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A business research magazine has released its annual list of the Best and Worst states as favored by business executives, ranking Tennessee at number 4.  

“Chief Executive” surveyed over 500 leading CEOs across the country making measuring in three categories: tax and regulation, workforce quality, and living environment. That last category includes education, cost of living, affordable housing and crime rates. 

Texas took the top spot, followed by Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee, which was in the number 3 spot last year. 

CEOs say they picked the Volunteer state for its low taxes and Right-to-Work status calling it a hotbed for automotive manufacturers. 

Kentucky ranked in at 28 with CEOs noting a high-value living environment, but concern about tax and strong regulatory policies. 

Illinois maintained its rank amongst the worst states at number 48.  

See a full-listing of Chief Executive rankings here

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Tennesseans will soon be able to have alcoholic beverages delivered straight to their doors.

A law signed by Governor Bill Haslam that goes into effect July 1 allows third-party restaurant delivery services to buy alcohol from retailers and deliver it to consumers. The Tennessean reports that the owner of a Nashville-area food delivery service predicts his sales will increase 50-to-100 percent once he’s able to deliver alcohol to consumers.

Companies will be allowed to deliver up to a gallon of alcohol per customer, per delivery.

Consumers must show a valid form of ID, and all delivery drivers must be at least 21 years of age and pass a criminal background check. Any business delivering alcohol must get at least half of its gross sales from food delivery.

Craft bourbon, like craft beer, is in the midst of a boom: In the past 15 years, the number of distilleries in the U.S. has surged from just a handful to around 600.

National Corvette Museum

A ten-county region in southern Kentucky is seeing the biggest increase in tourism revenue in the state.

The region including Warren, Barren, Simpson, and Logan counties experienced a 6.7 percent jump in tourism and travel spending in 2014 versus the year before. A report from the Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet says the state saw a 4.4 percent increase in tourism dollars last year. 

Telia Butler, with the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, says record-setting attendance at the National Corvette Museum was one reason why the southern Kentucky region saw its gains.

“We definitely can thank the sinkhole that happened in February of last year. They made lemonade out of lemons out of what could have been a very negative thing over what happened over there,” Butler said, referring to the sinkhole that opened up beneath the Corvette Museum’s skydome, swallowing up several vintage vehicles.

Far from driving visitors away from the museum, the massive publicity created by the story drew visitors from around the world to the Bowling Green attraction.

Boundary Oak Distillery

A craft distillery that began production last year in central Kentucky is expanding to a second location in Hardin County.

Boundary Oak Distillery says it will set up another production still in a building offered by the city of Radcliff.

Boundary Oak owner and master distiller Brent Goodin plans to use the new site for production and storage and as a visitors' center.

Goodin has resumed his family's whiskey-making tradition that dates to the late 1700s in Kentucky.

His distillery makes bourbon, moonshine and other spirits. He began production last spring at a distillery on the family farm outside Elizabethtown.

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The head of Kentucky’s Chamber of Commerce says he’s not giving up hopes that lawmakers will fix the state’s troubled pension systems.

Dave Adkisson says his group was disappointed that the recent General Assembly failed to pass both a $3.3 billion dollar bond issue to support the pension fund for teachers, and a bill mandating an independent study of that program.

Adkisson says legislators must eventually act in order to protect not only pensioners, but also the state’s bond rating.

“If Western Kentucky University is building a new building, if you’re building a new city hall, a new courthouse, a new highway, a new dormitory—those things can cost more because the bonds are lower-rates, and the interest rates are higher.”

The teacher’s pension system only has 53-percent of the money it needs to make future payouts to about 141,000 retired teachers. Earlier this year, KTRS officials said if bonds weren’t issued, the state’s required contributions to the system would double by 2026.

Adkisson, a former mayor of Owensboro, also said Tuesday that he hopes the state’s next governor will stick with changes made to Kentucky’s academic standards.

Angel's Envy

International spirits company Bacardi Limited has made its entry into the booming bourbon market with the purchase, announced today, of a Louisville-based bourbon maker.

Bacardi is the new owner of Angel’s Share Brands. The company includes the popular Angel’s Envy bourbon, developed by the late Lincoln Henderson and his family. Henderson was a longtime master distiller for Brown-Forman Corporation.

Angel’s Envy is currently distilled off-site and aged in port wine barrels.

One of the largest employers in south central Kentucky is looking to expand. 

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority has given Logan Aluminum preliminary approval for more than $5 million in tax incentives. 

The proposed $282 million expansion at the Russellville plant would create 188 jobs. 

Logan County Judge-Executive Logan Chick says the expansion would mean a lot to the region.

