business

Seventy-eight Tennessee municipalities have passed a referendum for wine to be sold in supermarkets.

They collected enough signatures to place the referendum on the Tennessee ballot Tuesday. Final voting results show all the communities passed the measure.

Currently, wine can be sold only in liquor stores. Because of a state law passed earlier this year, wine can be sold by grocery and convenience stores starting in July 2016 in the communities where citizens vote for the change.

Supermarkets and convenience stores can sell beer containing up to 6.5 percent alcohol by volume. Anything stronger can be sold only in package stores, which, as of July 1, are able to sell items other than booze, such as beer, mixers, glasses, corkscrews, food and cigarettes.

Abbey Oldham

With Kentucky’s bourbon industry continuing to expand, the head of a distiller’s association says the state could soon become “the next Napa Valley.” He also believes bourbon-related tourism could someday help economically-challenged counties in eastern Kentucky.

Every two years the University of Louisville produces an economic impact study focusing on the bourbon industry. The last study, in 2012, showed the industry was responsible for over 9,000 jobs in Kentucky, with over $125 million dollars in taxes going to state and local governments.

Speaking to CN-2 Pure Politics, Kentucky Distillery Association President Eric Gregory said the preliminary numbers he saw from the latest report were so incredible that he asked researchers to double-check their findings. Then he asked them to triple-check the numbers.

Gregory says the report will be made public soon.

He adds that he hopes someday bourbon-related tourism will stretch into Appalachia, with distilleries someday opening in the region. But first, Gregory said, counties wanting to be home to a distillery will have to vote to become “wet”, meaning that alcohol can be legally sold there.

Aleris

An aluminum manufacturer says it will invest $350 million to expand its facilities in Hancock County.

According to the Governor’s Office, the announcement Wednesday by Aleris Corporation is the largestsingle project investment in Kentucky in over a year. The expansion in Lewisport will include the additionof new technology that will help create parts for the automotive industry as it shifts to broader aluminum use to make lighter vehicles.

The 1.6 million-square-foot facility in Hancock County employs approximately 800 people.

Construction is set to begin this fall, and Aleris hopes to begin shipping automotive body sheet to customers by early 2017.

An automotive parts manufacturer is expanding its operations in Henderson County.

Budge Industries creates protective covers for vehicles, and announced Friday that it will expand its 75,000 square-foot facilities and create up to 37 new jobs. The $650,000 investment by the company will allow it to add new production lines at its Henderson County operation, as well as new ultrasonic welding equipment.

The expansion was approved for $200,000 worth of tax incentives through the Kentucky Business Investment program.

Angel's Envy, Michter's, and Evan Williams are just a few of the names highlighting Louisville's growing trade in bourbon.

After years of complaints about high gas prices in Somerset, Ky., the city council and mayor did something about it. Last month, Somerset began selling gasoline to the public.

"It should have been this way years ago — fair," says Bob Thomas as he fills up his green pickup truck at the municipal Somerset Fuel Center.

The price is $3.36 a gallon, lower than the statewide average.

Flickr/Creative Commons

A newly formed automotive organization in Kentucky wants to help the industry speak with a unified voice.

Dave Tatman is now head of the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association, following 34 years with General Motors. The former plant manager of the Bowling Green G.M. plant believes too many people are unaware of the importance the industry has on the state’s economy.

"So we've got to create that kind of brand identity for Kentucky as the place to do business for automotive businesses, not only for the ones that are here, but the ones that are considering coming here,” Tatman said. “I think North America is searching for the next automotive cluster outside of Detroit and I think we could be that."

Given the already sizeable presence in the state held by G.M., Ford, and Toyota, Tatman doubts the commonwealth will land another major automaker.

"But, I think our best opportunities exist in really, two fold, in growth of existing businesses because the automotive market continues to expand and do well throughout the globe, so growth of our existing businesses and then attracting new supplier businesses to the Commonwealth."

Kentucky ranks third nationally in light vehicle production, with the state’s automotive exports reaching a record $5.5 billion last year.

A Hart County manufacturer is announcing plans to expand its facility and add jobs. Dart Container announced today that it will invest $23 dollars to build a new 650,000 square foot warehouse in Horse Cave.

Up to 30 new jobs are expected to be created through the expansion.

Dart Container currently employs approximately 1,400 people at its Hart County operation, where it manufactures cups, bowls, plates, and other food and beverage supplies.

