A new study from the University of Tennessee finds that talk isn’t cheap when it comes to speeches by politicians. Specifically, co-author Larry Fauver says the tone and content of governors' state of the state speeches is linked to financial investments in their states.
"Our results showed that there is new information that the governor is revealing to the market," explains Dr. Fauver. "In addition to that, it's also about the tone of the speech, what the governor will do in the future."
The study analyzed 388 state of the state speeches around the country between 2002 and 2010, and the investment behavior of more than 5,700 companies over the same period. In the year following a more optimistic speech, businesses invested two percent more of their capital than in states where the governors had a more pessimistic outlook.
Some of the state's top economists are forecasting that modest growth in Kentucky's economy will add nearly $500 million in revenue to the state's General Fund budget by 2016.
Revenue will swell from more than $9.5 billion in the 2014 fiscal year to nearly $9.8 billion in 2015 before hitting $10 billion for the first time in 2016.
The economists, serving on a government advisory panel known as the Consensus Forecasting Group, reviewed the latest economic trends during a four-hour meeting Thursday, concluding that Kentucky will continue on a path of recovery.
The panel's chairman, Eastern Kentucky University professor Frank O'Connor, described the predicted growth as "just modest, not robust." O'Connor said he expects more spending on big-ticket items like automobiles as the economy continues to improve.
The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is driving home a second car of the year award.
The vehicle manufactured at the Bowling Green General Motors plant has been named Autoweek's Best Car for 2014. Automobile magazine last month gave similar honors to the Stingray.
"The thing about the Corvette is that it's always been a good sports car for the money. But I can tell you that it's really the best sports car you can buy right now regardless of price," said Wes Raynal, editor of Autoweek.
Raynal says the new Corvette has a more comfortable and better-built interior than previous versions of the vehicle. He believes the Stingray will continue the Corvette's image as an iconic car.
"I don't know if you've ever seen that poster of the '63 Stingray, and the tagline is something like, 'They don't write songs about Volvos,'" Raynal told WKU Public Radio. "It's part of America. It's like Elvis, and Bruce Springsteen, and Coca-Cola, and Levi's."
A national retailer for hunting, fishing, and outdoor gear will open a store in Bowling Green in 2014. Cabela's will build a 42,000-square-foot store, making it the second in Kentucky, joining one in Louisville.
Communications Specialist Wes Remmer told WKU Public Radio that the Cabela’s Outpost store will be among the company's smallest.
“The Outposts are about 40,000 square feet, whereas, some of our other retail locations can range up to 250,000 square feet," explains Remmer. "The Outposts are a way to get into those smaller markets.”
Cabela’s will open the Bowling Green store next fall and employ about 90 full-time, part-time, and seasonal workers.
Cabela's Outpost will be located at the intersection of Scottsville Road and Ken Bale Boulevard.
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.
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.
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.
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.