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Business news

Lisa Autry

Some Kentucky businesses are placing their names on a growing national list of sanctuary restaurants. 

At least ten businesses in the commonwealth have declared themselves sanctuary restaurants, meaning they have zero tolerance racism, sexism, and xenophobia.  The designation also bans harassment against anyone based on their immigrant or refugee status. 

Home Café in Bowling Green has joined the movement.  Owner Josh Poling says restaurants can’t survive without immigrants, documented or undocumented.

Stephen George

Health insurance companies Aetna and Humana have called off their planned merger, citing a federal court ruling last month that blocked the deal.

"While we continue to believe that a combined company would create greater value for health care consumers through improved affordability and quality, the current environment makes it too challenging to continue pursuing the transaction," Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said in a statement.

Aetna announced it would pay Humana a $1 billion fee for backing out of the agreement. Humana announced about $370 million of that would be paid as taxes.

In January, a federal judge ruled against Aetna's proposed acquisition of Humana in a victory for former President Obama's Justice Department, which sued Aetna last year.

Abbey Oldham, WKU Public Radio

The economic potency of bourbon is getting stronger with age, increasing its impact on Kentucky by $1 billion in the past two years as demand for American whiskeys continues to grow.

The Distilled Spirits Council said Tuesday in New York that combined U.S. revenues for bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey shot up 7.7 percent to $3.1 billion in 2016.

It says export volumes rose 10 percent, but revenues fell short of $1 billion for the first time in recent years as the strong dollar led more consumers to choose less expensive whiskeys.

A new study shows Kentucky's distilling sector now contributes $8.5 billion annually to the state's economy, up $3 billion since 2008 and a $1 billion increase in the past two years.

The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated its accomplishments of 2016 at its annual dinner Monday night.  President and CEO Ron Bunch said the Chamber brought in a half billion dollars in capital investment and more than 700 new jobs.

There were 15 different expansions or new businesses in Warren County last year including the announcement of a huge expansion at the Corvette assembly plant. That was named the number one business project in the state.

In June, General Motors announced a $270-million investment in the plant to upgrade technology and improve the plant’s manufacturing processes. The expansion will create up to 270 new jobs.

Ken Shmidheiser

Construction of a new $70 million manufacturing plant in Somerset could begin in the next few months. A tentative deal is in place to lease 23 acres of land.

The preliminary agreement with a group of Houston investors is for land near the Somerset Rail Park.

Local rail transportation and the new state-of-the-art Somerset Energy Center have been major factors in attracting the project.

Martin Shearer is Executive Director of the Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation. He says the energy center allows control of natural gas, a key part of the project.

city-data.com

There’s been another big step in the plan to bring a huge natural gas manufacturing plant to Somerset.

The Commonwealth Journal reports preliminary documents have been signed to provide natural gas to the proposed $70 million facility and to build the plant on 23 acres near the former Crane Company building.

The proposed project would convert natural gas into other products.

GM

The Bowling Green General Motors plant is temporarily shutting down later this year to make changes to its vehicle production process.

The facility will temporarily lay off employees while the changes are being made.

A spokeswoman for the plant said a decision on the exact dates and length of the shutdown hasn’t been made, but that it would likely cover parts of the summer and fall.

The plant employees about 840 hourly workers, along with 165 salaried individuals. The spokeswoman said some employees will be asked to work through the temporary shutdown, with the plant making those decisions based on the facility’s needs.

Bardstown Bourbon Co. Partners With Bowling Green Firm

Jan 30, 2017
Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Bardstown Bourbon Co. has announced the first partnership in its collaborative distilling program.

The company says Western Spirits Beverage Co. will work with its team to produce whiskey for Western Spirits' brand portfolio at the Bardstown distillery. Bowling Green-based Western Spirits produces Bird Dog Whiskey, Lexington Bourbon and Calumet Farm Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey.

Bardstown Bourbon recently broke ground on a distillery expansion to double its capacity to 3 million proof gallons.

Kentucky Bourbon Tourism Hits New Milestone

Jan 25, 2017
Abbey Oldham, WKU Public Radio

Kentucky's whiskey makers are toasting a new milestone in bourbon tourism.

The Kentucky Distillers' Association says more than one million guests visited distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour in 2016.

KDA says the tourism attractions had double-digit attendance growth compared to 2015. Attendance has shot up 300 percent in the past decade.

It says the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour, showcasing nine distilleries, had a record 888,733 visits in 2016. Those distilleries produce bourbon's biggest brands, including Jim Beam, Evan Williams, Wild Turkey, Maker's Mark, Four Roses and Woodford Reserve.

City of Bowling Green

A Bowling Green program that launched this week gives property owners a reimbursement of up to $5,000 for exterior improvements.

The city of Bowling Green has $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to reimburse property owners for upgrades like new doors and windows or repainting.

The property must be in the designated area that runs roughly from Fairview Avenue to 14th Avenue and the U.S. 31-W Bypass to Chestnut Street.

Alcohol Sales Measures Go 2-for-3 in Kentucky Communities

Jan 18, 2017
Creative Commons

Two western Kentucky communities have voted in favor of allowing alcohol sales, while residents in an eastern Kentucky county struck down a similar measure.

The Daily News of Bowling Green says Auburn residents voted 108-34 on Tuesday in favor of allowing alcoholic beverage sales. Adairville voters also favored allowing sales by a 168-83 margin.

The vote was closer and had a different outcome in Knott County, where WYMT-TV reports that residents voted 1,981 to 1,589 to stay dry. The county also voted to stay dry in 2012.

Kevin Willis

A sixth-generation distiller has passed away after five decades with one of the most famous bourbon producers.

Parker Beam served as Master Distiller Emeritus for Heaven Hill distilleries, and was with the company for more than 50 years.

Heaven Hill announced Monday that Beam died following a years-long battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

GM

General Motors will temporarily close the Bowling Green assembly plant next month as the automaker tries to reduce a growing inventory of cars on dealer lots.

The Corvette plant will be idled for one week. GM will also halt production at four other plants ranging from one to three weeks.

Hart County Could Soon Pass Local 'Right-to-Work' Law

Dec 9, 2016

Hart County could soon join several other Kentucky counties in passing a local law banning mandatory union membership. The Bowling Green Daily News reports Magistrate Gary Gardner says the court unanimously approved the first reading of the so-called "right-to-work" ordinance Dec. 1. The fiscal court will vote on a second reading Dec. 15.

Fruit of the Loom

Fruit of the Loom has named a senior vice president at its global headquarters in Bowling Green as the company’s new chairman and CEO. Melissa Burgess-Taylor will lead the company following the unexpected death of former CEO Rick Medlin last month.

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