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Ohio County Economic Development Alliance

Ohio County is boosting its economic development, but not with a big manufacturing plant or a major expansion of an existing business. The county is launching a coworking space for entrepreneurs called The Hub on July 24.

The new business incubator called The Hub is in a renovated house on Peach Alley in the town of Hartford. It offers a workspace nestled in the rural environment of Ohio County, while connected to national or global businesses with fiber broadband.

A local entrepreneur, or one who wants to leave an urban environment, can work remotely from Ohio County and hold meetings through audio or video conferencing.

Alcoa Public Relations

Alcoa Corp. plans to partially reopen its aluminum smelting operations in southwestern Indiana, restoring nearly half of the 600 jobs lost when it shut down the facility along the Ohio River last year.

Alcoa says it will spend about $30 million to restart three of five smelter lines at its Warrick Operations near Evansville, where its rolling mill makes aluminum for food and beverage packaging.

The Pittsburgh-based company closed the smelter in March of 2016, but now expects production to resume during spring of 2018.

We'll give it to you straight: If President Trump slaps a tariff on steel, the U.S. bourbon industry might be left reeling.

Trump has long vowed to impose tariffs on some imports, and his administration has recently focused on the steel industry. A blanket tariff on steel wouldn't just hurt China, the frequent target of Trump's trademark trade tirades. It would also deal a blow to allies such as Germany.

Somerset Community College

Somerset Community College is offering regional businesses a chance to use 3D printing at no cost. The college has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture intended to spur economic development in rural areas.

Eric Wooldridge is a Somerset Community College professor of ‘additive manufacturing,’ often called 3D printing. He said the process uses a variety of materials including ABS, a type of plastic.

Owensboro Community and Technical College

An Owensboro area initiative helping to place high school students from refugee families into summer jobs is proving to be more successful than just temporary work. Many of the young people in the program  who have already graduated from high school have found permanent employment.

In this first year of the summer refugee youth program, sponsored by Owensboro Community and Technical College, 15 teenagers have found jobs. The 16-to-18-year-old students from Daviess County and Owensboro public schools are mainly from families who came to Kentucky from Myanmar, also known as Burma, and Somalia.

U.S. Army, Sgt. Neysa Canfield

The Army’s Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky is playing a major role in meeting ambitious  enlistment targets in the coming months. The Army is offering cash and other incentives to meet its national goals.

The Army aims to add 28,000 soldiers by the end of September. That will bring the total personnel to just over one million, the number approved under the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017. 

“In essence, the Army is hiring again," said Bill Costello, a spokesman for the Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox. "Where we had been in a position to minimize or reduce the size of the force under the previous administration, the current administration has authorized us to increase our force structure and right now we’re taking some concrete steps to get that done.”

Erica Peterson

After being name-checked in two of President Donald Trump’s recent speeches, a new coal mine opened in Pennsylvania last week.

“Next week we’re opening a big coal mine,” Trump told supporters in Cincinnati. “You know about that. One in Pennsylvania. It’s actually a new mine. That hadn’t happen in a long time, folks. But we’re putting the people and we’re putting the miners back to work.”

The mine in Somerset County, Pennsylvania is expected to employ about 70 coal miners. But while it may be cause for local celebration and useful for political rhetoric, it isn’t a harbinger of what’s to come in Kentucky.

Rhonda J Miller

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the number of farms in Kentucky has decreased by 16,000 over the past 20 years.

That means many people who once worked on those farms have to find other ways to make a living.

That’s the mission of the Kentucky Farmworker Programs - to help seasonal and migrant farmworkers find retraining and jobs.

At the Metalsa plant in Hopkinsville, Victor Radford is eager to get started on his day’s work helping to make frames for pickup trucks.

“I’m on the repair station today, weld repair station. So as the frames comes down the line, if there’s any weld gaps or porosity I’ll fix it for ‘em and keep on sending it.” “Weld gaps or what?”  “Gaps or porosity, like little bubbles in the weld from the robots, I repair it and keep it going.”

Flickr/Creative Commons/Chris Hunkeler

Many companies in Kentucky say the jobs are out there, but the workers are not. 

