Business news

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Kentucky’s distillers want to be able to sell drinks by the glass, just like wineries and breweries.

Current state law prohibits distilleries from selling drinks to visitors, something spirits producers say costs them money. Distillers can offer guests a tasting as part of a tour, but each person is limited to a total of one ounce of liquor.

Kentucky Distillers’ Association Director of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs Kristin Meadors says her group has been speaking with lawmakers and is prepared to help craft legislation ahead of the 2016 General Assembly.

Meadors believes allowing distilleries to sell to visitors the bourbon, rye, vodka, and other spirits they produce on site would help elevate the Kentucky distillery experience to what is found in other parts of the country.

“When you go to a winery in Napa, what do you do? They provide you with a flight, and you purchase a flight for sometimes 20, 30, or 50 bucks. And so you sit there and enjoy it, and you pair it with some wonderful foods,” Meadors told WKU Public Radio.

“So we want you to linger a little bit more, experience a distillery, and pair the bourbon with some great Kentucky Proud products that we have across the state.”

The changes sought by the KDA would allow a distillery visitor to purchase a shot of a small batch spirit, a flight of spirits, or a cocktail.

Andrew Buchanan

Bourbon County will soon have its first locally-produced bourbon on the market since Prohibition.

The Gentleman Distillery is located in downtown Paris, and is aging its whiskey in much smaller barrels and for shorter amounts of time than most bourbon producers. Co-owner and head distiller Andrew Buchanan says their bourbon will stay in the barrels for four to five months—as opposed to years.

“We can really push through and get a product to market a whole lot quicker, which obviously helps smaller, startup distilleries get a product with some age, and color, and taste.

Four Roses Names Owensboro Native Master Distiller

Jul 20, 2015
Brent Elliott

Owensboro native Brent Elliott didn’t realize where his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Kentucky might take him. 

For a while, it led him to laboratories, analyzing soil and water samples for agencies like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Ten years ago that chemistry degree led him to Four Roses Distillery, where he’s most recently held the position of director of quality.

Elliott has just been named master distiller at Four Roses. He said it’s his dream job.       

Six Things to Know About Humana

Jul 3, 2015
WikiMedia Commons

Aetna’s move to buy Louisville-based health insurance company Humana means a big change for one of the city’s most prominent companies. The sale agreement was announced Friday and won’t close for a while, but until then Louisville leaders will be considering what changes are in store for the city. Here’s some basic information about Humana:

  • Louisville-based health care company Humana was founded in 1961 by Louisville lawyers David Jones and Wendell Cherry.
  • What began as a chain of nursing homes and hospital acquisitions has become a different business through a series of changes. Humana now has 57,000 employees and insures more than 14 million through Medicare, Medicaid and commercial plans. It’s Louisville’s second-largest employer. About 12,000 employees are reported to be in Louisville.
  • In 1981, Humana Inc. established The Humana Foundation, which serves as the philanthropic side of the company. The foundation has supported events, festivals–including the Humana Festival of New American Plays–and other causes. The Foundation’s focus is improving long-term community health. has donated more than $250 million to nonprofit organizations and social institutions.
  • Humana Inc.’s offerings includes retail, employer group, and healthcare services. They sell retail items to individuals, products and plans to employer groups, and control businesses which offer various health-related services.
  • Before the planned sale, Humana had an estimated $32-billion market value. That places as one of the county’s largest health care companies, though smaller than Aetna ($41 billion) . Humana has reportedly been  in talks with potential buyers recently.
  • Some analysts predict that if Humana were a part of a larger company, it could negotiate better doctor contracts and create a stronger network of providers.

6 Things to Know About Humana

Jul 3, 2015
Humana BuildingWikimedia Commons

Humana Building

In what could prove the largest-ever merger in the insurance industry, Aetna has announced a $37 billion deal to acquire rival Humana.

The agreement, announced by the Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna, "would bolster Aetna's presence in the state- and federally funded Medicaid program and Tricare coverage for military personnel and their families," according to The Associated Press.

Aetna to Buy Rival Health Insurer Humana

Jul 3, 2015

Health insurer Aetna Inc. has made a deal to buy Louisville-based competitor Humana Inc. in a $37 billion deal the companies say would create the second-largest managed care company.

Adding Humana's large business in Medicare Advantage, the federal health care program for seniors, would make Humana the nation's largest Medicare Advantage provider.

Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna says it will retain Humana's Louisville headquarters as the base for its Medicare, Medicaid and military Tricare businesses.

David Dubofsky is a finance professor at the University of Louisville. He says the deal was inevitable.

“In order to be competitive these companies are being forced to get bigger, they have to realize cost saving, the cost savings unfortunately come at the cost of the employees and ten they have to have more market power to be able to reduce their costs which are the payments they make to doctors," Dubofsky noted.

Dubofsky says he expects the deal to bring higher rates and lead to a reduction in local jobs because of duplication.

