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Incentives approved for HTNA expansion

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/09/29/incentives-approved-for-htna-expansion/

Published 8:01 am Friday, September 29, 2017, By Alfred Miller

More details emerged Thursday of the scale of Hayashi Telempu North America’s expansion in Frankfort. The Japanese maker of automotive interior parts plans to spend $40.77 million on the expansion, which includes the construction of a new office building across from its existing manufacturing site here, according to information filed with the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority.  

At its regular monthly meeting Thursday, KEDFA approved $150,000 in Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA) tax incentives for the expansion. KEIA incentives reimburse sales and use taxes for qualifying investments made in construction materials and certain machinery, according to KEDFA spokesman Jack Mazurak. Companies must show receipts for those materials and machinery to receive the authorized incentive. 

“They’ve spent the last several years trying to figure out where to expand their manufacturing base, as well as considering what they might do with their important R&D operations, and they decided to locate all of that on a single campus here in Frankfort, rather than multiple campuses throughout the country,” Lindsey Ransdell, who managed the project for KEDFA, told Chair Jean Hale before the incentive was formally approved. 

The expansion calls for moving employees from current plants in Ohio and Michigan as well as hiring nearby candidates and relocating a sales branch from Lexington, HTNA Vice President for Human Resources Steven Robbins told The State Journal in July.  

All of the 100 new jobs that come with the expansion — which HTNA announced in July — will be for higher-paying research and development staff, quality control engineers and corporate salespeople, according to Kentucky Capital Development Corp. President and CEO Terri Bradshaw. Frankfort beat out Shelbyville and a community in Indiana for HTNA’s new campus, Bradshaw told The State Journal previously.  

In addition to this latest tax incentive, the company earlier arranged with Franklin County to avoid a tax of 1 percent of net profits paid to the county for five years. “This expansion by HTNA will establish a significant footprint in Frankfort, which is great news for our workforce and our economy,” Bradshaw wrote in an email statement. “The announcement is proof that when we work with companies and bring our collective ingenuity to bear, we deliver on creating jobs for the hardworking residents of Franklin County and it is a testament to the high quality and productivity of our workforce.” 

The new campus will sit on 37 acres on Fortune Drive in Industrial Park 3 just south of Interstate 64 off Ky. 1681. HTNA’s Kentucky facility is part of the Japanese parent company’s North American arm. It supplies parts to automotive manufacturers, including the Toyota plant in Georgetown and nearby Subaru and Honda plants.


Sister Cities partners with districts, Topy America to fund Japanese teacher

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/09/26/sister-cities-partners-with-districts-topy-america-to-fund-japanese-teacher/

Published 7:29 am Tuesday, September 26, 2017, By Alfred Miller    

Local middle school students are getting ready to say “konnichiwa” to a new language teacher. Last week, the Frankfort Sister Cities Commission received a check for $10,000 from Japanese steel wheel manufacturer Topy America to jump-start a new Japanese language program in area schools. 

“We were happy to be able to participate,” said Topy General Manager for Administration Samuel Amburgey, who described the donation as a “seedling of future workforce development” and a “worthwhile first step for Topy America and the Frankfort community.”  

Teacher Katie Harrison is slated to begin offering an elective at Second Street School on Oct. 23, according to Sister Cities Commission Chairman Bill Marshall. Harrison may also bring the elective to middle schools in the Franklin County Schools district, Marshall says, but the timing of such an arrangement is still up in the air. 

Harrison, a native of Glasgow in southern Kentucky, said she’s excited to expand her students’ worldview. 

“It’s good to know the perspective from a different country,” said Harrison, who has spent time in the northern Japanese city of Akita as part of her studies at the University of Kentucky. “There are other people that are just like us, even if they speak a different language.” 

Franklin County is home to seven Japanese companies — Topy, Aska USA, Beam Suntory, Hayashi Telempu North America, IDT Tools, Mitsui Kinzoku Catalysts America and Nishida Art Specialty Composite America — that together employ nearly 900 people. 

“We have a good strong relationship between Kentucky and Japan,” said Marshall, who is hopeful that Frankfort can serve as a role model for other cities and towns around the state. 

Marshall’s goal is to set up internships at the Japanese companies for local students as well as exchange trips to Frankfort’s new sister city, Shimamoto, a town of about 30,000 located in Japan’s Osaka Prefecture. 

The first step, he said, is establishing a base level of Japanese proficiency among Frankfort-area students to make an exchange trip worth their while. Marshall expects the first Japanese students to come to Frankfort as early as next year, with the first local students traveling to Shimamoto in 2019. 

The language program is being paid for this year through private donations to the Frankfort Sister Cities Commission, whose funds are managed by the City of Frankfort. Subsequent years are expected to be funded by the Japan Foundation, a network of cultural exchange institutes that is part of Japan’s Foreign Ministry. 

“We’ve got good Japanese companies here and they want the best employees they can possibly have,” said Marshall, a Realtor whose interest in Japanese culture was sparked when he met his wife, Eri Konagaya Marshall, a native of Japan. “Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense if we were educating our own workforce?”


Jobless Rates Rise in Region

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/09/22/jobless-rates-rise-in-region/

Published 9:55 pm Friday, September 22, 2017, By Alfred Miller   

Jobless rates in the Frankfort area rose for the third consecutive month in August, compared to the same time last year, according to a State Journal analysis of data from the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training. 

The combined unemployment rate in Anderson, Franklin, Henry, Owen, Scott, Shelby and Woodford counties last month rose to 4.07 percent from 3.52 percent a year earlier. 

Woodford County’s 3.49 percent unemployment rate — up from 3.02 percent in August 2016 — remained the lowest in Kentucky. Scott County’s 3.91 percent and Shelby County’s 3.85 percent were also among the state’s lowest.  

By contrast, unemployment in eastern Kentucky counties remained the highest in the state, led by Magoffin County at 15.4 percent and Leslie County at 12.7 percent. 

The figures are not seasonally adjusted — that is, they are not recalculated to offset the effect of seasonal hiring — as they are derived from those of the Office of Employment and Training, which does not adjust its numbers due to the small sample sizes involved in its surveys. 

The comparable, unadjusted unemployment rate for the state was 5.2 percent for August 2017 and 4.5 percent for the nation, the Office of Employment and Training said in a press release. 

The Office of Employment and Training, an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, also cautions that the tallies exclude unemployed Kentuckians who have not sought employment in the past four weeks.

  

Recon Group to add 90 jobs

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/09/20/recon-group-to-add-90-jobs/

Published 6:54 am Wednesday, September 20, 2017, By Alfred Miller

Positions to be added over the next four years

The Recon Group Inc. is expanding its warehouse in Frankfort, adding 90 jobs over four years, Kentucky Capital Development Corp. President and CEO Terri Bradshaw announced at KCDC’s regular board meeting Tuesday. 

Experts in “reverse logistics” or the process of handling returns for electronic retailers, the Florida-based company already employs 130 here, with additional locations in Arkansas, South Carolina, Canada’s Ontario and China’s Shenzhen. 

The company will add 90 jobs here over the next four years, starting with 40 this fiscal year, at an average hourly wage of $16.50, including benefits. 

The Frankfort warehouse is currently located on Fortune Drive, south of Interstate 64 in Franklin County Industrial Park No. 3. 

The company purchases returned merchandise, such as portable media players, tablets, computers and televisions, inspects them for functionality and physical condition, clears existing data, “returns to defaults, repairs or refurbishes,” and repackages. 

Recon Group will invest nearly $1.4 million in the expansion, according to the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority.


LBAR announces investment in local economic development organization in Franklin County 

SEPTEMBER 19, 2017               

Continuing their long-term commitment to healthy communities for central Kentucky homeowners, the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS® (LBAR) announced today its $2,000 investment in the Kentucky Capital Development Corporation. This is part of a $165,000 contribution the association has pledged over the next five years to promote economic development.             

