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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.

T.J. Samson Community Hospital

T.J. Samson Community Hospital in Glasgow has hired an Owensboro native as its next chief executive officer. 

Bud Wethington returns to Kentucky from Texas where he is currently CEO at Tomball Regional Medical Center outside of Houston.  Wethington has more than 30 years of experience in the health care field. 

"Following a national search which began in February, Mr. Wethington was determined to be the best fit for our hospital," said Mike Bryant, board member and search committee chairman, in a news release.  "The health care industry is ever changing, and we need someone with Bud's experience and knowledge so that we can continue to grow and serve this community."

Wethington replaces interim T.J. Samson CEO Henry Royse, who took over when Bill Kindred accepted an early retirement offered by the hospital late last year in a budgetary move.

Century Aluminum Reaches Five Year Deal With Union

Jul 23, 2014

A Webster County aluminum smelter and its workers have reached a new, five-year collective bargaining agreement covering about 400 hourly workers.

The deal between Century Aluminum Sebree LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Century Aluminum Co., and the United Steelworkers Local 9443-00 is effective through October 28, 2019.

Sebree's plant manager, Jason Young, says the deal will keep the plant competitive in the aluminum market.

Century acquired the smelter in June 2013 from Rio Tinto Alcan.

A Hart County manufacturer is announcing plans to expand its facility and add jobs. Dart Container announced today that it will invest $23 dollars to build a new 650,000 square foot warehouse in Horse Cave.

Up to 30 new jobs are expected to be created through the expansion.

Dart Container currently employs approximately 1,400 people at its Hart County operation, where it manufactures cups, bowls, plates, and other food and beverage supplies.

The Michigan-based Dart Container Corporation has been preliminarily approved for $900,000 in state tax incentives and benefits in connection with the project.

A new $150 million aluminum production facility in Bowling Green will create 80 new jobs.

Governor Beshear was on hand Wednesday morning at the Kentucky Transpark as ground was broken on the Japanese-European partnership. The joint venture between Contellium N.V. and UACJ Corporation will create finished aluminum body sheets for cars and trucks.

Construction on the 225,000-square-foot facility will begin this summer.

National outdoor retailer Cabela’s is looking to hire 90 full-time and part-time employees for its Bowling Green store that is scheduled to open in the fall. 

“Customers don’t visit Cabela’s just to make a purchase, they come to learn about the outdoors and our products,” said Reginal Wheeler, general manager of the new store. “We are excited to build a staff of passionate and knowledgeable outdoor enthusiasts who will serve and educate our customers.”

Applications are being accepted online at  Interviews will take place July 13-17 at the Holiday Inn-University Plaza. 

The 42,000-square-foot store is being constructed off I-65 at the intersection of Scottsville Road and Ken Bale Boulevard.

The Bowling Green store will be Cabela’s second Kentucky location.  An 88,000-square-foot store opened in Louisville in 2013.