing operated a "massive pyramid scheme" involving more than 100,000 people and hundreds of millions of dollars, Kentucky and federal officials allege in a lawsuit against the company. The Corporate Drive headquarters and Danville warehouse of the multilevel marketing company were seized Monday, and the business was placed in receivership, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway announced during a news conference Monday afternoon. The lawsuit contends that more than 90 percent of the consumers who paid about $249 to join Fortune Hi-Tech lost their money.
For the first time since its inception, over a half million people last year travelled the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The new attendance record represents a 15 percent increase over 20-11. Kentucky Bourbon Trail Experience Director Adam Johnson says there were visitors from all 50 states and over 50 countries. “There’s places all along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail where you’ll just run into the guy that made it. Just the other day people were telling me how they ran into Jimmy Russell down at Wild Turkey. I mean, his name’s on a bottle. People just love seeing the rock stars of our industry,” said Johnson.
Low wage earning Kentuckians are again being urged to file for federal earned income tax credits. The plea came today/Friday from Governor Beshear in Lexington and Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson in Louisville. West Liberty resident Zach Engle got married, bought a home, and then lost his job a year ago. He was a tax credit beneficiary turned financial coach. “My wife and I just recently celebrated our one year anniversary. I have a job that I enjoy going to every day and I jumped at the opportunity given to me by my wonderful supervisor to become a vita volunteer tax preparer, giving me a chance to truly pay it forward,” said Engle.
Frankfort’s Jim Beam plant will begin bottling the Pinnacle Vodka and Calico Jack Rum brands, adding around 45 jobs, the company announced Thursday. A release from Beam Inc. said the transition will be done in stages, and it is expected to be complete by at least the end of March 2014.
Mayor Greg Fischer says negotiations to reopen the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park are close to completion, but the parties involved remain silent about a possible lease. If a deal is reached — which could come as early as Thursday when the Kentucky State Fair Board meets — the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau will commit $100,000 annually for five years to get the park up and running, according to media reports.
By Erik A. Carlson & Business Lexington & Erik Carlson
In his State of the Merged Government Address, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray was expected to tout the agreement reached by the city and police and fire union leaders to reign in the unfunded liability of the city’s pension system. During the speech, Gray announced the city had topped the 300,000 mark for population.
All aspects of transportation in Kentucky cover a lot of ground. Advocates from across the Commonwealth are gathering to discuss everything from pavement to air strips to barge traffic. More than 400 people are attending the 35th Kentucky Transportation Conference. Over the next 35 years, a staple of transportation, gasoline could take a back seat to electricity, natural gas, and even compressed air. That could have a big impact on taxes collected from the sale of gasoline.
Renovations to the University of Kentucky's football stadium and the University of Louisville are among the projects that will benefit from a bipartisan General Assembly agreement is allowing state universities to use their own ability to issue bonds for capital projects. The soon-to-be approved projects were rejected during 2012 budget negotiations, but will be revived once lawmakers pass an authorization bill, House Speaker Greg Stumbo says.
Given how much Kentucky’s budget depends on tobacco taxes, would a statewide smoking ban deal it a staggering blow? A new poll shows public support for a smoking ban is inching up every year. Though the ban likely won’t get a vote during this year’s General Assembly, state politicians are confronting those economic questions more directly.