For Toyota, it is time to put the last four years in the rearview mirror. That has been the automaker’s message for the past few weeks with a string of announcements worldwide that make it clear Toyota is putting the pedal to the metal in plant expansions, new and redesigned products with an eye on the future.
Kentucky's unemployment rate continued its descent in April, dropping to 8.3 percent from 8.6 percent in March. It marked the lowest unemployment rate since November 2008. While it's improving, the state's unemployment rate continued to lag the national rate, which fell to 8.1 percent in April from 8.2 percent in March, according to data provided by the state Office of Employment and Training. During the month, the state's civilian labor force decreased slightly.
Time Warner Cable has told former Insight sales employees in Lexington that it will restructure the team and will require employees to reapply for jobs in the revamped structure. The employees affected sell cable advertisements locally, and Time Warner Cable spokeswoman Mary Jo Green said the decision affects upwards of 50 employees, primarily in Kentucky, including more than a dozen in Lexington.
In a long-awaited announcement, gourmet grocery Trader Joe's said Wednesday it will open its first Lexington store at 8 a.m. June 29. Construction is nearly complete on the grocery at 2326 Nicholasville Road, the former site of Joe's Crab Shack. The 12,000-square-foot grocery will have a separate wine shop of about 3,000 square feet. This will be Trader Joe's second Kentucky store. The first one opened in October at 4600 Shelbyville Road in Louisville.
President Obama is chiding Congress for not acting on his slimmed down plan to spur economic growth. Election year politicking is expected to derail this latest effort to get the economy moving in states like Kentucky. The president laid out a “to do” list for Congress. He once again asked lawmakers to help lower interest rates on mortgages for millions of homeowners. Kentucky Republicans, like Senator Rand Paul, aren’t buying it.
The head of Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport is predicting that US Airways will eventually acquire the struggling American Airlines, and he’s not looking forward to that merger. American Airlines filed for bankruptcy in November. Eric Frankl, executive director at Blue Grass Airport, says a deal between American and US Airways may have a negative impact on central Kentucky travelers.
A well known on-line retailer is expanding its central Kentucky operations by hiring more than eleven hundred people. Clark County will feel the most direct impact. Amazon-dot-com will open a 70 thousand square foot customer service center in Winchester. The 20 million dollar investment is expected to create over 500 full time jobs and another 600 seasonal positions. Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner says his town is ideally located and offers a seasoned workforce.
Officials with Churchill Downs Incorporated say increased Internet wagering has boosted first quarter earnings. CDI gained $1.3 million in the first three months of this year. CDI officials say because of the lack of live racing days it’s common to see losses in first quarter earnings, but CDI’s Chief Financial Officer Bill Mudd said there has been a 5 percent increase in wagering nationwide and CDI has always been ahead of the game.
State and company officials gathered at the Toyota visitors center Tuesday to announce the latest expansion of the auto maker's flagship manufacturing plant. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear was on hand to announce Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky will expand its operation to produce more 4-cyclinder motors in the Georgetown plant. The company is spending approximately $30 million to update a currently unused assembly line to produce more than 100,000 engines each year.
The economic impact of tourism in Kentucky amounted to nearly $11.7 billion in 2011, Gov. Steve Beshear and Tourism, Arts and Heritage Secretary Marcheta Sparrow announced Monday in a state press release. The economic impact figure is a 3 percent increase from 2010. “Despite a tough economy, the Kentucky tourism industry continues to shine,” Beshear said. “These figures underscore the importance of tourism in Kentucky as well as in every community across the Commonwealth.”
A group of three economists hopes to provide key input to Kentucky’s tax commission this summer. The Blue Ribbon Tax Commission picked three professors to act as consultants as the group considers changes to the state’s tax code. Two are from the University of Kentucky and one is from the University of Tennessee. UK professor William Hoyt will serve as the principal investigator. He says the selection was an honor, and his goal for the group is to produce a slew of options to the commission.