This initiative supports activities directly related to job creation, expansion and retention. A financial investment is available to each local economic development organization within LBAR's primary service area. 

LBAR President Ty Brown said, “This investment is a means of achieving a healthy real estate market in central Kentucky. The association works hard to be considered a true partner in regional issues and facilitator of collaboration. We can be trusted as an impartial investor when it comes to county by county issues because of our regional organizational nature.” 

As the region’s leading advocate for home ownership, Lexington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS® (LBAR) understands the value and joy of owning a home. LBAR represents more than 3,000 REALTORS® located in Anderson, Bath, Bell, Bourbon, Clark, Clay, Elliott, Fayette, Franklin, Harrison, Jackson, Jessamine, Knox, Laurel, Menifee, Montgomery, Nicholas, Powell, Rowan, Scott, Whitley, and Woodford Counties. Visit www.lbar.com or call 859-276-3503 for buying and selling resources and real estate listings. For additional information please contact Elaine Hangis, LBAR Chief Executive Officer (859-276-3503 or via e-mail, elaine@lbar.com).



Uptick in jobs, aging workforce

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/08/28/uptick-in-jobs-aging-workforce/

Published 9:19 am Monday, August 28, 2017. By Alfred Miller   

The Kentucky Capital Development Corp. helped lure 150 new jobs to the Frankfort area last year, the economic development organization says in its recently released annual report. 

KCDC estimates the jobs — the result of companies deciding to relocate to Frankfort or to expand existing locations — added about $40 million to the local economy after taking into account indirect “ripple effects,” such as the increased spending that results when workers move with their families to the area. 

Meanwhile, the median household income in Frankfort has increased to $46,818 from $42,180, the median home price has risen to $114,950 from $92,000 and the cost of living — an index in which the national average is set at 100 — dropped to 84.1 from 96.8, KCDC said in its report, citing Money Magazine’s latest “Best Places to Live” study.  

KCDC President and CEO Terri Bradshaw says her focus has been on bringing higher-paying jobs to the area as unemployment has dropped in recent years. 

“In our recruitment process, wages are a bigger focus than they have ever been before because we don’t want to stretch our workforce any further,” said Bradshaw. 

Unemployment, however, has increased in Franklin County, according to data released last week by the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training. Last month, there were 24,496 people in the labor force, with 5.14 percent unemployment. That’s up from 4.06 percent unemployment at the same time last year, when the labor force consisted of 24,701 people. 

That labor force has also been aging. 

“The data shows that the only growth in population in Franklin County over the past several years was in the 65 years and older category,” KCDC’s report says. “There was a loss in population in all the working age groups of 18-24, 25-44 and 45-64 years old.” 

To address this, Bradshaw has been encouraging companies to adopt so-called “job sharing” programs in which multiple part-time employees collaborate to fulfill the responsibilities of a single full-time employee. 

“We have a lot of folks who have retired from state government who are extremely skilled and don’t want to work full-time, but want something to do,” said Bradshaw, who thinks that “something to do” could be a job-share rather than part-time work at a retail store. 

Bradshaw says she has also been working with the Lexington chapter of SCORE (formerly the Service Corps of Retired Executives) to encourage retirees to get involved in entrepreneurship. 

This year, KCDC lists in its annual report a number of restaurants and automotive industry suppliers it hopes to bring to the area as well as a new “Hotel/Conference Center” business. 

“It is a developer who has come to us with an interest in building a hotel and meeting facility within our community,” said Bradshaw. “Obviously they’ve heard that the Civic Center is going away.” 

Bradshaw says any replacement of the current convention center would be sized according to “whatever the community can support,” but the project has not progressed much beyond an initial conversation.  


Unemployment rates rise in region   

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/08/24/unemployment-rates-rise-in-region/

Published 11:06 pm Thursday, August 24, 2017.  By State Journal Staff Reporter

Unemployment rates in the Frankfort area rose last month compared to the same time last year, according to a State Journal analysis of data from the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training. 

The combined unemployment rate in Anderson, Franklin, Henry, Owen, Scott, Shelby and Woodford counties last month rose to 4.77 percent from 3.89 percent a year earlier. 

Woodford County’s 4.27 percent unemployment rate — up from 3.48 percent in July 2016 — remained the lowest in Kentucky. Scott County’s 4.48 percent and Shelby County’s 4.59 percent were also among the state’s lowest. By contrast, unemployment in eastern Kentucky counties remained the highest in the state, led by Magoffin County at 17.6 percent and Leslie County at 12.4 percent. 

The figures are not seasonally adjusted — that is, they are not recalculated to offset the effect of seasonal hiring — as they are derived from those of the Office of Employment and Training, which does not adjust its numbers due to the small sample sizes involved in its surveys. 

The comparable, unadjusted unemployment rate for the state was 5.9 percent for July 2017 and 4.6 percent for the nation, the Office of Employment and Training said in a press release.  

The Office of Employment and Training, an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, also cautions that the tallies exclude unemployed Kentuckians who have not sought employment in the past four weeks.



Frankfort Plant Board considers all-fiber internet

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/08/16/frankfort-plant-board-considers-all-fiber-internet/

Published 1:31 am Wednesday, August 16, 2017. By Alfred Miller

A faster, fully fiber optic internet infrastructure appears to be on the horizon in Frankfort. On Tuesday, Frankfort Plant Board board members heard the results of a study exploring how best to upgrade the municipal utility’s aging telecommunications network.  

The plant board, along with the rest of the cable industry, has been suffering the effect of customers “cutting the cord” in favor of online content providers like Netflix, which “now boasts that it has more subscribers than the number of U.S. cable households,” consultants Thomas Grigg of Engineering Associates and Kim Kersey of Kersey Consulting write their report.  

“FPB has experienced a steady decline in its cable television subscribers during recent years as customers are migrating to these alternative on-line services, and FPB anticipates that this migration will continue unabated into the future,” the report reads. “The impact of this migration to online video providers is not felt just through the loss of FPB’s cable television subscription revenues, but also the growing bandwidth demand by FPB’s Internet customers.”  

To solve this, Grigg and Kersey presented a plan to roll out a brand new “fiber-to-the-home” network that eliminates the use of slower, lower capacity copper coaxial cable transmission lines by 2025. Building the new network could cost as much as $44.6 million, though that cost could be reduced by 15 to 25 percent through the use of special brackets on the utility poles from which the fiber optic cables will be hung and other cost saving techniques, the consultants said. 

While the network is being designed and constructed, the plant board would rely on its existing hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) network. Originally conceived in the late 1990s, that network has been undergoing an equipment upgrade over the past year. 

The consultants recommended going forward with the final phase of that upgrade — replacing the amplifiers and line extenders that make up the last leg of the network’s outward journey from neighborhood “nodes” to individuals homes with 1GHz-rated equipment. That upgrade would allow users to reap the full benefits of recent node replacements, according to Kersey. 

John Higginbotham, assistant general manager and superintendent of the cable-telecom division, told The State Journal he expected that equipment to cost $1.5 million, with an additional $500,000 in labor for installation. 

The upgrades to the existing HFC network essentially buy the plant board time to complete construction of the all-fiber network. 

“The equipment that you have is really at the end of life and should be replaced as soon as you can do that,” said Kersey, who cited a study by network equipment maker Cisco estimating overall internet traffic would triple by 2021.  

“Do we have till 2025 to get this done if what you’re saying about Cisco is correct?” asked board member John Cubine, who remained “bothered” by the proposed timeline, despite Kersey’s assurances that upgrades to the existing network would extend its life by five to seven years. 

“Shorter is definitely better — if we can afford it,” said Higginbotham, for whom the fiber network would represent something of a legacy. Higginbotham is retiring on Oct. 30.   

Finance Director David Denton expressed concern about finding customers to switch to the new network, reminding board members to “think about who is going to be a customer.” 

