economy

Benny Becker

The sound of power tools blends with teenage chatter as students clamber around, under, and over a trailer bed that they’re busy turning into a home. They’re part of a project called “Building It Forward,” which has vocational classes building tiny houses as a way of gaining practical skills and new confidence.

Just a few feet from the garage door at the back of the room, there’s a vertical rock face. It’s all coal from the ground up at least ten feet. Coal here can be a reminder of the past — of the time when this land that the school sits on was blasted flat by miners; of times when coal jobs were plentiful here in eastern Kentucky.


LBJ Library/public domain

Law professor Philip Alston is a United Nations expert on extreme poverty. In his position as a U.N. Special Rapporteur  he reports on places where pervasive poverty and human rights issues intersect, places such as Haiti, south Asia and central Africa. His latest work, however, is taking him to parts of the U.S., including the Ohio Valley.

“The United States has been very keen for me and others to investigate human rights issues in other countries, which I have done,” Alston said. “Now, it's the turn to look at what's going on in the U.S. There are pretty extreme levels of poverty in the United States given the wealth of the country. And that does have significant human rights implications.”

Becca Schimmel

A southern Kentucky judge said the cost of incarceration is changing the way Kentucky deals with drug offenders.

Warren Circuit Court Judge Steve Wilson said he’s seen a shift in how Kentucky’s legislators view incarceration for drug crimes. He said legislators are increasingly talking to him and other judges about alternatives to jail. He said the cost of keeping people behind bars has a lot to do with that shifting mindset.

Lisa Autry

For some Kentuckians, Wal-Mart is now offering a game changer when it comes to grocery shopping. 

The company launched its online grocery sales and pickup service at its two Bowling Green stores on Wednesday.

Consumers can select their items online, drive to the store, and have personal shoppers load their groceries without ever leaving their vehicle.  

Andrew Myers is the assistant manager of e-commerce at Wal-Mart's Morgantown Road location.  He says the pickup service is a sign of the times as more shoppers seek convenience.

The Tax Foundation Business Tax Climate Index

A new report from the Tax Foundation ranks Kentucky’s Business tax climate 33rd in the nation. The foundation hopes the report will serve as a guide while both the state and federal governments consider tax reform.

The Business Tax Climate Index examines how competitive a state’s tax code is, and how well it encourages businesses to locate in that state.

“When we look at Kentucky, the reason the state ranks a little below average on our index, isn’t, say, the corporate income tax rate. It is things like the fact that Kentucky has an inventory tax," said Jared Walczak, lead author of the report.

Becca Schimmel

Thelma Daulton goes to the salon to get her hair done at the same time every Friday. She gets picked up at her house and greeted by one of many familiar faces from the Rural Transit Enterprises, Coordinated, or RTEC.

Daulton is 95 years old and has been riding the public transit system in Somerset, Kentucky, for about 15 years. Daulton said her daughter would like for her to move closer to Bowling Green, but Daulton likes her community and has no intention of leaving.


The U.S. economy shed 33,000 jobs in September, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while unemployment fell to 4.2 percent.

The September payrolls drop broke a nearly seven-year streak of continuous job gains, but economists caution that the drop is likely representing the short-term consequences of bad weather, not a long-term shift in the job market.

Before this report, the economy had added an average of about 175,000 jobs per month; the unemployment rate has been at 4.3 or 4.4 percent since April.

Facebook Founder Visits Rural Kentucky Schools

Sep 26, 2017
Bruce Parsons

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in West Virginia and Kentucky over the weekend to see some innovative ways that schools are using new technology.

Zuckerberg has been traveling the country working on his New Year’s resolution to speak with people in every state. On Sunday, he met with educators and students from across Eastern Kentucky.

Students showed Zuckerberg a small mobile house, called a tiny home, that they built in a high school shop class. He also toured a drone assembly lab and took a moment to play a virtual reality video game with some students who designed it.

Becca Schimmel

A family-owned German manufacturer is beginning operations at its facility in Bowling Green. Bilstein Cold Rolled Steel expects to employ about 110 people at its plant.

The company creates thin pieces of steel for a variety of industries. Construction on the Warren County plant began in 2015. CEO Mark Loik said about 85 percent of their material will be sourced domestically, including some suppliers in Kentucky. He says Bilstein looked at about four states but decided to locate in Bowling Green because it’s a growing community and the quality of the infrastructure.

Coal Country Tech Job Program Heads For New Round

Aug 30, 2017
Benny Becker

Last summer Melissa Anderson was unemployed and trying to keep her Pike County, Kentucky, home from falling into foreclosure.

“I built it,” she said. “And, you know, for me to lose that home would have been devastating.”

Anderson was among more than 800 people who applied for a little more than 50 trainee positions with TechHire Eastern Kentucky. The government-supported program pays participants to learn computer code and create phone apps. TechHire aimed to jumpstart tech jobs in the economically struggling region and diversify the job base in coal country.


flickr creative commons Thomas Hawk

General Electric Appliances is moving the production of its Zoneline hotel air-conditioner and refrigeration line from Louisville to Tennessee.

The move will displace 140 Kentucky workers, but provide 210 jobs to its facility in the southwestern Tennessee town of Selmer. The Courier-Journal reports Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said earlier this week that a facility owned by GE's Chinese parent company, Haier, won the Zoneline business as part of a $9.3 million expansion.

Becca Schimmel

President Trump’s call to cut legal immigration by half over ten years would have a significant impact on Kentucky’s economy. Immigrants and refugees in Kentucky are more likely to start their own business than native born Kentuckians.

Trump said the U.S. has a history of taking in too many low-skilled workers from other countries. Anna Baumann, with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, a left leaning research institute, said a lot of skilled labor in Kentucky actually comes from immigration. Baumann noted one of every twenty immigrants in Kentucky is a small business owner.

Thinkstock

Kentucky taxpayers could get their first glimpse of a projected budget shortfall in 2018.

State economists are scheduled to meet Friday to adopt planning estimates for the current fiscal year plus the next four fiscal years. Kentucky finished the 2017 fiscal year on June 30 with a $138 million shortfall. Budget Director John Chilton has warned the state is likely headed for another shortfall in 2018.

J. Tyler Franklin

A revenue shortfall during Kentucky’s recently completed fiscal year means the state will have to make more money over the next year in order to meet expectations, state budget officials say.

The General Assembly crafts budgets every two years and since Kentucky had a $138.5 million revenue shortfall, the state needs to bring in about 3.8 percent more money over the next 12 months to satisfy goals.

In a report, the Office of State Budget Director said the shortfall has made the next year’s forecast “more formidable.”

Burundian Growers Find Roots In Louisville

Jul 31, 2017

On the 21 acres of grassy land that surround the barn-shaped Passionist Earth and Spirit Center, Joseph Kashamura is wearing red pants and black rubber boots. He’s watering intore, an eggplant native to Africa.

His day job is packing metals in boxes on Preston Highway. But every day when he’s done with work, he comes to the center off Newburg Road to work on an acre-sized patch of land.

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