Xerox, already one of Lexington's largest employers, plans to hire more than 300 people in several job categories over the next few months at its call center in Lexington. Past hiring at the Lexington Xerox call center, formerly known as ACS before that company was acquired by Xerox in 2010, has paid customer service representatives a starting wage of about $10 an hour.
The University of Kentucky Athletics Department and Toyota were the two largest donors to a task force that recently developed a plan to revitalize Rupp Arena and the surrounding portion of downtown. UK Athletics gave $50,000 and Toyota gave $35,000 to the group, which raised $380,950, according to a list obtained by the Herald-Leader under the Open Records Act. Many of the other donors included members of the task force, including Greg Goodman, whose Mount Brilliant Family Foundation gave $10,000. W.T. Young LLC gave $20,000. Young's son Chris served on the task force.
This year’s ‘Earth Week in Kentucky’ celebration focuses on the state Division of Forestry’s 100th anniversary. Much of the division’s work centers on Kentucky’s four to five billion dollar wood products industry business. State Forester Leah MacSwords says the timber harvested here is used in numerous products. “All kinds of forest products are made from Kentucky’s wood…everything from cabinets and flooring.. to mill work to pallets…so we have a very robust forestry industry in the state of Kentucky,” said MacSwords.
The scrap metal industry in Lexington is asking the Urban County Council to scrap its plan to license the sellers of copper or other metals. The new regulations are suggested as a way to cut down on copper and other metal thefts. Ken Cowen’s Ohio firm owns Lexington’s Baker Iron and metal. To combat theft, Cowen says scrap metal firms are willing to employ off duty police officers. Then, Cowen says, they could check the seller’s I-D.
As Pike County officials continue to discuss the county’s “dire” financial situation, a bold suggestion from a Pike magistrate to help alleviate some of the strain seems to have fallen on deaf ears. At Tuesday’s meeting of the Pike County Fiscal Court, District 5 Magistrate Hilman Dotson, while arguing that the county’s currently idled swimming pools should be reopened, suggested that he and other county officials take a pay cut to help ease some of the financial burden the county is facing ahead of a projected multi-million-dollar budget shortfall in the coming year. Dotson’s suggested 10 percent pay reduction for county officials found little support among other court officials.
Annual unemployment rates were lower in 105 Kentucky counties in 2011 than in 2010, according to the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training in the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. In addition, 14 Kentucky counties had a higher annual unemployment in 2011 than in 2010 while the unemployment rate in Laurel County remained the same for both years, according to a press release issued by the state.
In the year 2012, the ‘download’ remains the predominant format in music sales. However, the owner of a Lexington independent music business says vinyl continues to make a move on compact discs. The fifth annual Record Store Day celebration will be held tomorrow. Pops Resale owner, Daniel Shorr says record sales are going well. “To show the fact that records not only aren’t dead..they’re really quite alive and vibrant..they’re on track hopefully this year to surpass c-d sales,” said Shorr.
Eight construction firms are about to bid for the job of building the Centre Pointe project in downtown Lexington. It might be considered an indication the revitalization effort is building momentum. Last week, plans were unveiled that convert the old Fayette National Bank Building into a 21-C Museum Hotel. Just a block away sits the proposed site of the high-rise Centre Pointe project. Developer Dudley Webb expects eight construction managers to submit bids for the work within the next three weeks.
Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent in March 2012 from a revised 8.7 percent in February 2012, making this the third consecutive month with an unemployment rate below 9 percent, according to the Office of Employment and Training, an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.
A study by a company that helps secure data on Web sites suggests Lexington sees more fraudulent online transactions than other cities its size. The study by ThreatMetrix, which used data from the 5,000 Web sites that use its software, found Lexington had the 10th highest percentage of originating online fraud among 150 major cities. Lexington ranked behind New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Omaha, Dallas, San Francisco, Houston and Washington D.C.