Potential customers could include businesses, Kentucky Capital Development Corporation President and CEO Terri Bradshaw reminded board members during her later presentation on what companies look for when evaluating the sites of potential factories. 

“Fiber optics is not an option anymore,” said Bradshaw. “Most companies expect it to be there when picking a site.” 

 Bradshaw advised board members to continue keeping pace with the market. 

Plant board staff will present the board with implementation options at its next regular meeting on Sept. 19. 

In other business, GRW engineer Aaron Nickerson presented his company’s plans to install a fence and landscaping around plant board buildings in the Tanglewood neighborhood. The Tanglewood Neighborhood Association plans to provide additional feedback on the landscaping designs after it meets Wednesday.       



Expanded City Grant Program begins accepting applications September 1st.   

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/08/10/expanded-city-grant-program-begins-accepting-applications-sept-1/

Published 12:48 am Thursday, August 10, 2017. By Rosalind Essig  

Applications are now available for an expanded grant program that provides funding for the renovation of properties in certain historic areas of the city.  

After three rounds of the Historic Preservation Grant, which was funded by the city to the tune of $100,000, the program was updated in June. Now called the Neighborhood Reinvestment Grant, the city has set aside $300,000 and opened the program to more neighborhoods. Originally restricted to the historic downtown and South Frankfort areas, the program now includes the Bellepoint and Buttimer Hill area and the Holmes Street area. 

Community Relations and Grants Manager Rebecca Hall said that residents in downtown and South Frankfort are already familiar with the program, so they’re getting the word out to residents in the added neighborhoods. 

“I’m hopeful that we have a lot of applicants from the new areas,” she said. “… It’s these new areas that we’re very interested in and hopeful that we get a lot of interest from those areas.” 

An informational meeting held Aug. 3 was attended by about 30 property owners from the neighborhoods covered by the grant. Those neighborhoods are home to more than 2,000 lots. 

“They had a lot of good questions; I felt like it went pretty well,” Hall said. 

The grant money will be divided so that $75,000 of the funding will be awarded for projects in each neighborhood. 

The city will begin accepting applications Sept. 1 and the funding will be awarded to eligible projects on a “first-come, first-funded basis.” 

Incomplete applications will not be considered and applicants are responsible for ensuring they have submitted everything; city staff will not contact applicants to get missing information during the review process. 

Eligible projects receive a 40 percent match through the program. The minimum eligible project size is $5,000 of exterior work, or a $2,000 match. For projects in which the exterior work is $20,000 or greater, the grant match is capped at $8,000. 

Projects must be completed in 12 months and will be reimbursed with the grant funding after the completion of the project. 

Different types of exterior restoration work are eligible for funding, as well as foundation repair and retaining walls, exterior painting, and roof repair.

Properties that were awarded a historic preservation grant the previous year or that are in litigation, have liens or owe delinquent taxes are not eligible for the grant. 

Interested property owners can find applications at Frankfort City Hall or at http://www.frankfort.ky.gov/.  

Hall or Planning Director Gary Muller can be contacted with questions at 502-875-8500.


Hayashi Telempu North America (HTNA) will hire 100, expand

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/07/27/hayashi-telempu-north-america-htna-will-hire-100-expand/

Published 9:06 am Thursday, July 27, 2017. By Austin Horn

Hayashi Telempu North America (HTNA). a manufacturer of automotive interior parts in southeast Franklin County, announced Tuesday it will add 100 jobs along with plans to expand its operating facility.

The expansion will add 100 more jobs to around 100 HTNA brought when the company came to Franklin County in 2013 and 50 positions that have been added since then. It will sit on 37 acres on Fortune Drive in Industrial Park 3 just south of Interstate 64 off of Ky. 1681, according to Terri Bradshaw, president of the Kentucky Capital Development Corp.

The Kentucky facility is part of the Japanese parent company’s North American arm. It supplies parts to automotive manufacturers like the Toyota plant in Georgetown as well as nearby Subaru and Honda plants.

A growing customer base and the consolidation of some other North American operations apparently contributed to the move, but a company representative said it was also further confirmation of the site’s central location to automotive plants.

While already signed, the deal was also sweetened for HTNA when the Franklin County Fiscal Court voted to cede the part of Fortune Drive that ran between HTNA’s properties. According to Bradshaw, the company plans to use the road space to connect its current building with the future one, creating a campus-like environment.

“Companies will tell you that the ability to easily expand and get the building running is bigger than the financial incentive,” Bradshaw said. “That’s why the county voted to give that road, Founder’s Drive, to the company. They want to be able to put a fence around the entire campus for security purposes.”

The latest addition came to pass despite HTNA’s consideration of Shelbyville and a community in Indiana, according to Bradshaw. And she added that the company also struck a deal to receive the 1 percent county payroll tax on its employees for its first five years in the county.

“The thought was that if we had not given them the deal, we would make zero dollars,” Bradshaw said.

But even before business-friendly policies came to pass, the setting for HTNA in Frankfort was an ideal one, according to both Bradshaw and Steven Robbins, HTNA vice president for human resources.

“Four years ago we selected that site because it’s centrally located to our customer base, and the employees that we’ve had there have been good,” Robbins said.

The expansion of personnel will include bringing employees from current plants in Ohio and Michigan as well as hiring nearby candidates and relocating a sales branch from Lexington, according to Robbins.

The growth might come as little surprise given the company’s track record. It originally brought in 100 jobs to Frankfort and has since expanded to 150. And a crucial recent customer addition for HTNA came from 2017 Lexus cars, according to Bradshaw.

Bradshaw said the decision to expand reflects Franklin County’s “leadership position in automotive manufacturing.”



Jobless rate ticks upward

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/07/28/jobless-rate-ticks-upward/

 

Published 9:47 am Friday, July 28, 2017. By Alfred Miller  

Unemployment rates in the Frankfort area rose last month compared to the same time last year, according to a State Journal analysis of data from the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training. 

The combined unemployment rate in Anderson, Franklin, Henry, Owen, Scott, Shelby and Woodford counties last month rose to 4.50 percent from 3.97 percent a year earlier, the analysis revealed. 

Woodford County’s 3.85 percent unemployment rate — up from 3.46 percent in June 2016 — remained the lowest in Kentucky, followed closely by Shelby County’s 4.24 percent and Scott County’s 4.52 percent. By contrast, counties in eastern Kentucky had the highest unemployment rate, led by Magoffin County at 18.0 percent and Leslie County at 12.2 percent. 

The figures are not seasonally adjusted — that is, they are not recalculated to offset the effect of seasonal hiring — as they are derived from those of the Office of Employment and Training, which does not adjust its numbers due to the small sample sizes involved in its surveys. 

The comparable, unadjusted unemployment rate for the state was 5.7 percent for June 2017 and 4.5 percent for the nation, the Office of Employment and Training said in a press release. 

The Office of Employment and Training, an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, also cautions that the tallies exclude unemployed Kentuckians who have not sought employment in the past four weeks.



KCDC signs off on internet agreement with schools 

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/05/18/kcdc-signs-off-on-internet-agreement-with-schools/ 

Published 9:17 am Thursday, May 18, 2017. By Alfred Miller 

Frankfort Independent Schools will soon be wiring up in earnest. On Tuesday, Kentucky Capital Development Corporation approved a deal that funnels city money through the economic development organization to fund $80,000 in technology upgrades at the district’s schools, $60,000 in internet installations for district students who are currently without access at home and $60,000 in marketing and branding for Frankfort and city institutions, including the school district. 

Months in the making, the deal hit a speedbump most recently when KCDC requested changes to the agreement it was to sign, along with the city of Frankfort, to reinforce KCDC’s role as a passthrough entity and define what is to be done with leftover funds.  

