business

The next President and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce won’t have to go far to begin her new job.

The chamber announced Thursday that Candance Brake will lead the organization beginning March 16.

Brake was most recently Executive Director of the Green River Area Community Foundation in Owensboro, which shares a building with the Chamber of Commerce.  She served as an Owensboro City Commissioner from 2004 until 2010, and was previously an executive vice-president of the chamber.

Brake earned her bachelor’s degree from Brescia University in Owensboro, and has a Masters of Public Administration from WKU.

A Japanese corporation is planning a $15 million expansion at its manufacturing site in Bowling Green.

NHK of America Suspension Components Incorporated (NASCO) is adding a new building next to its existing facility in Warren County. The new location will manufacture automotive suspension coil springs, and is expected to be completed within two years.

NASCO employs 280 people, and its  Japanese parent company owns another operation in Warren County (Topura America Fastener), Franklin (New Mather Materials), and Louisville (NHK Spring Precision of America). In all, NHK International Corporation employs about 1,000 Kentucky workers.

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (Flickr Creative Commons)

A new partnership between WKU and EKU will make it easier for workers in the Bowling Green and Owensboro areas to receive OSHA certification.

EKU houses the only OSHA Training Institute Education Center in Kentucky. But under an agreement between the two schools, EKU personnel will lead OSHA training courses at the Knicely Conference Center in Bowling Green, and at the WKU-Owensboro campus.

Dr. Sue Parrigin, with WKU’s Career and Workforce Development office, says the idea is to expand the number of individuals in the region who can lead OSHA training classes.

“OSHA has what’s called a 10-hour and a 30-hour card, and these trainers will be prepared to go into business and industry and train employees in order to receive their 10 and 30-hour certification with OSHA.”

During 2013-14, EKU’s OSHA Training Center enrolled more than 1,800 students in classes taught in Richmond and Louisville. EKU authorized outreach trainers led 820 classes for more than 9,000 10 and 30-hour OSHA certification.

Flickr/Creative Commons

The Bluegrass State has seen another record-setting year for exports.

Kentucky shipped $27.5 billion worth of goods to other countries in 2014, the fourth straight year the state broke its previous mark.

Joe Hall, with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, says many people would be surprised to know that the state’s leading export category isn’t auto parts or bourbon, but aerospace products.

“Our aerospace products are really diverse,” he said. “We have companies that are making parts for jet engines. We have companies that are making small satellites that are orbiting earth as we speak.”

Kentucky exported nearly $8 billion worth of aerospace parts and products last year—a 38 percent increase over 2013.

The commonwealth’s number one export destination remains Canada, followed by Mexico and the United Kingdom. Kentucky exports to France jumped by 93 percent last year.

Kentucky’s Top Five Export Markets in 2014:

A Bowling Green manufacturer is expanding, adding 30 new jobs.

KapStone Containter Corporation is investing $4.5 million in the project, which will modernize the facility and upgrade equipment. KapStone manufactures paper packaging containers, and employs 112 full-time workers at its Bowling Green facility.

Governor Steve Beshear announced the expansion plans Thursday in Warren County.

Beshear Thursday also announced a $400,000 expansion at a metal stamping manufacturer in Stanford. The Lincoln Manufacturing plant is adding 20 jobs and adding a third shift to its operations in Lincoln County.

Flickr/Creative Commons

A program designed to benefit Kentucky's manufacturing sector is expanding statewide.  Governor Beshear made the announcement Wednesday at the Georgetown Toyota plant, where the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education initiative is already underway. 

Kentucky Community and Technical College System President Jay Box says under the program, sponsoring manufacturers pay for two years of student instruction. "It requires a dedicated student because they are very structured in their education and in their work during this program," said Box. "But, it also gets them through in two years and that's quite an advantage."      

Program participants attend classes two days a week at area community and technical colleges, and work 24 hours per week for supporting employers.  Upon completion of the program, students receive an associate degree in applied sciences and, in many cases, stay on to work full-time.       

Greg Higdon with the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers says expanding the initiative may result in more firms locating in the Commonwealth.

Comer Takes Aim at Economic Development Efforts

Dec 5, 2014

Republican James Comer says he wants to eliminate state economic development incentives for companies that fail to pay livable wages.

The GOP candidate for governor said Thursday that Kentucky's Economic Development Cabinet has made "questionable deals" that included awarding tax incentives. Comer didn't define a livable wage but said it's higher than the minimum wage.

He said the Economic Development Cabinet would draw close scrutiny if he becomes governor.

Comer, the state agriculture commissioner, made the remarks to reporters after speaking to the Kentucky Farm Bureau's annual meeting.

Comer said he plans to talk about ways to reduce poverty in Kentucky. He said he wants to attract investment into areas in dire need of more jobs. He said one way to do that is to make Kentucky a right-to-work state.

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.

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