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.
RICHMOND - Local leaders and company officials of Asahi Bluegrass Forge in Richmond held a ribbon-cutting for the company’s new 70,000-square-foot manufacturing facility Wednesday. The new plant, located at 3007 Bill Robertson Way, represents a $20.3 million investment and the creation of 50 full-time jobs. Asahi Bluegrass Forge’s parent company is Asahi Forge Corporation, a Japanese company that specializes in producing such automotive parts as hub units, gears, transmission components, bearings and joints.
Shares of Lexington-based Tempur-Pedic International lost almost half their value Wednesday, after the high-end mattress company announced that it expects sales and earnings to decline in the second quarter. The decline is blamed on Tempur-Pedic's rivals all offering new foam-based mattress products and supporting them with advertising.
Getting more milk out of dairy cows might mean lengthening their productive lives. But, a dairy specialist at the University of Kentucky says more attention today centers on ‘longevity.’ Jeffrey Bewley says a cow typically lives about five or six years and, if healthy, produces three calves. “We’re shifting more toward research focused on improving longevity, improving the well being of the animal, improving the health of the animal, reproductive performance. So, there’s a lot more work in those areas than there is on just increasing milk production,” said Bewley.
Two Northern Kentucky counties have decided to stop giving funds to a major mental health service provider. The Boone County Fiscal Court voted unanimously Tuesday night to cease funding for NorthKey Community Care for the 2013 Fiscal Year that begins on July 1. NorthKey has 18 locations throughout Boone, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton, Owen and Pendleton Counties, including an inpatient hospital for children. It provides mental health, substance abuse and intellectual disability services. Earlier, Kenton Fiscal Court also pulled its NorthKey funding.
The Lexington Herald reports this morning layoff notices are going out to some University of Kentucky employees. UK spokesman Jay Blanton says administrators are gathering information from individual departments. He’s not speculating on how many people will face layoffs. In an e-mail to UK employees, President Eli Capilouto said the school has been cut 50 million dollars in state funding since 2007.
Work is currently under way at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky to install a new production line at the Georgetown plant to build engines for a variety of vehicles. The new line will add more than 80 jobs at the plant but won't be ready to begin production for more than a year.
LEXINGTON – Lexington-based Big Ass Fans will build a 72,000-square-foot facility in the city. The project will add 150 jobs and entail an $8 million investment. The expansion, according to a press release from the governor's office, includes 56,000 square feet for office space and 16,000 square feet for storage/warehouse space on Jaggie Fox Way in Lexington, where the company has an existing 45,000-square-foot research and testing facility. Big Ass Fans also plans to maintain its Lexington campus location off Winchester Road.
Lexington-based youth sports and activities broadcaster iHigh will announce Wednesday a nearly $12 million investment by Cox Media Group, which owns newspapers, television and radio stations nationally. Launched in 1999, iHigh encourages schools and organizations to upload or stream videos online of sporting events, meetings, performing arts and so forth.
The first three day holiday weekend of the summer is upon us and Triple A says car travel will be the preferred mode of transportation. In fact, Christopher Oakford at Bluegrass Triple A says more Kentuckians are expected to take a trip over 50 miles compared to last Memorial Day. Oakford says the auto club took a survey of motorists back in April.
FRANKFORT — Unemployment rates fell in 110 Kentucky counties between April 2011 and April 2012, while nine county rates increased and one stayed the same, according to the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training. Woodford County recorded the lowest jobless rate at 5.1 percent. It was followed by Shelby County, 5.8 percent; Fayette and Oldham counties, 5.9 percent each; Hancock County, 6 percent; Union County, 6.2 percent; Daviess and Ohio counties, 6.3 percent each; and Anderson, Calloway, Spencer and Webster counties, 6.5 percent each, according to a press release from the state.