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.
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.