The updated agreement, signed Tuesday, now says KCDC is not responsible for confirming the completion or quality of the upgrades at district schools, for auditing the district’s invoices or for supervising the upgrades and device installations. The agreement defines the “other documentation reflecting the completion of this work” cited in a November version of the agreement as consisting of a letter from Frankfort Independent stating that the wireless and technology upgrades have been completed. 

Leftover funds will be returned to the city of Frankfort within 30 days of the termination of the agreement. The updated document also stipulates that a communication, marketing and branding program must be carried to completion before KCDC will pay out the $60,000 in those funds — an earlier version only listed city manager approval as a prerequisite — and explicitly names the Frankfort Plant Board as the company performing the technology upgrades at the district’s schools.  

“This is a great program and it will serve those students well,” said KCDC President and CEO Terri Bradshaw. “I hate that it took us so long, but I’m glad that we got it right.”

 “My board wanted to be absolutely certain that we were spending taxpayer money appropriately and that this is an economic development project.” 

Technology upgrades at the district’s schools are set to be completed by Aug. 1, Frankfort Independent Schools Superintendent Houston Barber told The State Journal. Installations at students’ homes won’t be completed until December at the earliest. 

“This pilot project is going to help grow the workforce and close the digital divide,” Barber said. The city, KCDC and Frankfort Independent will re-evaluate the project at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. 

Barber is banking on the technology funds and reduced tuition fees for out-of-district students to increase the number of students next year in the Frankfort Independent system to 1,000 from approximately 820 this year. Tuition for out-of-district students will be $175 next year, down from $1,000 this year. The district currently has about 150 out-of-district students, though only about 100 pay tuition as children of staff members attend for free. 

“We’re getting a lot of excitement with the opportunities we’re providing,” said Barber. “There are a lot of folks wanting to be part of this school system and the quality of its product.”



Kentucky Capital Development Corporation mulls loan deal for West Sixth

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/05/17/kentucky-capital-development-corp-mulls-loan-deal-for-west-sixth/

Published 9:18 am Wednesday, May 17, 2017. By Alfred Miller  

West Sixth Brewing may soon raise its glass to the Kentucky Capital Development Corp. (KCDC). During its monthly board meeting on Tuesday, the economic development organization laid the groundwork to offer a low-interest-rate loan to the Lexington-based brewery, which is planning to grow the ingredients for many of its beers just eight minutes from downtown Frankfort on a 120-acre farm off Shadrick Ferry Road.  

West Sixth estimates it would cost $75,975 to extend water lines from the Peaks Mill Water District in accordance with fire safety regulations, Franklin County Planning, Zoning, & Building Code Enforcement Director Robert Hewitt told KCDC board members. The brewery is also exploring the possibility of using an existing pond on the farm for the same fire protection purpose. 

Dubbed West Sixth Farm, the venture is one that the brewery is committed to and is expected to draw large numbers of people to the area, Hewitt assured KCDC board members. He asked them to consider offering the company a low-interest-rate loan for $76,000 to assist in the water line extension. 

The loan would come from KCDC’s County Revolving Loan account, which had an ending cash balance last month of $584,881.72 and is earning 0.15 percent interest from Whitaker Bank. 

“We have to be careful and recognize the risk as well as the benefits,” President and CEO Terri Bradshaw cautioned board members, after striking an optimistic note about the West Sixth Farm’s potential benefits as a “Woodstocky” events venue and tourist attraction. 

The board members present — Dave Weller, Rex Fowler, Miriam Fordham and Houston Barber — voted unanimously to give Bradshaw the right to negotiate the terms of a loan of up to $76,000. 

In other business, the KCDC board heard local attorney John Gray’s suggestion that KCDC spearhead the creation of a strategic plan for development in downtown Frankfort. He pointed to Covington’s recent 2017 Great American Main Street Award from the National Main Street Center. Covington, he said, never wavered from its strategic plan for downtown development.

Bradshaw urged Gray to await the results of a June 27 joint board meeting organized by the Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce to start developing three-, five- and 10-year plans for the area. The meeting will bring together city and county governments, the chamber, KCDC, the Frankfort Tourist Commission, Downtown Frankfort Inc., local school districts, Kentucky State University, the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, WalkBike Frankfort, Envision Frankfort and the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, according to Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carmen Inman.  



April unemployment rates rise slightly in Frankfort area 

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/05/27/april-unemployment-rates-rise-slightly-in-frankfort-area/ 

Published 7:26 pm Saturday, May 27, 2017. By Alfred Miller

Unemployment rates in the Frankfort area rose slightly last month compared to the same time last year, according to a State Journal analysis of data from the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training. 

The combined unemployment rate in Anderson, Franklin, Henry, Owen, Scott, Shelby and Woodford counties last month rose to 3.7 percent from 3.5 percent a year earlier, the analysis revealed. Unemployment rates in all seven counties were up compared to the year before, though Woodford County’s 3.1 percent — up slightly from 2.9 percent in April 2016 — was the lowest in Kentucky.  

The Office of Employment and Training, an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, cautions that the tallies exclude unemployed Kentuckians who have not sought employment in the past four weeks.



Local employers struggle to fill middle-skill jobs, even as Kentuckians return to workforce 

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/05/06/local-employers-struggle-to-fill-middle-skill-jobs-even-as-kentuckians-return-to-workforce/


Published 6:23 pm Saturday, May 6, 2017. By Alfred Miller

Kentuckians are getting back to work. While still at historic lows, the commonwealth’s labor force participation rate — eighth lowest in the nation — has jumped in recent months to 59.5 percent in March from 56.9 percent in July 2015, according to a State Journal analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The movement appears to be driven by Kentuckians rejoining the labor force, as employment rates have risen while population growth has held steady in that time.  


“I’m delighted to see that trend, but expect it to increase more,” Gov. Matt Bevin told The State Journal. “In Kentucky, it’s my expectation that able-bodied, working-age people with no dependents go to work every day.”  


In Franklin County, employers say they are still struggling to find workers, especially for middle-skill jobs in manufacturing. Local employers are currently advertising 928 available jobs online, according to a Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet website.  


“How we got here is a combination of several things,” said John Phillips, director of human resources at plastic automotive parts maker Montaplast. “The recession took a lot of people out of the trades — they went into something else — a lot of people have retired, and apprenticeships are not in great numbers in the state of Kentucky. We have an undertrained, underdeveloped workforce and companies are left to come up with solutions to the problem.”  


Franklin County’s largest private employer, Montaplast struggles to find toolmakers, industrial maintenance technicians and other middle-skill workers. “Right now it is the skilled-trades jobs that are really, really hard to fill,” said Phillips.  


Topy America, Franklin County’s third largest private employer, has similar struggles. Part of the problem is that Topy, a manufacturer of steel wheels for passenger cars and light trucks, must compete for engineers and advanced manufacturing technicians with some of the very automakers in the region that it supplies. In general, however, simply convincing younger generations to pursue a career in manufacturing has proved difficult. 


“One of the reasons we have a such a large skills gap is because my generation — the parents of kids who are going out and getting jobs now — was raised to believe that manufacturing was hard, dirty, strenuous, back-breaking work,” said Terri Bradshaw, president of the Kentucky Capital Development Corp. “You didn’t want to do it if you were smart enough to do anything else. That’s the mindset of our generation, and it’s just not true.” 


In recent years, Topy has tried to push manufacturing as a viable career path through the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (KY FAME), a partnership of manufacturers trying to alleviate the worker shortage.  


“I think the industrial community has to take some responsibility for not spending enough time marketing itself to potential incoming associates,” said Topy General Manager Sam Amburgey, referring to entry-level workers at his company. “We got caught up so much in trying to be competitive and profitable, we haven’t made time to go into the school system and market ourselves.” 


Amburgey points to the technical knowledge required of workers performing tool changes and maintenance as examples of the high standards manufacturers have of their workers.