The state Society for Human Resource Management released a survey this week of 1,084 companies.

Eighty-four percent of the companies surveyed said they’re having trouble filling jobs.  The survey found the biggest shortages are in healthcare, engineering, and skilled trades.  Most of the businesses are expecting growth in the next few years, increasing the need for qualified employees. 

Secretary Hal Heiner in the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet says a high school diploma is no longer enough.

"Many of the experts are predicting that in about eight years, 2025, 80 percent of all jobs in the U.S. will require a credential or some education past high school," Heiner told WKU Public Radio.

Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation

A California-based customer service company locating an office in Owensboro has already hired nearly one-quarter of the 840 employees it plans to have in Daviess County.

Alorica is in the process of renovating the BB&T building in downtown Owensboro and will occupy four floors of the five-story building, with a restaurant and other commercial space planned for the sidewalk level.

While construction is in progress, Brescia University is partnering with Alorica to train some of the 200 employees who have already been hired.

Ken Muché is a spokesman for Alorica and says the collaboration with Brescia is an outstanding partnership.

Ashton Marra, WVPB

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is scheduled to be released from an Arizona halfway house on Wednesday after serving a year in federal prison.

Blankenship was found guilty of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards in December, 2015, after a federal investigation of the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in West Virginia. An explosion at the mine in April, 2010, killed 29 men.

The U.S. Attorney argued that the explosion was the result of a conspiracy under Blankenship’s leadership to shirk safety laws in order to increase production and profits.

Erica Peterson

After years of coal industry decline, Kentucky has fallen from the nation’s third largest coal producer to the fifth. Federal data released last month shows the 42 million tons of coal the commonwealth produced in 2016 was eclipsed by Pennsylvania and Illinois. Wyoming and West Virginia have long been above Kentucky in coal production.

But despite Kentucky coal’s dismal 2016, the state’s latest quarterly report is giving the industry hope that things may have steadied somewhat.

During the first three months of this year, Kentucky coal production had a barely perceptible increase — 0.56 percent.

Kentucky Coal Association president Tyler White said the fact that there wasn’t another drop in production is a good sign.

Western Kentucky Botanical Garden

Forty young refugees in Owensboro will get jobs this summer thanks to a workforce training grant. The $45,000 grant is from the group Catholic Charities and is being administered through its Kentucky Office of Refugees.  

Karri Calhoun at Owensboro Community and Technical College is coordinator of the ‘Summer Refugee Youth Program.’ She says the project will begin with a newly-developed course called ‘The American Workplace.’            

“At the beginning of the summer, May 30 through June 2, we’re going to offer a course where we’re talking about employability skills, such as attitude, attendance, even small things such as clocking in and out, how to use public transportation and interviews.”

Creative Commons

An aluminum company says it will build a $1.3 billion facility near the border of Kentucky and West Virginia, pledging to hire 550 employees earning average salaries of $70,000 in an area devastated by the loss of coal and manufacturing jobs.

Braidy Industries Inc. says the 2.5 million-square-foot facility in Greenup County, Kentucky, will produce 370,000 tons of aluminum for the automotive and aerospace industries, two of Kentucky's largest manufacturing sectors. The company says it expects 1,000 workers will be needed to build the plant next year, with construction to be completed in 2020.

"Braidy Industries' decision to locate in Eastern Kentucky has the potential to be as significant as any economic deal ever made in the history of Kentucky," Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said in a news release.

Toyota

Toyota said Monday it is investing $1.3 billion to retool its sprawling factory in Georgetown, Kentucky, where the company's flagship Camry sedans are built.

No new factory jobs are being added, but Toyota says the upgrades amount to the biggest single investment ever at one of its existing plants in the United States. The retooling also will sustain the existing 8,200 jobs at Toyota's largest plant, where nearly one-fourth of all Toyota vehicles produced in North America are made, the automaker said.

"This major overhaul will enable the plant to stay flexible and competitive, further cementing our presence in Kentucky," said Wil James, president of the plant, which also assembles the Avalon and the Lexus ES 350.

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