Business news


A southwestern Indiana city celebrated an announcement Friday morning, that promises to bring 300 new jobs to town.

Toyota says it will add 70,000 square feet to its production facility that produces The Highlander in Gibson County. Toyota says that means 300 new jobs and a $100 million investment. 

The Princeton Toyota plant already employs some 4,500 workers and turns out Highlanders, Sequoias and Sienna minivans.

Angel's Envy, Michter's, and Evan Williams are just a few of the names highlighting Louisville's growing trade in bourbon.

Just below Cherry Hall, one of WKU's grandest buildings, sits nearly 200,000 square feet of new student housing, built at a cost of $24 million. There is also a 30,000-square-foot, $10 million alumni center, and a 72,500-square-foot, $14.5 million Hyatt Place hotel scheduled to open in 2015. The New York Times profiled the partnership between WKU and Bowling Green that has impacted both campus and community.

For the first time in a year, quarterly data shows an increase in coal production in Eastern Kentucky. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the industry is rebounding. 

TVA to Cut More than 2,000 Jobs

Aug 6, 2014

The nation's largest public utility is eliminating more than 2,000 jobs as part of a $500 million cost-cutting campaign. 

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports the Tennessee Valley Authority is making the cuts this year to pare expenses and make electric rates in the Tennessee Valley more competitive with neighboring utilities.

Most of the staff reductions are being made by not filling vacant jobs and through retirements and resignations by the end of next month.

TVA President Bill Johnson said this week that the voluntary reduction offers were well received and avoided the need for massive firings, although some employees are being laid off.

The staff cuts are the agency's largest in more than two decades.

Westlake Regional Hospital

State Auditor Adam Edelen is conducting a financial stress test of Kentucky’s rural hospitals.  He’s hosting a series of public meetings across the state this summer to get a better understanding of the challenges facing small, community hospitals.

"In a state in which 45 percent of people rely on rural hospitals for their hospital care, I think we have a moral and financial obligation to make sure we're doing everything we can to keep rural hospitals open," Edelen told WKU Public Radio.

Hospitals are expressing concerns about the expanding Medicaid rolls under the Affordable Care Act.  Also, Kentucky’s transition to Medicaid managed care in 2011 is still presenting problems.

"We're still seeing no pay and slow pay issues that are constricting the cash flow of rural hospitals which is making it more difficult to keep their doors open," added Edelen.  "Hospitals have also had to increase their administrative burden and that's something that can push a teetering hospital into bankruptcy."

Edelen cited the Nicholas County Hospital which declared bankruptcy and closed in May, laying off 80 employees.

The Auditor’s office is seeking the financial records of more than 60 hospitals in rural eastern and western Kentucky.  Edelen plans to issue a report this fall to the governor and legislature. 

Sales incentives helped U.S. auto sales rise in July, as major auto companies reported selling more than 120,000 more vehicles than the same month last year. GM retained its spot as the U.S. sales leader.

Sales of passenger cars rose by nearly 5 percent this July compared to last year, with sales of light trucks even higher, at 13.4 percent, according to data released Friday by research firm Autodata Corp.

GM sold 256,160 vehicles last month, beating Toyota's 215,802 and Ford's 211,467.

Freezer Company Creating Jobs in Todd County

Jul 30, 2014

A manufacturer of custom coolers and freezers has expanded to Todd County in southern Kentucky.

Governor Steve Beshear's office says Custom Cooler Inc. is creating 75 jobs and investing nearly $5.8 million in the manufacturing facility.  The project is Custom Cooler's second manufacturing facility in the U.S.

The 117,000-square-foot operation in Todd County will serve customers throughout the eastern and central United States and internationally.  Beshear's office says Kentucky beat out three other states for the investment.

Custom Cooler was established in California in 2006. It serves more than 300 domestic and international customers in the food industry.

To encourage the investment, the state gave preliminary approval for the company to receive performance-based tax incentives of up to $1.5 million.

Flickr/Creative Commons

A newly formed automotive organization in Kentucky wants to help the industry speak with a unified voice.

Dave Tatman is now head of the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association, following 34 years with General Motors. The former plant manager of the Bowling Green G.M. plant believes too many people are unaware of the importance the industry has on the state’s economy.

"So we've got to create that kind of brand identity for Kentucky as the place to do business for automotive businesses, not only for the ones that are here, but the ones that are considering coming here,” Tatman said. “I think North America is searching for the next automotive cluster outside of Detroit and I think we could be that."

Given the already sizeable presence in the state held by G.M., Ford, and Toyota, Tatman doubts the commonwealth will land another major automaker.

"But, I think our best opportunities exist in really, two fold, in growth of existing businesses because the automotive market continues to expand and do well throughout the globe, so growth of our existing businesses and then attracting new supplier businesses to the Commonwealth."

Kentucky ranks third nationally in light vehicle production, with the state’s automotive exports reaching a record $5.5 billion last year.

Group Seeks Tax Incentives for Ark Park

Jul 28, 2014

The group seeking to build a proposed Noah's Ark theme park in Grant County is once again seeking approval of tax incentives.

The Courier-Journal reports Ark Encounter is expected to return to Frankfort on Tuesday to seek the incentives.

Three years ago, the group won approval of incentives for its entire $172.5 million project. But because of funding problems, it withdrew that application and now is seeking approval for a $73 million first phase of the biblical theme park.

Ark Encounter is applying to participate in a program that allows eligible tourism attractions a rebate of 25 percent of the sales tax they collect on admission tickets, souvenirs, food and other things over 10 years. For this application, the rebates would be as much as $18.25 million.