Humana is Louisville’s largest publicly-traded company, with a workforce of more than 12,000.

General Motors has named a new manager for the Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green. 

Kai Spade will take the helm September 2nd.  The announcement was made in a blog post by the National Corvette Museum. 

Spade is currently Director of European Powertrain Test Facilities, Engineering Operations, and Quality in Ruesselshiem, Germany. 

He replaces Jeff Lamarche who was promoted to plant manager at Flint Assembly and Stamping in Michigan.

Kentucky officials say a company that will design, build and install automated machinery for manufacturers will open a facility in Hodgenville.

Governor Steve Beshear's office said Wednesday that Karbec LLC plans to create 48 jobs and invest $1 million in the project in central Kentucky.

Karbec will mainly serve the automotive industry but will expand into other sectors as well.

Karbec officials say most of the company's competitors are in Canada and the Detroit area. They say the increasing number of automotive manufacturers in Kentucky makes the commonwealth a good fit.

State officials say Kentucky is home to 465 motor vehicle-related establishments, including four major auto assembly plants.

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

Kentucky's ban on corporate contributions to political parties and state candidates is being challenged by a group pushing right-to-work legislation opposed by organized labor.

Protect My Check Inc. filed a lawsuit Thursday in Kentucky seeking to overturn the corporate contribution ban.

The federal lawsuit claims the ban violates equal protection and free-speech rights.

Protect My Check says it wants to make political contributions but is prohibited by Kentucky law. The group pushes legislation allowing employees at unionized workplaces to opt out of paying union dues without losing their jobs.

Protect My Check notes unions and limited liability corporations can contribute to candidates and political parties in Kentucky.

Defendants are Kentucky Registry of Election Finance officials. Registry officials declined immediate comment, saying they had not yet seen the suit.

Adam Edelen, Facebook

Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen announced the launch of an investigation into issues surrounding Bowling Green’s Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, district Wednesday at the city’s Chamber of Commerce.

The TIF program allows local governments to use tax revenues they would get in the future to fund current improvements.

In Bowling Green, $25.5 million in bonds were issued for construction of business properties surrounding a parking garage. But Edelen said it’s not clear where that money has gone.

“The project collapsed this year after restaurants in the commercial wrap of the parking garage in Block 6 of the Bowling Green TIF district, and contractors alleged they hadn’t been paid.”

Edelen said two auditors have been assigned to examine all the parties and contracts  involved in the project.

Lisa Autry

Site Selection magazine recently ranked Kentucky the top state for economic development projects per capita last year. 

Wednesday, Governor Steve Beshear brought the Governor’s Cup trophy to Bowling Green to celebrate the region’s contributions to the award.

"Bowling Green and Warren County has been one of the brightest spots in Kentucky over this last eight years that I've been governor and it just continues to grow," Beshear told WKU Public Radio.

Site Selection ranked Bowling Green 4th in the magazine’s “Top 10 Metro Areas of 2014” for new and expanded facilities among metropolitan areas with populations less than 200,000. 

Glasgow ranked among the nation’s top micropolitan areas for business creation. 

Beshear said the rankings are a testament to how far the state has come since the Great Recession.


A Lexington brewing and distilling company is setting up a beer production line in Bowling Green.

Alltech, which produces Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, delivered a production-level brewing system Wednesday to WKU’s Center for Research and Development. No date has been set as to when the production line will begin operating, though it could start sometime this fall.

When complete, the brewing system would be the largest to be located at a university.

Alltech is leasing the space from WKU and will begin a craft beer brewing operation, while also paying the renovation and installation costs.

Meanwhile, some WKU administrators have been working on a proposal for a major and minor in brewing and distillation. Potter College of Arts & Letters Assistant Dean Andrew McMichael says the university has been seeking input from industry leaders.

New Call Center in Somerset to Bring 150 Jobs

Jun 2, 2015

A new customer service call center is planned for Somerset, creating 150 jobs. 

EOS USA plans to invest nearly $4 million into the project.

Governor Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced the project last week and said the center is expected to be open by the end of the year.

EOS USA is a subsidiary of German-based EOS Group, which operates 50 companies in 26 countries and has more than 8,500 employees. Beshear's office said EOS USA employs more than 1,000 in North America.

The state has approved the company for tax incentives of up to $2 million.

Four Roses to Expand Production Capacity at Two Locations

May 28, 2015
Four Roses

A Kentucky bourbon distillery is planning a $55 million expansion at two different locations.

Four Roses plans to invest $34 million to add production capacity at its Lawrenceburg distillery. A separate $21 million investment will add new warehouses at its Bullitt County property.

The projects will receive over $1 million in state tax incentives.

The news comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this springs that Four Roses was expanding its Bullitt County bottling plant that will include a high-speed production line and a separate line producing a single-barrel version of the bourbon.