A Lexington organization that tracks the community’s economic pulse is expressing optimism about 2012. Commerce Lexington’s Jenna Greathouse says they’re working with 39 businesses interested in central Kentucky. Greathouse says that compares with 27 firms at the same point last year. “So when we’re seeing more people coming and looking at Lexington..coming from other cities and states to see what we have to offer…for an expansion of a new business..a relocation of a company..that kind of thing, …yeah I think it’s a good indicator,” said Greathouse.
With a May 15 deadline looming, the American Postal Workers Union is pressuring Congress to pass legislation that would allow the U.S. Postal Service to fix some of its problems. Full-page newspaper advertisements urge residents to tell U.S. senators and representatives “to fix the USPS without destroying service or eliminating 100,000 jobs.” The Postal Service plans to close thousands of post offices, including many in Kentucky, and hundreds of processing centers, including the one in Bowling Green. Its plans require a $22.5 billion reduction in annual costs by 2016.
A solar panel company has announced plans to build a manufacturing plant in south-central Kentucky. Alabama-based Taggart Solar’s plant in Edmonson County is expected to create about 30 jobs. The company plans to invest $440,000 into an industrial park in Park City and hire at least 30 workers to assemble components into photovoltaic solar panels.
Gov. Steve Beshear Tuesday announced DRC Industries, a packaging materials supplier, plans to acquire an additional 126,000-square-foot facility and add 25 jobs in Carroll County. The project entails a $2 million investment by the company. “The growth we’re seeing at DRC Industries is exciting and highlights the successful efforts of a dedicated workforce here in the Commonwealth,” Beshear said in a press release from his office. “Not only does this mean DRC Industries will spend millions of dollars here in Kentucky, but it also adds up to 25 new jobs for Kentucky citizens, and that is great news.”
Gov. Steve Beshear Tuesday announced an initiative to help Kentucky’s small airports by increasing the state’s contribution toward a required local match on federal grant funds. Approximately $425,000 in additional funds from the state will be used to offset an increased cost-sharing requirement for Federal Aviation Administration entitlement grant funding at Kentucky’s 46 general aviation airports, according to a press release from Beshear's office.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has signed a bill into law that gives tax incentives to automakers in Kentucky. The new law allows manufacturers and suppliers to tap the incentives if they have 1,000 employees, have been in business in Kentucky for at least five years and are willing to invest $100 million in the state. The law is an extension of a 2007 program that allowed Ford to invest more than one billion dollars into its two Louisville plants to expand the workforce and re-tool assembly lines.
Boone Tavern has long been known as a place for iconic Southern fare such as spoonbread or "chicken flakes in a bird's nest," a dish of creamed chicken served over a crispy shell of shredded potatoes. Although "tavern" is part of its name, the 103-year-old hotel and restaurant has never sold alcohol. Nevertheless, out-of-town diners often ask for drinks with their meals. That could change in the wake of last week's East Berea Precinct vote of 146 to 57 favoring the limited sale of alcohol by the drink at Boone Tavern. Whether that actually happens is up to the 30-member board of trustees of Berea College, which owns Boone Tavern.
Serco, a travel and hospitality company, is expanding its reach in the industry by creating 125 jobs at its Campbellsville center. The international service company acquired Intelenet Global Services last year in order to partner global travel with hospitality services for worldwide clientele. “Kentucky welcomes Serco’s growth and success in Campbellsville,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a statement.
If there's one universal truth, surely it's that dogs can't be cats. Right? Wrong. It turns out that in the wake of the University of Kentucky's eighth men's basketball championship, even dogs can dress as the Cats, courtesy of Fan Outfitters and its line of UK T-shirts for dogs. The canine clothing is one of numerous ways a variety of Lexington businesses, including restaurants, banks, local media and the post office, are cashing in on the Cats' victory. "I've never seen anything like it," said Joe Kawaja, president of Lexington-based collegiate retailer Fan Outfitters. "Fourteen years of pent-up demand is a great thing."