Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Swedish Match to Add Jobs

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved a Kentucky Industrial Development Act incentive program for Swedish Match of Owensboro for an expansion at the Owensboro plant.

Louisville-based National Tobacco Co. will move production of 39 of its products from Louisville to Owensboro next year under a long-term agreement with Swedish Match North America.
"It will definitely mean jobs for Owensboro," Rusty Warnick, vice president of operations and supply for Swedish Match North America, said Friday. "We're not sure yet how many jobs, but I would say a minimum of seven to 10. These are good-paying jobs." The company has about 350 employees in Owensboro now.

A National Tobacco news release says all of the company's loose-leaf tobacco brands will be produced in Owensboro in the future. Those brands include Beech-Nut and the value-priced Durango.

Swedish Match produces such brands as Red Man and Timber Wolf in Owensboro.
"Loose-leaf tobacco is a declining market," Warnick said. "This will help us maintain a number of jobs as well as add more."
Production of National Tobacco products will be moved gradually to Owensboro throughout 2009, he said. National Tobacco said it will "retain all marketing, distribution and trademark rights over its brands. The company will continue to maintain its administrative headquarters at the Louisville facility."

The Owensboro plant, which opened in January 1973, is Swedish Match's only North American smokeless tobacco production facility.

Monday, September 29, 2008

KBP, Bayer Agreement Strengthens Owensboro as Center for Plant-Based Biotech Manufacturing

DUSSELDORF, Germany and OWENSBORO, Kentucky, USA—Bayer Innovation GmbH (BIG), and Kentucky Bioprocessing, LLC (KBP) today announced an agreement under which they will collaborate to develop a facility to provide production services based on Bayer’s proprietary magnICON® technology at KBP’s Owensboro plant. magnICON®, is a transient protein expression system in tobacco plants, for the commercial scale production of plant made pharmaceutical proteins (PMP) and other high-value products.

Under terms of the agreement, KBP will adapt its existing cGMP compliant facility by installing an automated system for high throughput transfection of tobacco host plants. The agreement makes KBP the preferred and recommended production partner for the application of magnICON®, technology and further grants KBP exclusive production rights in certain applications.

This combination of facilities and expertise will accelerate the commercialization of magnICON®-based products by providing all magnICON® users access to a cGMP compliant protein expression and purification facility for product development and manufacturing.
―Bayer has several internal product development projects – for example a vaccine for the therapy of Non-Hodgkin-Lymphoma or an influenza vaccine - based on our magnICON® platform and we are also in the process of licensing out this technology to several parties. To accelerate these projects, we decided to team up with an experienced external manufacturer, and KBP, with its excellent facilities and highly qualified personnel is the best choice‖, said Dr. Detlef Wollweber, General Manager of Bayer Innovation.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Owensboro GDP Growth Rate Higher than Nation

The Owensboro MSA gross domestic product (GDP) based on estimates released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), outpaced growth both nationally and regionally. The GDP of a metropolitan area is defined as the market value of all final goods and services produced within that area for a given period of time. GDP is the most comprehensive measure of economic activity for a metropolitan area. Owensboro’s GDP grew by $275 million between 2005 and 2006. The 7.5% growth is higher than the 3.2% national growth. It was also higher than the 4.1% increase in the Evansville/ Henderson metro and the 6.5% growth in the Bowling Green metro. The Owensboro MSA five year growth was 19.6%.

Industries with the largest growth over the five-year period include health care and social assistance, manufacturing, and private service-providing industries. Private good producing industries, constituted $1.5 billion of the metro GDP (nearly $1 billion of which come from manufacturing), while private service-providing industries were responsible for $1.9 billion. Manufacturing bounced back with its first growth period in five years, an 18% increase. The health care sector continued steady growth, with an 8% increase between 2005 and 2006.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Carnegie Village to Offer Live-Work Space for Entrepreneurs

The City of Owensboro in conjunction with the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. will announce plans today for a new development adjacent to downtown Owensboro called Carnegie Village. The anchor project in Carnegie Village is the Centre for Business and Research. With additional funding from the Daviess County Fiscal Court, the Centre for Business and Research is a 37,000 square foot business accelerator and research facility to meet the growing demand for lab, research, and high technology company space. It would also allow the growth of university level applied research and further cultivate high technology companies through the Emerging Ventures Center for Innovation.

