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A Kentucky state representative who has co-sponsored legislation to limit the use of surveillance drones says the bill provides an exemption for the use of drones by businesses, like the ones that Amazon plans to use for the delivery of products.

Brent Yonts says his support of the bipartisan bill hinges upon an exception for business drones.

“There are a lot of business uses for drones," said the Muhlenberg County Democrat. "For example, at certain heights that are low to the ground, they’re used in agriculture purposes to look for bugs in crops, for drought areas that might need to be irrigated and any number of things that are cheap and quick and efficient.”

Yonts says his bill's intent is to make sure drones are not invading Kentuckians’ privacy. The drones Amazon plans to begin using in four to five years are capable of delivering five pound packages to a location within 10 miles of one of its distribution centers.

Kentucky has a number of these centers that are closer to urban areas like Lexington and Louisville.

Kentucky Vehicle Exports up 43 Percent in 2013

Nov 27, 2013

Vehicle exports from Kentucky were up 43 percent through the first nine months of the year, setting a state record.

Governor Steve Beshear said the state exported more than $3 billion worth of vehicles between January and September and will likely top $4 billion by year's end.  That, he said, translates into more jobs and a stronger economy for Kentucky.

The previous record for vehicle exports was $2.7 billion set last year.

Beshear said a significant part of the growth is the result of exports to Saudi Arabia, which now is the second largest buyer of Kentucky-made automobiles.

Canada remains the top consumer of vehicles produced in Kentucky.

Exports of all Kentucky products also are on a record pace, having reached $18.4 billion as of September.

The Kentucky Transpark in Warren County is gaining another tenant. 

Horizon Steel will co-occupy a plant with the Bilstein Group.  Bilstein, a German auto supplier, announced in October it would open its U.S. headquarters in the Transpark.  Horizon will become Bilstein’s exclusive processor of steel products.  Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson made the announcement in Bowling Green Tuesday.

“This community is part of the overall efforts by Governor Beshear and myself as we work toward trying to create, through the difficult financial times that we’re all living through, as economically vibrant a Commonwealth as we possibly can,” said Abramson.  “Attracting companies like Horizon Steel is right in line, right in the sweet spot of where we want to be in terms of the future of Kentucky.”

Bilstein previously announced it would create 90 jobs while Horizon plans to add 30 positions.

General Motors

A national publication has named the 2014 Corvette Stingray as Automobile of the Year.  In an announcement Saturday in Michigan, the car was recognized for its “newfound sophistication and heart-pounding performance.” 

The Stingray, produced at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant, is the first new version of the iconic sports car in nine years. 

Jean Jennings is President and Editor-in-Chief of Automobile Magazine.  She told WKU Public Radio that given General Motors’ near collapse, the car is a “stunning achievement.”

“In the darkest times, the engineers and designers never let off the gas, never let a detail slide by as good enough," remarked Jennings.

Another GM vehicle, the Cadillac CTS, came in second place among contenders for Automobile of the 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.

Emil Moffatt

 A German company plans to invest $120 million dollars to bring a production plant to Bowling Green.
 
The Bilstein Group says the plant will  bring 90 new, full-time jobs to the area.  Governor Steve Beshear was on hand for the announcement Wednesday at Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce headquarters. Beshear, who just returned from a trip to Europe said he met with Bilstein executives on a previous trip. 

The company makes cold-rolled strip steel products for the auto industry.  It will be the Bilstein Group’s second facility in North America.  

“At the end of a long and thorough decision making process," said Bilstein CEO Marc Oehler. "I can say we are absolutely certain that Bowling Green is the perfect spot for our new [facility] being both sufficiently close to our customers and suppliers as well as within reach from Europe and any place in North America.”

Enrollment has just begun and there are already some scams related to the Affordable Care Act. 

Reanna Smith-Hamblin with the Better Business Bureau of Kentucky and Indiana says scammers love to prey on confusion over such complex things as the health care law, so her advice is to never give personal information to unsolicited callers.

“This people are after your personal, your identity, so be very careful about anyone that contacts you on the Affordable Care Act," advises Smith-Hamblin.

She adds that you can't even trust caller ID because of spoofing devices that make it look like scammers are calling from a particular place, when in fact, they are not.

Kevin Willis

A federal judge in Texas has ruled against Churchill Down Incorporated in a challenge over online gambling laws.

The Louisville-based company was hoping the judge would throw out a Texas law that bans internet gambling offered by the racetrack’s website.

The Courier-Journal reports the Texas  Racing Commission has recently started to enforce a law requiring that all gambling on horse racing be done in person at the racetrack. The law was later revised by Texas authorities to explicitly outlaw online wagering.

Churchill claimed the “in person” part of the law was a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause. But the Texas judge rejected that argument, saying that Churchill Downs and other racetracks can reach gamblers in the Lonestar State through simulcasting—something that is permitted under Texas law.

Churchill started Twinspires.com in 2007 in order to take bets online and over the phone.

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.

Daviess County Leaders Drum Up Interest in I-67 Plan

Sep 11, 2013

Business leaders in Indiana and Kentucky are joining forces to drive interest in a cost-effective interstate proposal that would use existing infrastructure to link the states.

The Interstate 67 project would tie into Interstate 69 near Washington, Ind., and eventually link up with Interstate 65 in Bowling Green, Ky.

Washington Mayor Joe Wellman says the ability to tie into I-69 in Washington has spurred interest among Daviess County officials.

The Washington Times-Herald reports a $200,000 study shows the road would draw at least 16,000 vehicles a day and could ease congestion on I-65 near Louisville.

Coalition member Hank Menke says there's no money for the project right now. But he hopes the study has sent a strong message to state transportation officials that the idea is worth considering.

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.

Two Republican Congressmen from Kentucky will host a field hearing in Lexington Tuesday titled "Health Care Challenges Facing Kentucky's Workers and Job Creators. 

"This is an official Congressional hearing where witnesses will offer testimony that will become part of the Congressional record," says U.S. Representative Andy Barr of Lexington.

Representative Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green is also hosting the hearing that will focus on the Affordable Care Act.  The federal health care overhaul requires employers with 50 or more full-time workers to provide health insurance or pay penalties.  Last month, the Obama administration pushed back implementation of the employer mandate until January of 2015.

Kentucky's two largest children's hospitals are partnering to provide better pediatric care across the state.  Kosair Children's Hospital and U-K Children's Hospital have signed a letter intent to join forces and will spend the next few months working out the details. 

"Bottom line is, we can do more together than separately," says Stephens Williams, CEO of Norton Healthcare, which owns and operates Kosair.  "Our goal is to continue to expand services, certainly allowing us to better compete with children's hospitals in our border states." 

Williams says the collaboration will allow the hospitals to recruit more specialty pediatricians to handle some of the chronic diseases that plague Kentucky children such as obesity and diabetes. 

The partnership will also build upon collaborations the two hospitals already have with their cancer and transplant programs. 

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