The efforts of these local manufacturers to raise their profile reflect a national trend. Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced his plan to start a $1 billion fund to promote advanced manufacturing in the U.S.  


But it’s not just manufacturers that are struggling to fill middle-skill jobs here. Franklin County’s second largest private employer, Frankfort Regional Medical Center, currently has vacancies for multiple registered nurse and nurse technician positions. 


“It’s challenging right now,” said hospital CEO Chip Peal in an interview last month. “There’s clearly a nursing shortage if you go to the more rural areas. That’s national.” 


Likewise, the Frankfort Plant Board has had a water treatment plant operator vacancy for the past year. Rather than continue searching just for operators already certified to work in its large class IV facility, the plant board voted in March to consider training a new, less experienced operator to earn his or her class IV license on the job.  


“I think this would be a really great career track for those who don’t want to go to college but have an aptitude for mechanics and computers or are interested in the environment,” said Julie Roney, superintendent of the plant board’s water treatment plant. “We don’t promote the profession enough. I don’t think people understand what it takes. You’re not over here just pushing a button. If you saw the Kentucky River last week, we took that muddy water and turned it into drinking water. That takes expertise.” 


Melissa Aguilar, executive director of the Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board, struck an optimistic note about the efforts employers have made to alleviate the problem. “Industry is really at the table more so now than a year ago,” said Aguilar. 


“Industry is guiding education on what’s needed.”  


Last year, the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development began doling out grants to schools that partner with private employers and others as part of a $100 million Kentucky Work Ready Skills Initiative. On Wednesday, Frankfort Independent Schools will undergo a second-round interview for a grant proposal involving a community makerspace in Frankfort. The Kentucky Labor Cabinet earlier this month began exploring the possibility of establishing apprenticeship programs for IT and telecommunication in western Kentucky. 


Aguilar also points to collaborations between employers and community colleges. “That’s one area we’ve come a long way with,” said Aguilar. “The community colleges are more flexible. If we find a group of employers, we can create a customized degree.” 


Indeed, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) recently sponsored a survey to identify skill shortages, which Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce President Carmen Inman says she plans to incorporate into her workforce development plans. A “Bridging the Gap” luncheon in Lexington is scheduled for May 22 and the chamber’s education committee meets May 26. “Our number one priority this year is education,” she said.



Companies invested $31 million in Frankfort last year to tie the region for 4th in ranking of Kentucky’s small cities

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/03/09/companies-invested-31-million-in-frankfort-last-year-to-tie-the-region-for-4th-in-ranking-of-kentuckys-small-cities/

Published 12:30 am Thursday, March 9, 2017.  By Alfred Miller  

Four companies invested a total of $31 million and added 136 new jobs in Franklin County last year, enough for Frankfort to tie for 32nd in a recent ranking by Site Selection Magazine of the nation’s small cities or “micropolitan” areas. Micropolitans have core urban areas with populations between 10,000 and 50,000 surrounded by suburbs that depend on them, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Among micropolitan areas in Kentucky, Frankfort tied for fourth with Richmond-Berea, behind Bardstown, Danville and Mayfield. The ranking of micropolitan areas also took into account the floorspace that companies added.

Those companies — Hayashi Telmpu, Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace and Nishida Art Specialty Composite — were unsurprisingly in the bourbon and automotive industries, according to Terri Bradshaw, president of the Kentucky Capital Development Corporation, which works to bring businesses to the Frankfort area.

“People don’t realize all the benefits bourbon provides to this community,” said Bradshaw, pointing to the local barrel tax distilleries pay. While Buffalo Trace and Jim Beam added few jobs to the area last year, its investment in new warehouse space will mean more in barrel tax revenues for the county, which Bradshaw says support education, healthcare and public safety here. Bradshaw estimates that those revenues doubled from 2015 to 2016 and will double again this year.

Frankfort is also strategically located for the automotive industry, with a Ford plant in Louisville, a Toyota plant in Georgetown and a Honda plant in Southern Indiana all requiring their suppliers to be nearby as the automakers look to keep their own inventories lean.

Frankfort, which held the top spot for micropolitan areas in Kentucky last year, will likely maintain its current position next year, according to Bradshaw. “I would expect bourbon and automobile parts manufacturing to be our top job creators,” she said. “Toyota and Ford continue to grow their second and third tier companies and I don’t foresee that people will stop drinking bourbon.”

The biggest challenge Frankfort faces is maintaining its workforce, which has migrated elsewhere in the face of the recession. Workforce also happens to be the factor companies weigh most heavily when choosing sites for investment, according to Bradshaw. “When I started in this business, the three site selection criteria for every company in every community were location, location and location,” she said. “Workforce is now at the top.”

Frankfort listed in Site Selection Magazine - tied for #32 in the country and #3 in the Commonwealth!

Below is a link to the recently released Site Selection Magazine choice for 2016 Top Micropolitans in economic development.  Frankfort made the list again this year, as a tie for #32 in the country and #3 in the Commonwealth.  Congratulations to you all, and thank you so much for all you do in making this happen. 

http://siteselection.com/issues/2017/mar/top-micropolitans-of-2016.cfm?utm_source=Dispatch&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Editorial


Digital edition of Site Selection Magazine -      http://siteselection.com/digitalEdition/


 

Icons of Whisky America 2017

 http://iconsofwhisky.com/2017/america/

Beam Suntory and Buffalo Trace win Icons of Whisky Awards

As whisky evolves, so too do our awards. With the emergence of stunning whiskies from less well-known whisky producing nations, we are expanding our Icons of Whisky awards by adding new regional heats. This year saw the addition of India as a fourth region, and we are excited to announce the inclusion of Australia and Ireland for 2018.

With the India, Rest of World and Scotland results now announced, we conclude this year’s regional heats with the winners of the America stage of the awards. As always, it is then down to our editorial panel to review the shortlist of regional winners and decide on which company or individual will take the overall Global title in each of the Icons categories; this is no easy task given the wealth of talent on the world whisky stage. Keep an eye out for the results which will be announced on Thursday 30 March 2017.

The Icons of Whisky awards are a celebration of the years of hard work that go into every bottle. From the distillers themselves, still makers and coopers, to warehouse staff and visitor center managers – a great deal of craftsmanship, skill and knowledge are imparted at each stage of the process. This is our chance to thank the individuals and producers for their dedication to each innovative release, unique visitor experience or expert retail service that they work tirelessly to deliver.

We are delighted to present to you the finest companies and people in the American whisky industry as we proudly present the 2017 winners.

Below are the Franklin County award winners:

American Whisky Brand Ambassador of the year

Adam Harris - Beam Suntory

 

Adam Harris took his first job with Beam Suntory in 2006 and since then he's been sharing stories and promoting Beam Suntory's American whisky portfolio in the US as well as around the globe. In 2010, he was named a Kentucky Colonel by the governor of the commonwealth in recognition of his contributions. Known for his enthusiasm and approachable style, Adam spends time throughout the year working with the master distillers and teams at both Jim Beam and Maker's Mark to learn all aspects of the Bourbon craft as well as tasting and helping select new products. He enjoys talking about those special experiences with old and new friends alike.

Distiller of the year

Beam Suntory


Beam Suntory crafts some of the world's best-loved and most iconic brands thanks to centuries of product development, innovation and experience in building globally recognized whiskies and spirits. Arguably the most famous of all is the company's flagship brand, Jim Beam, now overseen by seventh generation Beam master distiller Fred Noe. Last year saw the release of Jim Beam Double Oak and a global packaging redesign for the entire portfolio. Beam Suntory's list of brands extends to the distinctive Maker's Mark, handcrafted Knob Creek and Basil Hayden's Bourbon, to name a few.