Centre for Business and Research will provide infrastructure for prospective high tech companies similar to the way the Mid-America Airpark provides the needed infrastructure for industrial development. The current growth of plant biotech companies associated with Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP) has created a demand for biotech lab space. Area colleges and universities can utilize the new lab facilities to promote applied research and business commercialization.

The Centre is part of an overall proposed urban village development called Carnegie Village, a “hot spot” for redeveloping the downtown adjacent area of the city. The location at 9th and Allen can be a catalyst for the creation of a pedestrian corridor along Allen Street linked to the central downtown district.

The development is located to the east in the same block as the new Ryan Park and the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art. To the west are the planned Police Training Facility, the planned J.Z. Moore Village and Historic District and the new Germantown Park. The historic Union Station complex is to the immediate south of the development. To the north sits Brescia University. The property in the parcels adjacent to the Centre will be developed by the City of Owensboro Community Development Department in conjunction with the Placemaking model created by the Gateway Planning Group. Preliminary plans include the mixed-use residential and commercial developments in a walkable urbanist format giving the entrepreneurs from the Centre the opportunity for a unique living and working experience in an urban environment.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Warehouse Going High-tech

By Keith Lawrence

An 85-year-old former tobacco warehouse near downtown Owensboro will soon be converted into high-tech lab space to search for cures for cancer and other diseases.

The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp., Kentucky BioProcessing LLC and city and county officials will join with representatives of half a dozen Kentucky colleges and universities at 10 a.m. Tuesday to announce plans for the Centre for Business and Research at 1016 Allen St.

Nick Brake, EDC president, said the 37,000-square-foot building will be the anchor for the Carnegie Village development planned in the area around Ninth and Allen streets. Details will be announced Tuesday. The village takes its name from the nearby Carnegie Building, the original section of the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art.

Brake said the warehouse will undergo extensive renovations to get ready for technology-based companies that will use it for research and incubator office space. "Kentucky BioProcessing has run out of lab space," Brake said. "The companies they work with need lab space in Owensboro."
Between 5,000 and 8,000 square feet of the building will be devoted to labs.
The rest will be used for office space for new companies and an accelerator program that lets businesses that start in the center expand into additional space until they are ready to move out into their own buildings.

The warehouse has had a colorful past, serving as home to such nightspots as Rockafellas, Amnezia and The Underground, the YB Corral western dance club and most recently, Common Ground, a Christian teen club.

Now, Brake said, the building will be used to leverage university research in Owensboro.
Western Kentucky University will assign several doctoral-level research faculty members to the facility to work with graduate students, he said.

Western already has a food manufacturing degree that's only offered at its Owensboro campus.
A food lab will be part of the center, Brake said, with an industrial kitchen that can be used for startup companies to test their products and develop them for market.

Madison Silvert, EDC vice president, said local colleges will use some of the space for undergraduate programs. He sees companies being created by former students to develop products they discovered in their research.

The proximity to Brescia University will be helpful, Brake said. "There are business incubators all over the country," Silvert said. "But there are very few business accelerators."
Incubator space is usually only available to start-up companies for the first year, he said.
But the next few years are when companies are the most vulnerable, until profits start coming in, Silvert said.

The accelerator space will give companies room to grow until they're ready to build, he said.
Brake said the center will have high-speed Internet and the type of security that such a building requires. Seven universities and colleges will be affiliated with the center, he said. The list includes the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, Western, Murray State University, Brescia, Kentucky Wesleyan College and Owensboro Community & Technical College.
Brake said several clients are already interested in leasing space.

