business

The Obama administration's push to put income inequality atop the domestic political agenda has another battlefront.

According to The New York Times, the president "this week will seek to force American businesses to pay more overtime to millions of workers, the latest move by his administration to confront corporations that have had soaring profits even as wages have stagnated."

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is continuing his push for the local option sales tax, which would let communities vote on temporary sales tax increases to fund projects.

The Democratic mayor is facing opposition to the plan, but not from where you might expect. Much of the criticism of the effort comes from the political left.

In a 15-minute pitch in Frankfort, Fischer extolled the civic virtues of a sales tax that he says would be used to fund local projects chosen by committee and placed on a ballot before voters.

“We need additional capital sources," the mayor told his audience. "In the case of Louisville, 11 years ago four percent of our general fund was for pensions. Today it’s 15 percent. So it’s like a business, we’ve had an 11 percent increase in our expenses, but we haven’t been able to raise our prices; that is, we haven’t had a tax increase.”

But fellow Louisvillian and fellow Democrat Rep. Jim Wayne cited a study that showed the local option means lower income residents would pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than wealthier residents.

Abbey Oldham

A well-known Bowling Green restaurant is moving from its historic downtown location after being purchased by a new owner.

Mariah’s 1818 restaurant is headed to the Hitcents Park Plaza, in a different part of the city’s downtown. The restaurant was purchased by the MR Group Monday, and will be one of five restaurants opening in the plaza.

Bowling Green natives have taken to Mariah’s Facebook page to share their feelings on the move. Although there are some who support the change, many are sharing feelings of disappointment, saying that the Mariah’s Moore House location is what creates the beloved atmosphere of the restaurant, and that the new location simply won’t be the same.

Some accused the purchasing group of not understanding the historical significance of Mariah’s Restaurant and its location and what it means to the community.

Mariah’s responded on their Facebook page, saying the new location will provide more space and necessary updates which will better serve the community.

Mariah’s will be opened in the current location through March 31 and will open its new doors in April.

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."

Pages