Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New HIV Prevention Drug Could Be Produced in Owensboro

Within a decade, Owensboro could be the production center for a drug that could effectively eliminate the spread of HIV and AIDS worldwide -- if clinical trials are successful.

Kenneth Palmer, a researcher at the University of Louisville and the Owensboro Cancer Research Program, is the senior author of a study published Monday by the National Academy of Sciences about how the HIV inhibitor can be produced cheaply in plants.

Plans call for the drug -- if it eventually wins approval from the Food and Drug Administration -- to be grown in a form of tobacco plants patented by Kentucky BioProcessing in Owensboro and produced by KBP.

Palmer said Monday that the product, which uses the protein griffithsin, is believed to prevent the spread of HIV during sex.

Palmer said the idea is to keep the price of each dose of the product at roughly the same price as a condom. He predicted that sales could eventually equal those of condoms.

Hugh Haydon, chairman of Kentucky BioProcessing, said the company will have to go through the regulatory process to gain approval to grow the plants with the drug in fields rather than greenhouses.  If all goes well, he said, all three phases of clinical trials could be completed in five to six years.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Business and Research Center to Open by Summer

The transformation of an 86-year-old former tobacco warehouse at 1016 Allen St. into the high-tech Centre for Business and Research is on track to be completed by midsummer.

And Madison Silvert, vice president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. and executive director of its eMerging Ventures Center for Innovation, said he's hoping the first tenants will be ready to move in by fall.

Malcolm Bryant owns the 37,000-square-foot brick warehouse and is renovating it for modern offices and 8,000 square feet of research lab space.  "This building will be unique to this region and to Kentucky," he said. "Every day we're exposing more cool architecture in the building."  Bryant said the wood has been sandblasted to its original color, bricked up windows are being reopened to let in more natural light and a drainage cistern was discovered beneath the building.

Silvert said he's talking with several possible tenants for the space.  Plans call for the Centre for Business and Research to include research space for biotech companies as well as office space for a "business accelerator,  a place where new businesses can rent as much space as they need until they're ready to move out on their own. The center is designed to have lab space for clients of Kentucky BioProcessing who need research space in Owensboro.  The EDC  is talking with both private companies and educational institutions who are interested in space in the building.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Southern Indiana Coal Gasification Facility Create 1,000 Construction Jobs, 500 Permanent

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signs a bill into law that will create 1,000 construction and 500 permanent jobs in southern Indiana.

The bill makes it possible to move forward with the construction of a coal gasification plant in Rockport.

According to the governor's office, the plant will operate with 99 percent fewer pollutants than a traditional coal plant.

Should national coal policy mandate the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2), the SNG plant is designed to capture 90 percent of its CO2 emissions.

New Dunkin' Donuts Franchises Coming to Owensboro

Dunkin' Donuts, America's favorite everyday, all-day stop for coffee and baked goods, announced today the signing of a multi-unit store development agreement with Nita Patel for the development of five restaurants. The franchisee's plans call for 1 unit to open in 2010, and the balance within the next 3 years.

Nita Patel has extensive personal and family background in hospitality, food and beverage. Currently, Nita owns a Super 8 Hotel which is known in the city of Owensboro as one of the finest establishments in its tier. As a child, Nita's parents owned and operated a Dunkin' Donuts franchise so she is quite familiar with the Dunkin' Brands business and the donut industry.

"We are proud to bring Dunkin' Donuts' to the Owensboro community," said Nita Patel. "We look forward to being a vibrant part of the community and playing an important role in the daily lives of the people who live and work here."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Finalists Announced in Business Plan Competition

The eMerging Ventures Center for Innovation has selected the four finalists for its first $15,000 Challenge -- a business plan competition.

Madison Silvert, executive director of the center and EDC executive vice president, said Dalisha's Desserts, a dine-in high-quality dessert company; Fluent Universe, an Internet-based translation business; Agent511, a mobile technology company; and Stay-Dri, a continence solutions firm, will move on to the final round of the competition in April.

The companies are competing for a $15,000 investment award and a six-month lease at the Centre for Business and Research, a 27,000-square-foot laboratory and office facility being developed in a former tobacco warehouse in the 1000 block of Allen Street.

"We were excited by the level and quality of applicants in our first year," Silvert said in a news release. "It was, no doubt, a valuable learning experience for all of those who participated, and we would like for this to become an annual event."

The eMerging Ventures Center for Innovation is a division of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. It is designed to assist entrepreneurs and start-up companies in the Owensboro area.

The center includes a field office for Western Kentucky University's Central Region Innovation and Commercialization Center, the Owensboro office of Murray State University's Kentucky Small Business Development Center and the Owensboro chapter of the Service Corps of Retired Executives.