Silvert said EDC is talking with out-of-state venture capital companies about providing grants and loans for businesses in the center. "They tell us this is unique in the Midwest," he said. "Some are interested in office space so they could be near their clients."
Brake calls the project "a 21st century industrial park."

Development will take several years, he said. EDC did a "rigorous site selection search," Brake said. The warehouse is owned by Malcolm Bryant, a developer who serves on the EDC board. Bryant will lease the space to the center. "We considered a number of sites," Brake said, "including building a new facility next to KBP in MidAmerica Airpark."

But the cost of leasing and renovating are much lower than building from scratch and the location near both downtown and Brescia makes the Allen Street site very attractive, he said.
Brake said the Carnegie Village development will anchor the southern edge of downtown and is part of the Gateway Planning Group's master plan for downtown.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Downtown Placemaking as Economic Development

As the focus of the Gateway Planning efforts for the Downtown Owensboro Placemaking initiative move toward implementation, a common question often emerges. How does placemaking impact economic development?

Certainly a revival of any downtown generates economic activity through tourism, retail, and even residential developments, but the real impact is not necessarily about the economic activity, although that is critical. It is fundamentally about talent attraction and leveraging the urbanism in the downtown to distinguish the region from "everytown USA."

Christopher Leinberger says it very well in his recent book, The Option of Urbanism. "All the fancy economic development 'flavors of the month' do not hold a candle to the power of a great walkable urban place. Place-based strategies that create walkable urbanism will attract the broad spectrum of talent required to build a great and vibrant economy. Build a great place, offering the choice of many ways of living, including all kinds of drivable suburban and walkable urban options, and they will come-- young entrepreneurs, the venture capitalists, the skilled technicians, and the school teachers" (170).

Ultimately the Downtown Placemaking initiative is about creating an environment that attracts talented people of all ages.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Downtown Development Grounded in Market Reality

A primary reason that Gateway Planning was chosen to complete the Downtown Owensboro Placemaking initiative is due to their demonstrated effectiveness in marrying downtown development and market forces. This marriage is the essence of placemaking.

Today, the Gateway team unveiled the elements of the downtown development program. The details of the plan can be found at the downtownowensboro.com.

The suggestion of public amenities and private investment in downtown are based on very rigorous economic analysis provided by Gateway team economist Jon Hockenyos. Hockenyos estimates and the master plan design revealed today show design for the downtown reflecting the market reality of downtown Owensboro with the following recommendations:
  • Approximately 300 to 500 residential units, which represents around 10% of the residential units that will be constructed in the metro area over the next 10 years. The design identifies four areas for mixed income housing in the downtown core that would promote a walkable urban envirornment. The plan also call for significant pedestrian linkages and even the possibility of an electric street car to connect downtown to amenities along Frederica street.

  • Approximately 250 to 300 hotels rooms in the core downtown, which would likely come with a new convention-caliber hotel and replace the Executive Inn. The design suggests that this could be leveraged in a couple of areas of downtown, many of which do not include the current Executive Inn property.

  • Approximately 40,000 to 70,000 square feet of convention space in a multi-purpose indoor event center that can accomodate business-caliber conventions and various sporting events. The plan offered various senarios for the location of a convention center, including a deisgn that does not require the Executive Inn property.

  • Mixed-use office and retail space based on market conditions and downtown housing development. The economic analysis suggests approximately 300,000 square feet of office and 100,000 to 150,000 square feet of retail/ restaurant space over the next 10 years, much of it leveraged across from the riverfront development park along Veteran's Blvd. and adjacent to the public amenities such as the convention center and hotel.

  • Public space for a Farmer's Market in the downtown core area that could become a year-round amenity and attract a whole foods shop or small-scale grocery. The design offers several options, including a newly created public green that connects the courthouse lawn to the riverfront park.

