business

Commission Approves Agreements on Hancock County Smelter

Jan 31, 2014

The Kentucky Public Service Commission has approved agreements that Century Aluminum of Kentucky says are necessary to keep operating a western Kentucky smelter.  

The agreements allow the smelter to be supplied power purchased on the open market by Kenergy Corp. rather than power generated by Big Rivers Electric Corp.

The PSC said in its order Thursday that the agreements are substantially the same as those it approved in August for the Century smelter in Hawesville.

The Hawesville smelter has about 700 employees and the Sebree smelter about 500.

Big Rivers has a pending rate increase request to compensate for revenue it will lose when it is no longer producing power sold to the Sebree smelter. In October, Big Rivers was granted a rate adjustment to compensate for lost revenue from the Hawesville smelter.

A global auto manufacturer is building a facility in Elizabethtown and creating 75 new jobs.

Hendrickson USA LLC creates suspension systems and components for heavy-duty vehicles. The $20 million facility will be built at T.J. Patterson Industrial Park in Hardin County.

Construction on the 100,000-square-foot building is expected to be complete later this year.

An economic think-tank says a raise in the minimum wage would benefit reduce child poverty and help about a quarter of Kentucky workers.

The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy says a $10.10 an hour minimum wage would lead to a boost in consumer spending. That, they say, would spur job creation, and allow low-income families to make ends meet.

Opponents argue higher wages would force layoffs or cause businesses to raise prices. But center director Jason Bailey says it would actually keep employees in what are currently lower-paying jobs. That cuts the costs businesses pay to hire and train new workers.

“The lack of consumer spending is a big impediment to additional hiring; that additional money in people’s pockets, low-wage workers’ pockets at this time, money that they will then spend, could actually result in a small job gain," Bailey said.

Bailey supports a bill filed by House Speaker Greg Stumbo that would raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. A new Public Policy Polling survey shows that 57 percent of Kentuckians support the idea.

Stumbo’s measure would also require pay equity for women, who earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.

For decades, American companies have been sending their manufacturing work overseas. Extremely low wages in places like China, Vietnam and the Philippines reduced costs and translated into cheaper prices for consumers wanting flat-screen TVs, dishwashers and a range of gadgets.

But now a growing number of American companies are reversing that trend, bringing manufacturing back to the United States in a trend known as "reshoring."

Flickr/Creative Commons

In an effort to improve job growth for existing and new employers across the state, the state of Kentucky is making workforce services available in one centralized location.  

Governor Steve Beshear laid out the details of the ‘WorkSmart Kentucky’ initiative Monday. The program involves matching employers with available workforce resources.

“Qualifying companies within the Commonwealth will be eligible for recruitment and job screening services at no cost. In addition, flexible grant funding will be available to offset the cost of customized and in house training needs,” said Beshear.

WorkSmart Kentucky is a partnership of the state’s Economic Development, Workforce Development, and Labor Cabinets along with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. The governor says the new program fits in well with the state’s emphasis on health care and educational improvements.

Jim Beam distillery

A Japanese company has announced plans to acquire the producer of Jim Beam bourbon.

Suntory Holdings of Osaka, Japan, has agreed to purchase Beam Incorporated for $16 billion.

The Courier-Journal reports that under a deal approved by leadership at both companies, the current Beam management team would continue to lead the business from Beam headquarters outside Chicago, with Jim Beam maintaining its distillery in Clermont, Kentucky.

Beam Incorporated owns many of the most famous names in the world of bourbon, including Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, Basil Hayden, Bookers, and Old Grand-Dad.

The company’s portfolio also includes brands of vodka, rum, tequila, as well as Irish and Scotch whiskies.

The acquisition of Beam Incorporated by Suntory Holdings is expected to finalized in the second quarter of this year.

Lisa Autry

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear was in Bowling Green Monday to celebrate the opening of a manufacturing plant.

Austrian-based Alpla began operations in mid-August at its facility in the Kentucky Transpark.  The company invested $22.4 million in the plant and created 72 full-time jobs.

Governor Beshear helped cut the ribbon on the new factory which makes plastic packaging for beverages, cosmetics, and household items.

"Among their customers is Sun Products right here in Bowling Green," explained Beshear.  "You might not know the Aalpla name, but I guarantee you have held in your hand an Alpla-packaged product."

Alpla's Bowling Green plant brings the number of foreign-owned companies in Kentucky to 412.

Tax Foundation

Kentucky continues to rank in the middle-of-the-pack when it comes to having a business-friendly tax climate.  The 2014 study, released Wednesday by the non-partisan Tax Foundation in Washington takes into account the corporate tax rate, individual income tax, sales tax, unemployment insurance tax and property tax rate. 

