Friday marks the beginning of the 75th spring meet at Keeneland. While history is a big part of racing at the Lexington track, officials there are working to incorporate new programs. Keeneland’s Julie Balog says, over the next three weeks, fractional wagering will be available. Balog says this approach allows bettors to put more horses in a wager but bet in smaller increments. Overall, she says, betting figures are starting to rebound.
National grain specialists are predicting a record amount of corn crops could go in the ground this spring. A rise in corn yields has been a trend in the commonwealth. University of Kentucky Extension Professor of Grain Crops, Chad Lee says Kentucky’s corn acreage could go up about ten percent this year. Lee says the profit potential is partly the result of warmer than usual weather. He says, in the bluegrass, corn has gone from being the number three crop to number one in the last few years.
Five companies are vying to build the downtown portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project. Kentucky is in charge of appointing a firm to build a new bridge between downtown Louisville and southern Indiana. The company will also rework Spaghetti Junction. The deadline for applications was this week, and transportation cabinet officials will spend the next few weeks reviewing the submissions.
Twenty-six Courier-Journal employees will take buyouts from the paper’s parent company Gannett. Gannett offered the buyouts earlier this year to employees over 56-years-old and with at least 20 years of service to the company. Eighteen of the employees who accepted the buyouts came from the Courier’s news department. The buyouts reduce the paper’s editorial page staff to one: Pam Platt will remain. Only one news employee will be replaced, marking another reduction in the paper’s reporting staff.
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved a proposal Thursday that would give $10.25 million in Kentucky business incentives to a subsidiary of Amazon.com, should it choose to open a $20-million customer support center in Winchester. To receive the full tax credit from the state, the company, AMZN.wacs Inc, would have to create 550 full-time jobs and 600 part-time and seasonal jobs, said Todd Denham, executive director of the Winchester-Clark County Industrial Authority. The jobs would have an average hourly pay of $20.33 with benefits. The 70,000-square-foot center, Denham said, would be built on a seven-acre site to be determined.
Kentucky tourism hopes to cash-in on the Final Four matchup between the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville. State officials hope it attracts more visitors to the Bluegrass State. Tourism officials hope Kentucky’s prominent place in college basketball’s Final Four will attract more out-of-state visitors. Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism Deputy Commissioner, Hank Phillips sees Saturday’s contest between the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville as a marketing opportunity
Floods in 20-11 and this year’s tornadoes could complicate the tax returns filed by Kentucky farmers. For example, when farmers receive an insurance check for damaged crops, I-R-S spokesman Luis Garcia says they must claim that money as income. And, if bad weather forces the early sale of livestock, Garcia says that income can sometimes be claimed on next year’s tax return.
Kentucky's unemployment rate remained below 9 percent in February, dropping to 8.7 percent. That's down a tad from 8.8 percent in January, which marked the first time in three years that the jobless rate had been below 9 percent. February was the eighth consecutive month that the rate has declined, according to the state Office of Employment and Training. However, the state's measure continued to lag the national rate, which remained at 8.3 percent.
In Kentucky alone, the number of registered farmers markets grew from 96 in 2004 to about 150 last year. That doesn't count roadside stands or local produce sold in supermarkets. Other farmers sell a portion of their crop to local consumers even before a seed is planted. Such business models represent a big shift away from the mass production emphasized on most American farms since World War Two.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. President Will James has been named to Savoy Magazine’s 2012 Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America. The Savoy Top 100 can be found in its 11th Anniversary Spring issue and is considered the definitive listing of African-American influencers and achievers impacting corporate America.
Gov. Steve Beshear Monday announced 17 high-tech Kentucky companies will share $6.2 million in state funds as part of a program to support and attract technology-based small businesses. Through the state’s competitive Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Matching Funds program, Kentucky matches all or part of federal awards received by Kentucky-based companies or those willing to relocate operations to Kentucky, according to a press release from the governor's office.
Unemployment rates fell in 114 of Kentucky's 120 counties in January compared with January 2011, according to data released Thursday by the state's Office of Employment and Training. Woodford County had the lowest unemployment rate at 6.9 percent. It was followed by Webster, 7.2 percent; Fayette, 7.3 percent; Oldham, 7.5 percent; Boone, 7.7 percent; Union, 7.8 percent; Henderson, 7.9 percent; Madison and Shelby, 8 percent each; and Hopkins, 8.1 percent.
The executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park is anticipating one of the “best years ever” for the sprawling tourist attraction, despite significant financial hurdles. This week the park returned to its regular operating hours for the spring and summer. Ryan Yates and his family were visiting Friday from Collierville, Tennessee. “It’s neat to see the different breeds that we don’t typically see in our part of the country.”
Gov. Steve Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson Wednesday joined community leaders and officials from DHL Express to celebrate the groundbreaking for a new 193,000-square-foot sorting facility in Erlanger. The expansion brings 120 full-time jobs and an investment of $47 million. DHL officials anticipate the new facility will be operational by November. Upgrades are also planned for an existing 520,000-square-foot facility.