 

Visitor Attraction Manager of the year

Kimberley Bennett - Beam Suntory

Kimberley Bennett took over the reins of Jim Beam Bourbon's tourism experience in 2012 and quickly realized that Jim Beam needed to stand out as a world-class visitor experience to reflect this world-renowned brand. When Kimberley helped design the attraction at the Jim Beam American Stillhouse in Clermont, she drew on her years of event management experience. Under her guidance, visits to the American Stillhouse, and the Urban Stillhouse in Louisville grew nearly 100 percent. Last year more than 200,000 people visited the two sites, a number that is expected to grow. What's more, the Jim Beam American Stillhouse has become one of the most visited distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Kimberley strategically develops and leads all these attractions and is the driving force for future customer experiences.

 

Visitor Attraction of the year

Buffalo Trace Distillery

No trip to Kentucky would be complete without a visit to this National Historic Landmark which last year welcomed its millionth visitor. Buffalo Trace's visitor center entertained a record number of visitors in 2016 with over 170,000 people coming through the doors, an increase of 17 per cent from the previous year. After expanding the attraction last year, Buffalo Trace is already planning for additional developments including even more complimentary tours and tastings. Add that to the recent discovery of Buffalo Trace's ‘Bourbon Pompeii', the early foundation and fermenting vats dating back to 1873, which are being preserved for visitors to see.



Chamber of Commerce unveils new brand for city

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/02/18/chamber-of-commerce-unveils-new-brand-for-city/ 

Published 5:10 pm Saturday, February 18, 2017


Distill Kentucky to its essence and you get Frankfort. So says the Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce, which on Friday unveiled a new logo and motto for the city: “Frankfort: Kentucky Distilled” beneath a multicolored map of Kentucky artfully concealing the letters “K-Y.”

The logo and motto are the work of a Nashville, Tenn.-based marketing consultancy named North Star, which specializes in community branding. The company previously rolled out a similar effort for Columbus, Ind., and has also done work for Georgetown, Ky., Sacramento, Calif., and Providence, R.I., according to Chamber branding committee chair Mike Feldman, a senior vice president at Farmers Bank.

North Star consultants visited Frankfort to hold “stakeholder focus groups, stakeholder one-on-one interviews, undercover interviews, mystery shopping and local community one-on-one perception interviews,” according to a North Star slideshow presentation dated Jan. 18 that was reviewed by The State Journal. Consultants also collected online surveys from 112 community and business leaders, 185 Frankfort residents and 201 residents of Louisville, Cincinnati and Lexington.

The surveys showed that while Frankfort residents value the city’s history, downtown scene, affordability and strong community, outsiders have trouble seeing past Frankfort’s role as Kentucky’s capital.

North Star concluded that Frankfort should, therefore, try to dissociate itself from state politics. “Often what makes you unique also presents as a challenge,” North Star wrote. “Being Kentucky’s capital carries with it a strong reputation that is not always positive. People blame government for many things they don’t like.”

In proposed new city signage, North Star replaces the Capitol building logo with a colorful new one that aims to evoke Frankfort’s natural beauty. “Blue and green represent the Kentucky River and the greens in the rolling hills,” North Star wrote. “Oranges and reds speak to the leaves in fall, the warmth of Kentucky bourbon and the fiery nature of Frankfort’s spirited citizens. Yellow and orange provide pops of color for energy, youthfulness, progress and optimism.”

For its work, North Star has so far received $83,000, raised from various local sponsors. The project is three years in the making, with representatives from the city, the county, Kentucky Capital Development Corp., Downtown Frankfort Inc. and others first coming together to discuss a branding initiative in 2014.

Afterward, a committee led by the Chamber of Commerce studied branding initiatives that other cities had undertaken. Feldman was skeptical at first, he told diners who gathered Friday at the Capital Plaza Hotel for the brand’s unveiling during the chamber’s annual meeting and dinner, but he soon realized that the city of Frankfort is similar to a business and wondered why it hadn’t organized itself under a cohesive brand sooner. To his knowledge, the city has never previously sought to brand itself formally, Feldman told the State Journal.

“Before, all kinds of people were trying to achieve the same objective, but all were doing it separately — trying to do it on their own,” said CapCity Communications owner Kristin Cantrell, who was in charge of the new brand’s creative aspects. Only by pooling their efforts and resources were Frankfort’s business leaders able to move forward, Cantrell said.

The committee evaluated 15 different marketing consultants before settling on North Star, which was the lowest bidder and also pitched itself as an expert on branding for communities.

Mayor Bill May, who attended the brand launch, is willing to give the new logo a shot.

“I think of Frankfort’s identity as the capital city, but we’re more than that,” he told the State Journal. “If this can show the rest of the world that this is a fun place to be and work, then I’m all for it.”

 

Kentucky Bourbon Boom Adds $1 Billion to State Economy and 2,000 Jobs in Last Two Years 

http://kybourbontrail.com/kentucky-bourbon-boom-adds-1-billion-state-economy-2000-jobs-last-two-years/

For Immediate Release – February 7, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky’s skyrocketing Bourbon industry shows no signs of slowing down, as the signature spirit increased its economic output by $1 billion in the last two years alone and added another 2,000 distillery-related jobs to its workforce, according to a new study released today.

Kentucky Bourbon now pours $8.5 billion each year into the state’s economy, generates as many as 17,500 good-paying jobs with an annual payroll topping $800 million, provides $825 million in tax revenue, and is in the middle of a $1.2 billion building boom.

Gov. Matt Bevin unveiled the findings at a press conference today in Frankfort along with top state and business leaders. The biennial study was conducted by the University of Louisville’s Urban Studies Institute in conjunction with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.

“The powerful growth of Kentucky’s Bourbon industry is a testament to our proud history of innovation, engineering and manufacturing,” Gov. Bevin said. “It is a genuine, home grown, only-in-Kentucky success story.

“As we continue cutting bureaucratic red tape across the Commonwealth, we will pave the way for even more economic opportunity and job growth in the Bourbon industry, as well as every other industry across the Bluegrass state.”

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, agreed and applauded the industry’s economic expansion and large spin-off impact, saying, “Kentucky Bourbon is proof that our pro-business tax agenda works.

“By virtually eliminating the barrel tax, we paved the way for more than one billion dollars in new distillery investments and created jobs for thousands of Kentuckians,” he said. “That growth is exactly what an authentic signature industry can do for Kentucky.”

House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said the study just scratches the surface of Bourbon’s growing impact. Many distilleries are still working to implement tourism reforms under Senate Bill 11, which passed the House last year by historic margins.

“There were more than one million visits to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour experiences last year, elevating the Kentucky tourism experience to levels never seen before,” he said.

“The more we do as a legislature to responsibly regulate this industry in this global economy, will only serve to fuel this growth in good-paying jobs and investment.”

KDA President Eric Gregory said, “This report proves that Kentucky Bourbon is the new fuel for the state’s economy. Jobs, investment and revenue are at all-time highs and paying tremendous dividends to every corner of the state.”

Major highlights include:

  • Distilling contributes $8.5 billion to Kentucky's economy, up to $3 billions since 2008, and $1 billion in the last two years alone.  This includes direct, indirect (spin off) and induced impacts;

  • As many as 17,500 people owe their paychecks to the spirits industry; either directly, or because their employers are part of the industry supply chain, or due to the household spending of those people. This is up 2,000 jobs from 2014;

  • Payroll for those workers increased to more than $800 million, from $707 million in 2014;

  • New craft distilleries employ 200 people with salaries totaling more than $5.5 million;

  • Average salary for distillery employees is $95,089;

  • Distilleries are in the middle of a $1.2 billion building boom driven by the virtual repeal of the ad valorem barrel tax and new tourism reform measures;

  • Use of locally grown corn has increased by 65 percent in the last two years, aiding Kentucky’s farm families;

  • Distilling has the second highest job multiplier in the state when it comes to total number of jobs and spin-off factor, behind only light truck and utility vehicle manufacturing;

  • More than $190 million in tax revenue for local and state governments is generated by spirits production and consumption, distillers pay another $625 million in federal excise taxes;

  • At 34.4 cents per dollar of output, Kentucky taxes spirits higher than all other 536 industries in the state. Kentucky’s spirits tax rate is fifth highest in the country among open market states;

  • The number of distilleries has grown to 52 – the most distilleries in Kentucky since the repeal of Prohibition;

  • Bourbon barrel inventory, now at 6.7 million, has reached its highest level since 1974;

  • If the industry continues to grow at this rate, economic output will exceed $10 billion by 2020, with employment more than 20,000, payroll over $1 billion and state tax revenue $200 million.

