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A stable of Kentucky lawmakers are learning how natural gas can be developed to meet the state’s transportation needs.   

Industry experts briefed members of the committees on energy and natural resources at the Owensboro convention center Thursday on the viability of natural gas filling stations, which are currently limited across the state.

“It’s an important issue for Kentucky," said Republican Sen. Jared Carpenter, a co-chair of both committees. "Gas has become a major player, in providing energy sources for Kentucky, and that's why we wanted to come to Owensboro."

"One of our members, this is his home community, and they've got a beautiful facility, and they just worked hand-in-hand so we could hear a presentation from the gas association and learn more about what they're doing."

Natural gas is expected to comprise a larger share of the state’s energy sources in the future.

Holley Performance Products says the research and development facility at their Bowling Green headquarters will bring a $1.3 million investment and create 20 new jobs. It's being described as a work cell for designing new exhaust systems.

The work cell will develop and prove new designs, processes and manufacturing techniques. It will focus on improving processes and methods in order to decrease production time, accommodate sales volume and maintain high quality of products.

The facility will allow Holley to expand its exhaust product lines under their Hooker Header and Flowtech brands including premium quality exhaust systems for late model muscle cars and trucks and classic vehicles.

Holley has been in Bowling Green since 1951. It employs more than 250 people at its Russellville Road facility.

Harvard University

Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson is returning to the commonwealth to lead the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. 

Grayson recently resigned as director of the Harvard University Institute of Politics.

In a phone interview Thursday, Grayson told WKU Public Radio that becoming president of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce was the perfect job to come home to.  He said thinks his two terms as secretary of state and his Frankfort and Washington connections will serve him well.                                   

"Somebody in the interview process referred to me as having the best of both worlds where I am a local with some local knowledge, but I also know how Washington and Frankfort works, and how a big city like Boston operates," commented Grayson.

"While he has the flavor of our local community, he brings to us a much wider national perspective," remarked Chamber Chairwoman Debbie Simpson."There are issues that any business organization is dealing with.  People are doing business differently today and our organizations have to adjust to fit that, and I think the fresh perspective that Trey is bringing back will really help us meet those challenges," added Simpson.

Northern Kentucky is facing a couple of immediate challenges, including the aging Brent Spence Bridge and the closing of Toyota’s corporate headquarters.

ShopHQ

ShopHQ is expanding its distribution and call center in Bowling Green.  The governor’s office says the $25 million investment is expected to bring 150 new, full-time jobs to Warren County.  

ShopHQ, which originally moved to town in 1997, is planning to start work immediately to expand its 260,000 square foot center on Nashville Rd.

When it’s complete in 2015, the center will be 600,000 square feet.  ShopHQ is receiving up to $480,000 dollars in tax incentives from the state.

MacDonald & Owen Lumber Company recently acquired the dry kiln facility, Kerr Forest Products, in Bowling Green. Now, the company has been approved for incentives, with plans to invest $2.6 million and create 18 full-time positions.

The hardwood lumber company already has locations on Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.  The company serves a world-wide customer base, offering a product line of more than twenty different species of kiln dried lumber as well as custom drying, planing and sanding.

Owner and CEO David Twite says the move to Bowling Green will allow MacDonald & Owen to extend their global reach through the close proximity to materials and freight options. The company is expecting to produce an additional five million board feet of hardwood lumber annually focusing on high quality Appalachian hardwoods.

This is the second economic development announcement for Bowling Green this year. It brings total capital investment to nearly $153,000 and the creation of 90 new jobs.

Governor Beshear is leading a Kentucky trade mission to the United Kingdom this Sunday.

The Kentucky Export Initiative trade mission will make stops in London and Manchester. Bilateral trade between the Bluegrass State and the U.K. was near $3 billion dollars in 2013, and the U.K. is the commonwealth’s third-largest trade destination, behind only Canada and Mexico.

Kentucky exports more horses to the U.K. than any other state, and ranks in the top five in exporting aerospace products, distilled spirts, printed materials, and charcoal to the country.

During the five day trip, Governor Beshear will be joined by representatives from 11 Kentucky companies, including Bluegrass Dairy of Glasgow; Oscarware Incorporated of Bonnieville; and Whitaker Tools of Campbellsville.

Kentucky exporters have been on a roll lately. Last year the commonwealth exported $25.3 billion in products, the third straight record year for exports.

Constellium N.V., a European aluminum company, and Japanese aluminum company UACJ Corporation say they'll establish an aluminum production facility at the Bowling Green Transpark. A $150 million capital investment is expected and 80 new jobs. It's the largest capital investment for the South Central Kentucky region in more than a decade.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear said the investment further solidifies the state as a key player in the auto industry. The two companies will supply aluminum "Body-in-White" sheet to the North American auto industry. The Joint Venture will have an initial target capacity of 100,000 metric tons, about 220 million pounds, supplied by cold rolled coils supplied by both partners' rolling mills.

Construction of the plant is expected to begin this summer.

There have been ten economic development announcements in the past 18 months in Bowling Green, totaling more than $285 million in capital investment and over 450 new jobs. This is the largest total capital investment in the state of Kentucky so far this year.

A distillery in Owensboro will once again produce Kentucky’s signature spirit.

Officials with TerrePURE Kentucky Distillers announced Tuesday afternoon that they are purchasing the Charles Medley Distillery and will create bourbon and other lines of spirits.

The project is expected to create as many as 70 new jobs at the distillery, which sits on 28 acres of land in Daviess County. TerrePURE will invest $23 million to purchase and refurbish the distillery.

The company plans to renovate and repair buildings at the site, and install new equipment. TerrePURE says its goal is to have the distillery operational in 18 months.

The President of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation, Madison Silvert, says a 2012 economic impact study shows the distilling business has a far-reaching impact on jobs in the Bluegrass State.

“The job multiplier for distilling was 3.19, so that means that for every new distilling job, 2.9 new jobs are created somewhere in the commonwealth," Silvert told WKU Public Radio. "That is the third largest job multiplier of all industries in the state of Kentucky, behind light truck manufacturing and automobiles.”

According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the state exported $383 million of its distilled spirits in 2013. That accounts for 21 percent of the U.S. total in that area.

Silvert added that it will mean a lot to the Owensboro area community to have the Medley Distillery up and running again.

TVA To Cut More Than 10% of Jobs

May 6, 2014

The Tennessee Valley Authority says 750 employees have retired or resigned through a voluntary incentive program, another 1,000 vacant positions are being eliminated and more cuts are on the way. It will be the largest staff reduction at the federal utility in more than 20 years.

Cuts are also planned in TVA's nuclear program and involuntary layoffs are expected later this year. The cuts are being made so staffing levels and electric rates will be more in line with other utilities as power consumption growth slows.

TVA president Bill Johnson says he wants a $500 million reduction in annual expenses by next year.

TVA supplies power to about nine million customers in Kentucky and Tennessee as well as Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Now that Lake Cumberland’s water level is back to its full summer point for the first time in eight years, the head of the state dock there says the region is in for a great tourist season.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced this week that the recent rain in southern Kentucky has pushed Lake Cumberland’s water level to 723 feet above sea level. The water level at the lake was dropped in 2007 while repair work was done on Wolf Creek Dam.

Lake Cumberland State Dock president Bill Jasper told WKU Public Radio it’s been a challenge fighting off negative public perceptions about the lake over the past eight years. He says this week’s news helps erase those problems.

“We’ve still got one of the biggest waterways east of the Mississippi in terms of volume of water, and people thought we were dry. So, we still get that question at boat shows. So this takes away all that uncertainty.”

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