The Sweet Sixteen tournament comes to Rupp Arena today – bringing with it scores of high school basketball players, boosters, and a sizable economic impact for Lexington. City officials are eager to keep it that way.
This week, lawmakers should begin considering legislation from each other’s chambers. State Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, hopes that includes a series of business-friendly laws he has proposed. One of those is House Bill 277, which would standardize, as much as possible, tax reporting forms used by taxing jurisdictions and offer the forms through the Secretary of State’s One Stop Shop for Business.
Dan Bryan wanted to open a wine bar but the cost shocked him. Just to get a liquor license could cost more than $25,000. That’s why Bryan and local leaders support a bill introduced by State Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, that would create a separate liquor license to sell wine by the drink and by the package in wine bars. Winemakers hope this will lead to more bars devoted to wine, particularly Kentucky wine. The state’s wine industry has grown in the past 15 years from four wineries to 65 across the state.
Kentuckians are just beginning the gauge the economic cost of the weekend’s disaster. A more complete picture will become apparent once damage assessments are complete. However, there are economic trends that follow a tornado. For example, economist Kevin Simmons says full recovery is likely…in fact, Simmons says some communities re-invent themselves after devastating weather. The Austin College professor says disaster relief, from both government and private sources, can temporarily improve a local economy.
A group dedicated to smart growth in central Kentucky has more than doubled its size. President Rob Rumpke says Bluegrass Tomorrow now represents 18 counties. “When you talk about the projects and programs that `Bluegrass Tomorrow’ is all about, it has to include those counties. Whether you’re talking about the Consortium of Higher Education, which goes all the way over to Morehead, or you’re talking about greenways and connectivity of trails and protection of the horse industry and those kinds of things,” said Rumpke.
FRANKFORT – In its highest ranking ever, Kentucky has been rated eighth in the nation for new and expanded industry activity in 2011 by Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings. The Atlanta-based publication has rated the states annually since 1978. The ranking is based on a state’s total number of qualified projects as tracked by Conway Data Inc.’s New Plant database.
KD Analytical Consulting Inc., which provides support, service and training to the emergency first responder community, will expand its operation at Lexington’s Bluegrass Station by adding more than 7,000 square feet to its existing 1,850-square-foot facility. The growth means an investment of $897,800 and will include the hiring of 15 full-time employees.
A new study issued by the National Park Service shows Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace is not just a draw for tourists. It is also a source of local economic success. The study, “Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, 2010” found visitors to the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Hodgenville spent more than $6 million in local communities in 2010. The study estimates the spending generated roughly 97 jobs.
Eight postal service mail processing centers around Kentucky will be closed. In a press release Thursday, the postal service said processing centers in Somerset, Paducah, London, Hazard, Elizabethtown, Bowling Green, Campton and Lexington will close beginning in mid-May. Mail will now be processed at other facilities.
Kentucky’s Cabinet for Economic Development is now accepting applications from Kentucky small businesses for grant money made available through the State Trade and Export Promotion. The grant program is part of a three-year trade and export promotion pilot initiative authorized by the Small Business Administration Act of 2010, which aims to increase the number of small businesses that export, as well as to increase the value of exports for companies that are currently doing so.
The National Fastpitch Coaches Association will move into the former 5,000-square-foot Crescent Hill Woman's Club facility in Louisville, creating 12 jobs and making a $525,000 investment. “We’re thrilled to welcome the National Fastpitch Coaches Association to the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a statement issued by his office. “This is a national nonprofit organization that could have chosen any city in the country but chose Louisville.
Plaza Recovery, an accounts receivable management company, has acquired a firm in Covington and will expand the facility to add up to 250 jobs. The company plans to invest more than $2.5 million at its Northern Kentucky location, which will include the addition of 18,000 square feet to its existing 25,000-square-foot facility. “We welcome Plaza Recovery and the 250 new jobs coming to Northern Kentucky,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a statement released by his office.
After serving Franklin County’s special needs children for more than 30 years, PUSH Early Childhood Development Center announced Thursday it will be closing its doors next week. The Board of Directors passed a motion in its meeting Wednesday night to suspend the center’s operations starting Feb. 24, citing deficits and a decline in funding. Founded in 1979 by parents of children with special needs, PUSH is a learning center that specializes in working with economically, physically and socially disadvantaged children. There are currently 41 kids, ranging from infants to 5-year-olds, enrolled.
The Ark Encounter themed attraction planned for Grant County will be built in phases over several years rather than as a single project. Mark Looy, co-founder of Answers in Genesis, the biblical apologetics ministry that built the Creation Museum in Hebron, said the decision will reduce the initial construction period and funding requirements for the Noah’s Ark-themed park that was initially scheduled for completion in 2014. On Wednesday, the Ark Encounter group also announced the purchase of the final piece of land needed to develop the park.
Kentucky's telephone industry wants the option to end basic phone service in less profitable parts of their territories if other communications options, such as cell phones or the Internet, are available in the area. The industry hopes to build on its 2006 legislative success in deregulating basic land-line phone service, arguing that it needs to shift its resources to cell phone and broadband communications. But consumer advocates warn that rural communities, the poor and the elderly could be among those left behind if basic phone service disappears.