Business news

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.

A distillery in Owensboro will once again produce Kentucky’s signature spirit.

Officials with TerrePURE Kentucky Distillers announced Tuesday afternoon that they are purchasing the Charles Medley Distillery and will create bourbon and other lines of spirits.

The project is expected to create as many as 70 new jobs at the distillery, which sits on 28 acres of land in Daviess County. TerrePURE will invest $23 million to purchase and refurbish the distillery.

The company plans to renovate and repair buildings at the site, and install new equipment. TerrePURE says its goal is to have the distillery operational in 18 months.

The President of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation, Madison Silvert, says a 2012 economic impact study shows the distilling business has a far-reaching impact on jobs in the Bluegrass State.

“The job multiplier for distilling was 3.19, so that means that for every new distilling job, 2.9 new jobs are created somewhere in the commonwealth," Silvert told WKU Public Radio. "That is the third largest job multiplier of all industries in the state of Kentucky, behind light truck manufacturing and automobiles.”

According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the state exported $383 million of its distilled spirits in 2013. That accounts for 21 percent of the U.S. total in that area.

Silvert added that it will mean a lot to the Owensboro area community to have the Medley Distillery up and running again.

TVA To Cut More Than 10% of Jobs

May 6, 2014

The Tennessee Valley Authority says 750 employees have retired or resigned through a voluntary incentive program, another 1,000 vacant positions are being eliminated and more cuts are on the way. It will be the largest staff reduction at the federal utility in more than 20 years.

Cuts are also planned in TVA's nuclear program and involuntary layoffs are expected later this year. The cuts are being made so staffing levels and electric rates will be more in line with other utilities as power consumption growth slows.

TVA president Bill Johnson says he wants a $500 million reduction in annual expenses by next year.

TVA supplies power to about nine million customers in Kentucky and Tennessee as well as Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

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.”

Champion Petfoods USA Inc. plans to open its first U. S. kitchen in Logan County, creating 147 new jobs and an $85 million investment. The company specializes in in "Biologically Appropriate" pet foods using fresh local ingredients. It's headquartered in Alberta, Canada.

Champion's ORIJEN and ACANA dog and cat food brands feature unique, fresh regional ingredients. They're sold in more than 70 countries. The company does not outsource food production and makes all of its products in its own kitchens. The $85 million investment will go toward building a kitchen in Auburn with construction set to begin this summer.

Company executives say Logan County's agricultural heritage and proximity to ranches and farms makes its location a good fit. In a release, Governor Beshear said, "not only will Champion Petfoods bring vital agricultural jobs to the region, but it will also create a new customer base for nearby farmers and ranchers."

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives of up to $8.7 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. KEDFA also approved Champion for tax benefits of up to $1.3 million through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act.

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.


The head of the United Auto Workers Union in Bowling Green says progress is being made nearly two weeks after Corvette Assembly Plant workers voted to authorize a strike. 

Local 21-64 President Eldon Renaud says some of the safety problems at the factory are in the process of being fixed.

"We think the previous manager had ignored some of those issues.  We felt it was important to bring in a new set of eyes and he seems very interested in problem solving," commented Renaud.  "I think the company is going to comply with our request to fix those items.  Some of it just takes time and engineering to develop fixes."

The assembly plant had received two OSHA violations under former manager Dave Tatman, who resigned abruptly in February.  Jeff LeMarche was brought in March 1 as plant manager.

Talks are still underway on some manpower and quality issues, and Renaud adds that the union won’t be satisfied until a new personnel director is in place. 

The local union’s current contract with GM expires in 2015, but Renaud says there were too many pressing issues to wait until then. 

Emil Moffatt

Saturday will be a holiday of sorts for music aficionados and fans of vinyl records, in particular.  It’s the eighth annual Record Store Day, a nationwide event celebrating local brick-and-mortar record stores. 

Matt Pfefferkorn, who owns Mellow Matt’s Music & More in Bowling Green, says the vinyl industry continues to make a strong comeback.

“It’s never really gone away. It’s had its low points, but it’s been on a steady increase since 2007 or 2008. But I think people are finally coming off that MP3 ‘buzz’ that they had and finding out that actually vinyl does truly sound better and it’s a warmer sound.  The people that enjoy music – that’s what they want,” said Pfefferkorn.

According to numbers compiled by Nielsen Soundscan, vinyl record sales last year rose 32 percent, while CD sales continued to fall.   Pfefferkorn says people who frequent record stores enjoy a sense of community they bring.

Governor Makes Tax Credit For Bourbon Makers Official

Apr 15, 2014
Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Kentucky's bourbon industry is about to gain an income tax credit.  Beginning next year, distilleries can get the credit for state and local property taxes paid on aging barrels of bourbon.  Gov. Steve Beshear signed the bill into law Tuesday afternoon. 

Under the new law, distilleries are required to invest the tax credit in capital improvements, including construction, renovation, tourism-related facilities and equipment.  Last year, the barrel tax generated about $14 million in state and local property taxes.


Workers at the General Motors plant in Kentucky that assembles Corvettes have voted to authorize a strike over lingering safety concerns. But a local union leader says he hopes the dispute can be resolved without a walkout.

Union members voted to give union leaders the green light to call a strike if necessary. About 800 union workers were eligible to cast ballots.

Eldon Renaud, president of United Auto Workers Local 2164, says the issues involved include safety and quality control.

He says there have been several "near misses" that could have led to serious injuries for assembly line workers at the Bowling Green plant.

Renaud says he hopes the strike-authorization vote leads to stepped up negotiations.

The plant says worker safety and quality of its products are at the forefront of every decision. It says it's confident management and the union can work together.