  • Museums and movie theatre to add to the entertainment appeal and enhance the retail and restaurant opporutnities. Increased investment in downtown musuems could enhance other elements of the downtown.

  • A privately financed outdoor event venue built to be baseball-friendly, the site plan call for this to be on a mix of public and private property.

  • Arts and cultural education center that would capitalize on the great fine arts education in the local schools, colleges, and universities programed in conjunction with the River Park Center Young Adult Theatre Academy the Owensboro Symphony Academy and other musuems.

To see specific renditions from the Gateway Planning Master Plan presentation, please visit http://www.downtownowensboro.com/

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Decoding the Language of New Urbanism

With the work of the Gateway Planning team on the Owensboro Downtown Placemaking initiative the community has heard a lot of new terminology and new discussion about new urbanist ideas. Concepts like new urbanism, placemaking, walkable urbanism, mixed-use, sustainable development, smart growth, and form-based codes are all key elements of downtown revitalization in cities all across the country. What do they mean?

Known by a variety of names, the defining characteristics of new urbanist projects appear to be walkable neighborhoods, a mix of land uses that integrate housing, shops, civic facilities, and work places, and preservation and respect for the natural environment in the form of maintaining greenspace. The economic and fiscal effects are summarized as follows:

New urbanist developments tend to enhance quality of life, which is crucial to both recruitment and retention of companies;

Mixed-use developments promote greater land-use density, which can help ease the pressure on transportation systems and other infrastructure;

New urbanist developments tend to have a longer “shelf-life” than traditional developments, which will tend to create a greater fiscal impact over the medium and longer-term. A portion of this impact is due to the inclusion of housing in the project, both through direct enhancement of the tax base and the indirect effects of relocating consumers to the central city.

Charles Leinberger, in the book the Option of Urbanism, outlines the movement away from the pre-industrial walking city away from urbanism to an era of driveable sub-urban development in the post World War II 20th Century. This shift lead to our dependency on automobiles, gasoline, automobile manufacturing as a base on employment, and ultimately sub-urban sprawl as the preferred development option. This shift away from walkable cities to auto-dependent development in the suburbs is reflected in popular culture on TV with families like those in Leave it to Beaver to the Brady Bunch living in the suburbs.

By the late 20th century the pendulum began to move back to the center with a reemergence of walkable urban developments in many larger cities around the country. Again, popular culture reflected this shift. Rather than the living in the suburbs, TV shows like Seinfeld and Friends were once again set in walkable urban settings.

This does not mean that drivable suburbia and automobiles are becoming a thing of the past. Both will co-exist in cities large and small around the country. With $4 a gallon gasoline and the push for environmental conscious development, the setting is ripe for walkable urbanist development. To read more about New Urbanism, go to the following links. http://www.newurbanism.org/newurbanism/principles.html, http://www.uli.org/, http://www.gatewayplanning.com/Gateway_base_frame.html, http://www.cnu.org/

To see the urban design standards prepared for Owensboro by the Gateway Planning group, please visit http://www.downtownowensboro.com/ and click on Owensboro Urban Design Guidelines.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Be a Part of the New Downtown

Next week is a big week for downtown Owensboro!

The Owensboro Downtown Placemaking initiative, launched by the EDC earlier this year, will reach a climax with a series of town meetings and community design workshops intended to give regional residents opportunities to participate in the "Designing a Downtown for Everyone. "

The process will kick off on Monday, September 9 at 6:30 pm at the River Park Center where Neal Pierce, a well respected journalist and and chairman of the Citistates group, will revisit many of the recommendations he made to the Owensboro region two decades ago, including the importance of downtown development.

The process will continue with a mid-week visual design pin-up session on Wednesday, September 10 at the River Park Center. The final session of the week will be held at noon on Friday at River Park.

The final results will be presented on November 15 from 9 am to noon at Kentucky Wesleyan College.