The Michigan-based Dart Container Corporation has been preliminarily approved for $900,000 in state tax incentives and benefits in connection with the project.

A new $150 million aluminum production facility in Bowling Green will create 80 new jobs.

Governor Beshear was on hand Wednesday morning at the Kentucky Transpark as ground was broken on the Japanese-European partnership. The joint venture between Contellium N.V. and UACJ Corporation will create finished aluminum body sheets for cars and trucks.

Construction on the 225,000-square-foot facility will begin this summer.

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Kentucky’s bourbon capital is set to grow even stronger.

The Bardstown Bourbon Company announced Thursday plans to build a new distillery in the Nelson County town that will create 35 jobs and represent an investment of $25 million. The company says it will also build a visitor’s center and warehouses, in addition to the 45,000-square-foot distillery.

The company will produce bourbon as well as other spirits using local ingredients. Construction on the project is expected to begin this summer, with the facility opening in 2016.

It would mark the fifth distillery in Bardstown, joining Barton 1792, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, and Willett. Maker's Mark is also close by, in the town of Loretto.

The Bardstown Bourbon Company has hired Steve Nally to serve as its first master distiller. He has over 40 years of experience in the industry and is a member of the Bourbon Hall of Fame.

Skip Stiles stands on the edge of a small inlet known as the Hague, near downtown Norfolk, Va. The Chrysler Museum of Art is nearby, as are dozens of stately homes, all threatened by the water.

Governor Beshear is leading a Kentucky trade mission to the United Kingdom this Sunday.

The Kentucky Export Initiative trade mission will make stops in London and Manchester. Bilateral trade between the Bluegrass State and the U.K. was near $3 billion dollars in 2013, and the U.K. is the commonwealth’s third-largest trade destination, behind only Canada and Mexico.

Kentucky exports more horses to the U.K. than any other state, and ranks in the top five in exporting aerospace products, distilled spirts, printed materials, and charcoal to the country.

During the five day trip, Governor Beshear will be joined by representatives from 11 Kentucky companies, including Bluegrass Dairy of Glasgow; Oscarware Incorporated of Bonnieville; and Whitaker Tools of Campbellsville.

Kentucky exporters have been on a roll lately. Last year the commonwealth exported $25.3 billion in products, the third straight record year for exports.

Constellium N.V., a European aluminum company, and Japanese aluminum company UACJ Corporation say they'll establish an aluminum production facility at the Bowling Green Transpark. A $150 million capital investment is expected and 80 new jobs. It's the largest capital investment for the South Central Kentucky region in more than a decade.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear said the investment further solidifies the state as a key player in the auto industry. The two companies will supply aluminum "Body-in-White" sheet to the North American auto industry. The Joint Venture will have an initial target capacity of 100,000 metric tons, about 220 million pounds, supplied by cold rolled coils supplied by both partners' rolling mills.

Construction of the plant is expected to begin this summer.

There have been ten economic development announcements in the past 18 months in Bowling Green, totaling more than $285 million in capital investment and over 450 new jobs. This is the largest total capital investment in the state of Kentucky so far this year.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Now that Lake Cumberland’s water level is back to its full summer point for the first time in eight years, the head of the state dock there says the region is in for a great tourist season.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced this week that the recent rain in southern Kentucky has pushed Lake Cumberland’s water level to 723 feet above sea level. The water level at the lake was dropped in 2007 while repair work was done on Wolf Creek Dam.

Lake Cumberland State Dock president Bill Jasper told WKU Public Radio it’s been a challenge fighting off negative public perceptions about the lake over the past eight years. He says this week’s news helps erase those problems.

“We’ve still got one of the biggest waterways east of the Mississippi in terms of volume of water, and people thought we were dry. So, we still get that question at boat shows. So this takes away all that uncertainty.”

A Tennessee company is expanding its operations in Taylor County, adding 70 new full-time jobs. Frost- Arnett is an accounts receivable management company based in Nashville that announced Tuesday it is investing $620,000 to expand its call center in Campbellsville.

Company leaders say the expansion and new hiring comes as a result of Frost-Arnett’s increased business dealings with the health care industry.

Hiring for the new 70 full-time positions is underway. Frost-Arnett is also holding a job fair at the Kentucky Career Center in Campbellsville April 26-28.

Pages