Lexmark International’s decision earlier this year to shutter its inkjet printer operations and lay off 550 Lexington workers might have surprised some, but it was mounting evidence of a business in transition. For the past several years, the Lexington-based printer maker has been in the midst of changing strategies and made five key acquisitions since 2010 designed to take the company further from its roots only in printers and more into computer software and services.
During December, Kentucky and its business climate will be featured in a 32-page supplement featured in American Airlines' onboard magazine for passengers. American estimates there's the potential for more than 12 million passengers to see the piece in Hemispheres during the month, according to a news release from Gov. Steve Beshear's office.
Now that Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky has celebrated more than 25 years of operation in Georgetown, more than 20 percent of its workforce is nearing retirement. In hopes of managing the large number of retirements, the company announced an incentive program for eligible workers if they agree to retire in intervals determined by Toyota.
Reducing homelessness in Lexington will in large part depend on the availability of affordable housing. That’s one direction a special government commission seems to be taking. The Mayor’s Commission on Homelessness has produced a draft report. Co-Chair Steve Kay says affordable housing will be key component of the final report. “If we can do a better job of providing adequate housing for those people, we can significantly reduce the numbers of people who are homeless and the number of people who are going to find themselves in a homeless situation. Housing is one of the key parts of what we will be addressing,” said Kay.
A large number of Kentucky arts and crafts people hope consumers do more than just shop in the Commonwealth. They are banking those holiday shoppers will also buy Kentucky-made products. Victoria Faoro (FAIR-oh) directs Berea’s Kentucky Artisan Center. “You know our hope is that people, new people will become aware of the wonderful products that are being made in the state and will think first about buying something Kentucky, whether it’s a Kentucky crafted quilt or mug or piece of jewelry or Kentucky Proud foods,” said Faoro.
First there was “Black Friday,” and then “Cyber Monday.” Now, consumers are urged to shop local on Saturday. Holiday sales are also important to small retailers. Lexington’s Bella Rose, which is a clothing boutique near the University of Kentucky, has displayed dresses in its window for more than 30 years. Store founder Betty Spain says the staff specializes in customer service…finding the ‘right dress’ for the ‘right woman’.
Gov. Steve Beshear on Tuesday joined company and local officials to welcome Davert USA to Bowling Green, according to a news release from the governor's office. The Canadian-based company chose Bowling Green as its first U.S. location and plans to create 20 new, full-time jobs and invest more than $2.3 million in the project.
A Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing a Kentuckian’s right to hunt and fish is on tomorrow’s ballot. It has not gotten much attention this election season. Pike County Representative Leslie Combs says the amendment is intended to preserve hunting and fishing rights, while also protecting the state’s wildlife populations. Combs, along with House Speaker Greg Stumbo, is a key sponsor of the legislation
Kentucky’s manufacturers are making gains. The manufacturing sector comprises about 16 percent of the state’s overall economy. State economist Manoj Shanker says factory activity is on the uptick. “Manufacturing has grown by about three percent for the first nine months of this year versus the first nine months of last year, which is good, compared to say, total employment which has grown by just two percent,” said Shanker.
There are no easy answers for ongoing farm labor shortages.
Increasingly, Kentucky’s farmers can’t find the help they need. Agriculture experts blame the slow economy and a nationwide crackdown on undocumented workers. However, the debate over illegal immigration has not been a campaign issue in the Commonwealth.
Kentucky’s Public Service Commission projects natural gas prices this winter will be the lowest in a decade. On average, customers can expect to pay about 12-percent less this November, as compared to a year ago. Over the last four years, commission spokesman Andrew Melnykovych says natural gas prices have dropped 43 percent. Melnykovych says the devastating storm in New England will not likely impact natural gas rates.
Kentucky’s agriculture industry is faring better than early predictions. The agriculture industry, which includes crops, cattle, and horses, last year earned over five billion dollars. That figure is beyond Kentucky’s reach this year, but, University of Kentucky Agriculture Economist Will Snell says many farmers should still do okay.
Tax revenues coming into Lexington city hall seem to indicate the local economy is ‘relatively stable.’ The local unemployment rate in the six percent range, is about one percent lower than a year ago. City Revenue Director Bill Omara says a number of taxing categories are down slightly, but service-related fees are up. “Services category was over budget. That’s a large category that takes into detention fees, e-m-s fees, parks fees. Those types of fees that are general fund related,” said Omara.
Creating art and selling it are two very different things. In marketing their creations, the executive director of the Kentucky Arts Council, Lori Meadows says many artists struggle with setting a fair, but competitive price. “Really looking at pricing, what kind of marketing that you can do as an artist that will promote the image that you want to put forward,” said Meadows. To further their businesses, Meadows says artists must work well with buyers and galleries.
Hoping to make the Kentucky Horse Park into a major convention center, officials are asking Lexington city leaders for help. Two years ago this week, Lexington was playing host to the World Equestrian Games. Horse Park Director John Nicholson says the international event pumped more than 200 million dollars into the region’s economy. The longtime director says high gasoline prices, 85-million dollars in improvements and the state’s fiscal crisis then put a financial strain on the horse park. Now, Nicholson says state officials want the park to become self sufficient. Still, he told council members he’s not looking for a handout.
FRANKFORT Ky. (Sept. 25, 2012) – Thunder Tool & Manufacturing Ltd. has purchased a 30,000-square-foot facility in Richmond. The company plans to create 45 new, full-time jobs and invest $2.2 million in the project. “Thunder Tool is a tremendous success story out of Canada, and we’re thrilled it chose Kentucky as the place to begin its growth in the United States,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a statement.
Gross receipts for Keeneland’s eleven day yearling sales were down slightly from a year ago. But, the average price and median figure were up. Just over 25 hundred horses were auctioned off during the eleven day sale, A little more than 29 hundred horses were sold last year. The cumulative average price this year increased 14 percent while the median jumped up 50 percent.
An international law firm is expected to bring more than 200 jobs to the Lexington community. Bingham McCutchen announced Wednesday plans to open a shared services center next spring. Company officials say the center will eventually house about 250 employees, who will be relocating from Bingham offices or hired from the Lexington area. The move is tied to pending state and local economic development incentives.
Governor Beshear is in India for a seven day economic development visit. This is the governor’s third trip to India. Last year, he announced 250 new jobs in Elizabethtown for the India based packaging company, Flex Films. The firm is investing 180 million dollars in the Commonwealth. Almost 30 percent of all capital investment and more than 22 percent of all jobs announced in 2011 were the result of foreign owned enterprises.
FRANKFORT – Ford Motor Co. Monday announced that the company, its employees and dealers are donating more than $1.2 million to nonprofits in the Louisville and Lexington areas this year. As part of its new Operation Goodwill partnership with area Ford and Lincoln dealers as well as employees at its Kentucky Truck and Louisville Assembly plants, Ford is focusing its philanthropic efforts on areas of greatest concern to Louisville and Lexington area residents.
Another opportunity to gauge the strength of Kentucky’s Equine industry takes place over the next two weeks at Keeneland. The Keeneland Yearling Sale is regarded by many leaders in the thoroughbred industry as a ‘barometer’ on their business Keeneland spokeswoman Julie Balog says one year olds from Kentucky, Indiana, New York, and Pennyslvania are auctioned off this week and next