For more information, or to register for these sessions please visit http://www.downtownowensboro.com/

To read about Neal Peirce visit http://citistates.com/speakers/npeirce/ To review of the Peirce Report as it relates to downtown Owensboro please visit http://www.plfo.org/advocate/volume_5_issue_1/#peirce

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Time is Right for Walkable Urbanism in Owensboro

The following In My View, which appeared in the Messenger-Inquirer, is from Michael Huston, Owensboro native and urban designer currently working with the Gateway Planning team on the Downtown Owensboro Placemaking work.

Having been born in the mid 60’s they tell me that I am a member of Generation X, albeit just barely. Our claim to fame is that we were the first generation to be brought up on an endless stream of television sitcoms and TV dinners. I think you could also say that we were also the first truly suburban, car-dependent generation, and the first generation to grow up without a “real” downtown. Even though there were still a few retail stores here in downtown Owensboro when I was young (Anderson’s, Interstate and Sears to name a few), I never experienced the downtown that my parents and grandparents knew; the downtown full of retail stores, drugstores, diners, movie theaters…and people. The generations that have come after me (and I am starting to lose count), know even less about the thriving commerce, the local meeting places, and the entertainment options that used to be at the center of every town.

It wasn’t in fact, until I began traveling, first within the big cities on the east coast, and then in Europe, that I was able to experience the type of urban vitality than was once prevalent in all U.S. towns and cities. I saw in New York City a series of linked, walkable neighborhoods, each with its own drugstore, grocery store, drycleaners, etc. Later in Europe, I saw that this type of urban vitality can exist even in smaller towns and cities. In all of these places, I witnessed a type of social interaction between people that is all but eliminated as we wiz by in our cars up and down Frederica Street and around the bypass, and I started to feel that we as a society were missing something in our now-suburbanized towns. It was then that I became passionate advocate of downtown revitalization efforts.

Therefore, as an architect and urban designer who grew up in Owensboro, I felt a great deal of excitement and satisfaction when I was asked to join the urban design team with the Gateway Planning Group who is spearheading the development of the Downtown Owensboro Placemaking Initiative. This planning process will go beyond just design by establishing community priorities and outlining public/private investments needed to make it a reality. I feel that the timing has never been better to start such an endeavor. With an aging population, higher gas prices, and the threat of global warming more people are seeking a compact, less car-dependent environment; a perfect fit for downtown. And with the closing of the Executive Inn (as painful as it may be), we have a unique opportunity to reinvent seventeen acres of riverfront property into an even more successful downtown destination.

Yet, some may still ask, why go to all the effort? I think there are many reasons why we should, or perhaps must, take on this challenge. Economically, it is imperative that Owensboro remains competitive in creating and keeping good jobs. To do so, we must maintain a quality of life that is as good as, or better, than our regional competitors. Owensboro already has so much to offer, and a beautiful, thriving downtown would add even more to its appeal. Further, every great town or city needs a strong “center” as a place of identity and a place to come together as a community. The renaissance has, in fact, already begun in Owensboro as can be seen by the sidewalk caf├ęs on Second and Third Streets, the opening of a new dance studio on the east side of downtown, and the imminent renovation of the Smith Werner Building. This plan will help to ensure that the renaissance will continue, and that when the big pieces are added to the puzzle, whether a new hotel, a new convention center, etc., it will be done in a way that reinforces the “downtown experience” as a whole.

Now, back to Generation X. It is my hope that my generation, and the generations that follow, will once again be able to feel the spirit of community and identity that come with having a strong, vital “center.” And that in addition to the option of living in the suburbs, we will have the option to live and work in a beautiful downtown urban neighborhood, in a “not-so-quiet” town on the banks of the Ohio River.

Michael Huston

Michael Huston is an Architect and Urban Designer with the Gateway Planning Group and lives in Miami, Florida. He is a graduate of Owensboro Catholic High School.

Email: mike@gatewayplanning.com