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said he was particularly pleased with the increased usage of Kentucky corn, which amounts to 15 to 20 million bushels. “We have been working with the KDA and our distilleries to source more local corn, so it’s good to see that our efforts are paying off.

“Agriculture has been at the heart of Kentucky Bourbon for centuries, since the first pioneer distillers started transforming their excess corn to spirits. Now it’s a global partnership as our distillers thrive, as this study shows.

“We’re thrilled that as bourbon’s global presence grows, so do opportunities for Kentucky’s farmers.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said, “We’ve seen first-hand how Bourbonism can boost economic development and revolutionize tourism. The combination of Louisville’s unique distillery attractions and growing restaurant scene is drawing national and international attention – and visitors.”

David Adkisson, President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, said, “The outlook is bright for Bourbon – and will be brighter as we continue to improve the business environment of Kentucky. There’s no doubt that Kentucky Bourbon is enjoying a historic renaissance.”

But he noted Kentucky’s rank in the number of distilleries and overall workers has slipped nationwide. “Other states are catching up. We must continue to be proactive by cutting outdated regulations, improving our tax code and encouraging businesses to grow and create more jobs.”


 

 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - 


http://www.wkyt.com/content/news/Raise-your-glass-to-Kentucky-bourbons-rising-economic-kick-413121073.html

 

The economic potency of bourbon is getting stronger with age, increasing its impact on Kentucky by $1 billion in the past two years as demand for American whiskeys continues to grow.

The Distilled Spirits Council said Tuesday in New York that combined U.S. revenues for bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey shot up 7.7 percent to $3.1 billion in 2016.

It says export volumes rose 10 percent, but revenues fell short of $1 billion for the first time in recent years as the strong dollar led more consumers to choose less expensive whiskeys.

A new study shows Kentucky's distilling sector now contributes $8.5 billion annually to the state's economy, up $3 billion since 2008 and a $1 billion increase in the past two years.





Many jobs to be had throughout Franklin County

http://www.state-journal.com/2017/01/28/many-jobs-to-be-had-throughout-franklin-county/

                   

By Terri BradshawKentucky Capital Development Corporation,

We have come full circle since 2008 when Kentucky’s unemployment rate was nearly 11 percent. As of January 2, 2017, the unemployment rate in Franklin County is 3.2 percent, which is 1.45 percent lower than the state rate and 2 percent lower than the national rate. And there are currently 1,061 jobs advertised online in Franklin County.

For example, there is a general manager position paying $40,000-$48,000; a web designer position paying $45,000-$65,000;  40 nursing and other healthcare positions; part-time and full-time careers; inside and outside jobs; golf club technicians to surgical technologists; event specialists to machine specialists; and more. If you know someone looking for a job, Frankfort is the place to be.

According to KYLMI.KY.GOV, a web service of the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training, the average annual percentage of growth for all industries in Kentucky is 1.10 percent. Assuming Frankfort and Franklin County meet this average, the county and city would have about 350 new jobs available annually.

However, that number does not include replacement jobs. Replacement jobs are ones made available when workers change occupations, retire or leave the labor force. When you add replacement job projections with job openings from occupational growth, you get a more complete picture of the opportunities jobseekers will have in the coming years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics replacement job needs are projected to be two times as those needed from growth. This means two out of every three job openings are expected to be replacement jobs and Franklin County, if experiencing average growth, is projected to fill 1,050 jobs annually.

However, Frankfort is not “average” at growing jobs. In 2015 Site Selection magazine, named Frankfort the #1 Micropolitan in Kentucky and #7 in the nation for new and expanding businesses. Every job created for this accomplishment was generated by a business already in our community. Existing businesses are primed to grow, but are in a “war for talent” to fill positions caused by this growth.

One of the explanations for the workforce reduction is the continued effects of the recession of the mid-2000s. The US Commerce Department says there was a 67 percent decrease in immigration from 2006-2013, largely due to a reduction in new construction projects. But now the housing market is improving and the number of construction professionals has decreased. The Associated General Contractors of America did a national survey that said, in Kentucky, 74 percent of contractors have a hard time finding workers.

Another issue hampering our workforce is the drug epidemic that has spiked over the last half decade. The Center of Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ) Report says that nearly 10 percent of full-time workers in the United States have had a substance abuse problem within the past year.

Probably the most glaring issue hindering our local workforce is a lack of a work-ready population. The Kentucky State Data Center recently reported that the population of Frankfort has grown less than 1 percent over the past 15 years. We are currently producing a workforce without the technical, math and science skills needed to operate machinery or perform technical work. Unfortunately, many employees are not disciplined enough to arrive to work on time, nor perform reading, writing or problem solving issues. In addition, we have a massive wave of baby boomers leaving the workforce.

While these problems are common throughout the region, the leadership in Franklin County is being pro-active in recognizing the future need for a trained workforce. Numerous projects to provide solutions have been established, along with partnerships between educators, local governments and employers. Programs that provide training, career counseling, mentoring and internships are in place to ensure individuals have the skills and tools needed to obtain and sustain employment. There is a renewed focus on giving students technical skills, as part of their public high school curriculum, and a major emphasis on STEM programs at our local schools and the Franklin County Career and Technical Center.

Be on the lookout for more information on these programs. In the meantime, if you, or someone you know, are looking for a job, Frankfort is the place to be.


Downtown Frankfort's "ArtWalk"

Click on the link for the video  https://vimeo.com/199393134 

Joanna Hay, videographer
Anna Barnard, editor

Our KECU downtown ArtWalks feature amazing original art from local / regional artists and artisans. Over 25 venues participate and mediums include painting, watercolor, woodwork, pottery, fiber arts, calligraphy, photography, glasswork, metalwork, and more. Come enjoy a lovely, creative experience in Downtown Frankfort, meet and mingle with our talented artists, and enjoy a nice meal or drink at one of our downtown restaurants!  The next ArtWalk is Feb. 10th!

 

Kentucky Capital Development Corporation kicks off letter-writing campaign

Published 11:11 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Kentucky Capital Development Corp. (KCDC) has kicked off a letter-writing campaign, advocating for demolition of the Capital Plaza Office Tower and other actions by the governor and legislature that would have a positive economic impact on Frankfort and Franklin County.

The letter seeks funding for the demolition of the Capital Plaza Office Tower, West Level and East Level parking garages, the elevated plaza deck and planter areas, offices and commercial space along Wilkinson Boulevard and Mero Street. The letter also expresses support for state government to assist in the improvement of the Frankfort Convention Center, the opening of the Kentucky River Lock 5 in Anderson County and selling unused state property in Frankfort and Franklin County to private parties so that the funds from property taxes can go back into the community.

Kentucky Capital Development Corporation letter

      Letter to Governor - template.docx 

Executive Director Terri Bradshaw said Tuesday that the Frankfort City Commission, Franklin County Fiscal Court, Frankfort/Franklin County Tourist and Convention Commission and KCDC have all sent their letters to state officials and that the Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Frankfort Inc. plan to approve letters soon.

Bradshaw said KCDC wanted some of the letters to be sent before city and county officials’ next meeting with the state on Jan. 17 so that those officials begin to see “where we’re coming from.” Letters are being sent to Gov. Matt Bevin’s office, the secretary of the Finance Cabinet, the secretary of the Economic Development Cabinet and the secretary of the Tourism Cabinet.