"If you drive around that parking lot and look at the license plates, you'll see as many cars with license plates out of the county as you do inside the county," added Chick.

Logan Aluminum produces flat-rolled aluminum primarily for the beverage can market.  President Randy Schumaker told WKU Public Radio the company’s expansion would likely include producing aluminum sheets for the auto industry. 

Logan Aluminum has a current workforce of 1,072 employees.

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Update :

Wilson Sporting Goods will pay $70 million for the Louisville Slugger brand, the companies’ representatives said Monday in a news conference.

With the deal, 52 Hillerich and Bradsby Co. employees will be laid off, mostly from positions such as accounting and information technology, the companies’ representatives said. Currently, H&B has about 270 employees; some other positions will move to operate under Wilson.

The companies do not plan to overlap the brands—in other words, Wilson and Louisville Slugger branding won’t appear on the same merchandise. But companies may someday begin to use the Slugger brand on other merchandise besides bats and gloves.

Original post:

Hillerich and Bradsby Co. is turning over “global brand, sales and innovation rights” for the Louisville Slugger brand to Wilson Sporting Goods, marking a major change for one of the city’s signature brands.

The sporting goods companies announced the deal Monday morning.

The deal is pending Hillerich and Bradsby stockholder approval.

Kentucky’s unemployment rate last month plunged to 5.2 percent, the lowest rate in ten years.  It was a decrease from January’s jobless rate of 5.7 percent. 

Seven of the state’s 11 job sectors saw gains in February.  One of the most encouraging signs is the rebound in the construction sector.

"Construction had gone down so much during the recession and we're seeing gains in that sector," says Kim Saylor Brannock, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. "We had 1.200 more jobs in February than we did in January.  If you look at February a year ago, we've got 5,700 more jobs."

The professional and business services sector had the most gains last month.  

February was the seventh straight month where jobless rates in Kentucky have been lower than the national average.

This past January, the Republican-led Kentucky Senate did what it does just about every year: It passed a statewide right-to-work bill.

Keeping with tradition, when the bill arrived at the Democratic-controlled House, it died.

For decades, Democrats have rejected efforts to allow employees in unionized companies the freedom to choose whether to join a union.

Now, the battle has shifted from the statehouse to individual counties.

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Nissan Motor Co. is building a new $160 million supplier park at its Tennessee assembly plant in Smyrna that the Japanese automaker says will lead to the creation of more than 1,000 jobs.

Nissan North America Chairman Jose Munoz on Tuesday called the supplier park a key component in the company's drive toward capturing 10 percent of the U.S. market share.

Nissan's plans call for the new 1.5 million-square-foot logistics center to be built in phases starting next year and completed by the end of 2017.

More than 8,400 people work at the Nissan plant that built 648,000 vehicles last year, making it the highest-producing plant in North America. The plant, which opened in 1983, makes the Altima, Maxima, Leaf, Rogue, Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60.

For the first time in about a century, there are no working union coal miners in Kentucky. The state’s few remaining union coal miners were laid off New Years Eve when Patriot Coal’s Highland Mine in Western Kentucky shut down.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Erica Peterson of WFPL reports that the union is struggling to appeal to younger coal miners, but others feel organized labor still has a role to play.

The Kentucky legislature is working to keep up with relatively new on-line ride-sharing services. The House Transportation Committee Tuesday approved a Senate measure which impacts the ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber.

The bill's supporters say it serves to protect riders and company drivers by guaranteeing adequate insurance coverage. Oldham County Senator Ernie Harris is sponsoring the bill. "It clears the way for them to continue to operate and be regulated and have a level playing field with regard to insurance requirements," said Harris.

Harris says the measure also seeks to allow for enough flexibility through regulations to keep up with changes in ride-sharing businesses or Transportation Network Companies. "What do you do when an Uber or Lyft driver turns their app on their phone between then and when they actually get to pick up their passenger?" asked Harris. "That has been the sticking point."

Harris says an emergency insurance regulation could be put in place in the next few months. If enacted, the new law would not become effective until mid-July. Harris says transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft have typically exceeded state standards for liability insurance coverage.

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Louisville is one of 21 communities across the U.S. committing to increasing access to high tech jobs, city officials said Monday.

The city’s effort is part of a larger federal initiative announced Monday aimed at getting Americans to fill the increasing number of vacant information technology jobs in the U.S.

Employers around the country are having a hard time finding qualified and skilled workers for these positions. The national initiative, announced by President Obama, aims to get communities to train people for those jobs.

During a conference call with the White House, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was identified as one of the community leaders working with employers and the federal government to extend training opportunities to residents.

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