Kentucky’s ranking dropped from 24th in the nation last year to 27th this year.  The study finds Kentucky’s tax code didn’t change that much, but the ranking reflects changes in states with similar numbers. 

Meantime, Indiana ranked 10th in the nation for best business tax climate – earning high marks for low property taxes.  Tennessee ranked 15th thanks in part of a low individual income tax.

Click here to read the full report.

Kevin Willis

A new hotel is being called a bridge that will bring WKU and downtown Bowling Green closer together.

City and university leaders Tuesday announced that a 108-room Hyatt Place hotel will be built adjacent to the WKU Augustein Alumni Center. Construction on the four-story building will start this fall, with a scheduled opening in fall of 2014.

WKU President Gary Ransdell described the effort as a "cornerstone" that will help unite the school's campus and the city's downtown.

"This is what begins to marry Western Kentucky University--our physical campus--with downtown Bowling Green. This project is going to be the bridge which begins to bring these two very important variables in our community together."

The hotel will be owned by Dellisart Wellspring, LLC, the same group behind the Staybridge Suites Hotel in Bowling Green at the intersection of Nashville Road and Campbell Lane.

A company that aims to manufacture steel tubes for the energy industry is expanding its operations and employment in Hopkinsville.

PTC Seemless Tube Corporation announced Thursday that it plans to create nearly 300 jobs and invest over $100 million  in a new manufacturing facility. It’s a return to the Hopkinsville area for the company, which previously closed its Christian County facility in order to move closer to its customer base.

PTC Seemless now says it wants to return to the region by retrofitting and expanding its former facility. The new manufacturing operation will involve 256,000 square feet of building area.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority has given preliminary approval for $12 million in tax incentives for the project.

Dr. Schneider Automotive Systems

A German-based auto parts manufacturer is investing $29 million dollars in Russell County – meaning more than 150 jobs are coming to the Russell Springs area. Representatives for  Dr. Schneider Automotive Systems took part in a special welcoming ceremony in Russell Springs. 

The event was attended by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear.

Russell County Judge-Executive Gary Robertson says the company will be moving into the Hitachi Cable plant that closed down in 2007.

“That plant is pretty much work-ready,” said Robertson.  They are having to do a few renovations to some flooring, but [the plant] was already available.”

Robertson says the new operation will provide jobs for those already in Russell County and bring in new residents.

Beshear Bashes Florida Governor's Recruitment Effort

Aug 21, 2013

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is ripping into Florida Gov. Rick Scott over what he calls a "crude" effort to lure businesses to the Sunshine State.
 
Beshear on Monday sent a letter to Scott criticizing the Republican governor's attempt to get companies to relocate. He called the effort in "poor taste" and also said some of the information Scott sent to Kentucky businesses was misleading and false.
 
Scott has sent letters to business leaders in several states contending that they should book a "one way" ticket to Florida. He has argued that companies should take advantage of the state's tax structure.

Beshear in his letter says "my advice to you, as a fellow governor, is to focus on your state and its people, and I'll focus on my mine."

Gov. Steve Beshear will lead an international business trade mission to Canada this summer. The trip will be the first-ever trade mission of the Kentucky Export Initiative, and will be aimed at boosting commerce between the Bluegrass State and America’s northern neighbor.

Canada already serves as Kentucky’s number one export destination, with the commonwealth exporting $7.3 billion in products and services there in 2012. That’s more than four times the total goods and services exported to Kentucky’s number two trading partner, Mexico.

The Kentucky trade mission will take place June 4-7 in Toronto.

U.S. Bank plans to expand its mortgage operations in Owensboro, adding a new facility and 332 jobs to its operations in Daviess County.

The bank’s investment, announced Friday afternoon, comes at a time of increased demand for mortgage services in the area, and represents a $15.2 million commitment. U.S. Bank is the fifth-largest bank in the country, and currently has 1,900 employees in Owensboro.

As part of the expansion, U.S. Bank has been given preliminary approval for $2.8 million dollars in tax incentives through the Kentucky Business Investment program.

visitowensboro.org

Sports tourism is expected to have a $20 million impact on the Owensboro community this year.

Jared Bratcher is sports marketing director for the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

He told the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer there will be more than 50 tournaments, including figure skating, hockey, baseball, running, soccer, softball, basketball, tennis, volleyball, fishing and football.

There's some type of tournament in town every month and they will fill every hotel room in the city on 10 weekends this year.

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