“And nothing that we’re saying in this letter is going to be surprising to them,” she said. “And I don’t think really there’s anything in this letter that they’re not going to be supportive of. They’ve been very positive in all of the conversations we’ve had with them about doing most of the things in this letter.”

However, conversations are not enough and KCDC wants to see action.

The next step is to gain a critical mass of individuals in the community to write letters supporting the issues, which Bradshaw described as a “commonality of concerns” of people in the community.

“We have been talking about them all — for as long as I’ve been in this position,” she said. “… This, to me, was the first step. We just get the entire community organized. We get them accustomed to writing their legislators and writing the governor and expressing their concerns.”

As the tower will no longer be the home to state workers, the state has been trying to determine its future. It’s estimated that maintaining the deteriorating building, even after it’s empty, will cost taxpayers $1 million annually. In addition to funding demolition, KCDC would like to see the state prepare the area for development. The Capital Plaza Office Tower is surrounded by approximately 7 acres of downtown Frankfort real estate.

State property, which is not taxed, has long been a concern for local government and schools because of the loss of revenue. KCDC is asking the state to sell property it owns but does not use so that the property can be taxed.

In 2015 the state owned 129 properties within the city limits, with a combined acreage of 2,623 and estimated value of $709.5 million, The State Journal reported in November 2015. The estimated loss of tax revenue to the city was $1.5 million and $4.8 million to the Frankfort Independent Schools district. The state makes payments to the city in lieu of tax money, but that amount was $195,000 in 2015 — an eighth of the tax revenue the city would have received.

The letter also suggests the state help improve the Frankfort Convention Center, arguing the investment could offset some of the lost property tax revenue.

“The economic impact provided to this community by trade shows, conventions, and other meetings could potentially compensate for some of the negative fiscal impact of state owned properties in the city of Frankfort and Franklin County,” the letter reads.

KCDC created a letter template to make it easy for those who don’t want to change or edit it, but it is easy to edit if someone wants to personalize his letter. The template is available with this story online at www.state-journal.com.

KCDC plans to continue sending letters over the next year, as well as speaking at public meetings, community groups and civic organizations to educate even more of the community about what it’s trying to accomplish and why it’s important.

“There’s data that shows that, even in this age of social media, that letter writing is the best way to get legislators to act,” Bradshaw said. “So, we just need to get our community involved and we need to get in the practice of doing just that, so that when we get to the point of the next session, which is a budget session, everybody’s on board — everybody’s familiar with the process — and we just keep saying the same unified message over and over again.”

 

EDITORIAL: Year of big decisions ahead for Frankfort, Franklin County

Published 11:19 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Some weighty questions for Frankfort and Franklin County should get their answers in 2017.

In some cases, resolution can’t come soon enough.

On Tuesday’s front page, staff writers Brad Bowman and Rosalind Essig gave us their list of what to watch for in the year ahead. The list was notable for both its length and the magnitude of its entries.

Some highlights:

• The beleaguered Frankfort Police Department, which received a stinging rebuke from a circuit court judge for alleged misconduct in a 2015 homicide investigation, will undergo a thorough, “top to bottom” review by an independent entity of its policies, procedures and conduct. Such a review is necessary and long overdue. The department and its top leadership have operated in recent years under a cloud of suspicion and distrust that is unhealthy. We hope the third-party review either confirms systemic problems if they exist or puts to rest allegations of unethical behavior if concerns are unfounded. If the former, the City Commission needs to act swiftly to clean up the mess and begin restoring citizen confidence in the police department.

• Capital Plaza Tower, an eyesore that long ago wore out its welcome in downtown Frankfort, will soon come tumbling down if community leaders have their way. As detailed on today’s front page, Kentucky Capital Development Corp. has the tower’s demolition high on a list of action items requested of lawmakers and the governor’s office. KCDC is encouraging a letter-writing campaign by Frankfort and Franklin County citizens and organizations to help expedite removal of the building and return of the property to private interests and, by extension, the tax rolls. We can’t think of a single more meaningful change for downtown and its economy.

• Two vital institutions – Kentucky State University and city government – will get new leaders in 2017. Interim KSU President Aaron Thompson has done well under the circumstances, but former President Raymond Burse’s resignation in 2016 has left KSU in limbo that only permanent leadership can resolve. The Board of Regents has the tall task of choosing a leader who will bring stability to the university and tackle major problems like lagging enrollment, which is not an overnight fix.

At City Hall, the Frankfort City Commission has big shoes to fill with the departure of retiring City Manager Tim Zisoff. His replacement inherits a government that has become more efficient and citizen-friendly under Zisoff’s management, even generating a fiscal surplus last year that put commissioners in the enviable position of deciding how to spend it or return it to taxpayers.

Each of these decisions, considered individually, will have a tremendous impact on the community. Collectively, they add up to a pivotal 2017 for Frankfort and Franklin County.


Kentucky itinerary: Find bourbon, history and wine in Frankfort

      https://grouptour.com/itinerary/bourbon-history-wine-frankfort/ 


10 Main Streets In Kentucky That Are Pure Magic During Christmastime - Frankfort ranked #6

            http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/kentucky/main-streets-christmastime-ky/


Frankfort City Commission shows support for Kentucky Capital Development Corp. initiatives

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Frankfort City Commission approved a resolution to send a letter of support organized by Kentucky Capital Development Corp. (KCDC) to state government.

The letter will advocate for the removal of Capital Tower, opening Lock 5 on the Kentucky River, selling unused state property, and making improvements to the Frankfort Convention Center. KCDC Director Terri Bradshaw said she will be asking the Franklin County Fiscal Court to sign on to the effort, as well.

The commission also approved a resolution to adopt KCDC’s Economic Development Strategic Plan for downtown.

KCDC created the plan in 2013. The resolution is intended to be a show of support for the plan.


Posting for the City of Frankfort

Please see the attached a flyer for the Two Way Main Street Project. Please take a few minutes to give your thoughts, good or bad on the project as well as any suggestions on how to get more public participation. You may post your comments at the website
www.frankfortkywestmain.com



Blue Ridge Outdoors - 48 Hours in Frankfort, Kentucky

             http://www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/go-outside/48-hours-frankfort-kentucky/ 




KY Capital Development Corporation Partners in Bluegrass Alliance Consultant Visit to Atlanta

October 26-27, 2016

Excellent food and important conversations were on the agenda last Thursday for the KY Capital Development Corporation and its regional partners in the Bluegrass Alliance.  The short drive to Atlanta provided an opportunity for these economic development partners to interact with several important business contacts.

Kimberly Rosetti, with Lexington Commerce, worked for months to line up the attendees for a luncheon at the White Oak Kitchen, a contemporary southern cuisine restaurant in downtown Atlanta.  Seventeen site selectors, consultants and commercial realtors attended.  Bluegrass Alliance representatives were there to introduce these site selectors to central Kentucky and tout the many reasons they should encourage their clients to bring new businesses here. 

“One of the many benefits of the Bluegrass Alliance is that it allows us this wonderful opportunity to visit with numerous decision makers at one time,” said Terri Bradshaw, Executive Director or the KY Capital Development Corporation.  “Although each of us represents our own communities, we recognize that we will be far more successful competing globally if we focus on our unique assets as a region, and link and leverage these assets in new and different ways.  We know by reaching across these jurisdictional borders, that have all too often been barriers to collaboration in the past, we can build a strong partnership with critical mass of globally competitive assets, which makes all of us more marketable to businesses and jobs. “

In addition to Bradshaw, attending were members of the Bluegrass Alliance representing the Lexington Mayors office and economic development agencies from Paris-Bourbon County, Richmond, Jessamine County, Mt. Sterling - Montgomery County, Berea and Lexington.