Friday, March 20, 2009

US Bank Mortgage Expands Owensboro Facility, Adding 300 Jobs

U.S. Bank Home Mortgage, which services more than a million residential loans nationwide from its service center on Frederica Street in Owensboro, Ky., will add 300 jobs and construct a new 50,000-square-foot building in the Highland Point Development to accommodate its growing business. The new building will be located at the corner of Bypass 60 and Highway 54. 

Approximately 225 employees will move to the new facility while 500 employees will remain at U.S. Bank’s 70,000-square-foot Frederica Street campus and 150 employees will stay at its 208,000-square-foot Moreland Street facility. 

“We will continue to add quality loans to our solid mortgage portfolio,” said Dan Arrigoni, president of U.S. Bank Home Mortgage. “This is a great time to reinvest in our infrastructure so that we can keep on providing top-notch service for our existing customers while building for our future mortgage growth.”

Nick Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation, said, "We are proud that U.S. Bank Home Mortgage chose Owensboro for this important and timely expansion. The additional jobs will likely mean that U.S. Bank will become the largest private employer in the region. We look forward to their continued success inOwensboro, as U.S. Bank is a significant contributor to our regional economy. With all the public investment in our community, there has never been a better time for private investment in Owensboro as well.”

Bob Smiley, U.S. Bank executive vice president and loan servicing manager at U.S. Bank Home Mortgage said the company reached a milestone in 2007 by surpassing $100 billion in servicing volume. Today, that volume has surpassed $144 billion and continues to grow.  It ranks ninth among mortgage companies nationally in terms of its servicing portfolio, and is in the top five in mortgage originations as of the fourth quarter of 2008.

U.S. Bank currently employs more than 850 people in Owensboro, plus approximately 100 temporary staff. 

“We are excited about expanding our national mortgage center here,” said Dan Prather, senior vice president at U.S. Bank Home Mortgage.  “It says a lot about the quality of the work force, the strong work ethic and the importance of the Owensboro market for U.S. Bank going forward. Owensboro is a key business center within our company and we look forward to our continued growth.”

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Downtown Project Officially Underway, Governor: "This will put Owensboro on the Map"

Community leaders in Owensboro officially put shovels in the dirt as a symbolic beginning of a $120 million revitalization of downtown.  

Later in the day, Governor Steve Beshear said the Owensboro downtown revitalization efforts were transformative and would put Owensboro on the map for future growth.  "In these challenging economic times, I applaud the leaders of this community for taking this bold step for the future of Owensboro." 

Daviess County Judge-Executive Reid Haire said today's activities were the first rock to fall in an avalanche of investments yet to come.  

The downtown master plan will result in a $79 million local public investment over the next 5 years to match the $40 million federal investment in the Owensboro riverfront, including a new privately funded 200+ room hotel to replace the Executive Inn, a Multi-Purpose Indoor Events Center suitable for sports and conventions, and a Market Square Plaza connecting the courthouse to the Riverfront Park.

Regional Growth Accelerating; More People Chosing to Live in Owensboro

Owensboro-Daviess County grew by 2,869 people -- an average of 358 people a year -- in the first eight years of the decade to a population of 94,418.  But the 3.1 percent growth rate is accelerating as the decade ends.

A U.S. Census Bureau report being released today estimates that the county grew by 655 people in the year ending July 1, 2007, and 728 in the year ending July 1, 2008.

One reason for the accelerated growth in the past couple of years is an increase in people moving into the county.  Since 2000, Daviess has added 3,512 people through natural increase -- more births than deaths.But the county has lost 225 people through migration.  Although 249 more people moved here from outside the U.S. during that period, 474 more Americans moved away to somewhere else in the country.  But last year, the report shows, the county gained 226 people from migration -- 30 from outside the U.S. and 196 from other parts of the country.

"That's an outstanding reversal," Nick Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp., said Wednesday. "It's great news."Brake said the growth "validates the concept of place making" as a strategy for growth. "Our emphasis on community renewal was probably a contributing factor" to the growth."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

EDC, OCTC create Workforce Re-training Partnership

The EDC and three other agencies have teamed to create Training HQ, a program to quickly retrain laid-off workers for other jobs that are still in high demand.  Most dislocated workers will qualify for free training using federal stimulus funds, the agencies said Tuesday during a news conference at the Greater Owensboro Commerce Center.

Nick Brake, president of the Greater Owens-boro Economic Development Corp., said the partnership allows the community to "offer training quickly to workers looking for new or better jobs."  How the community reacts to the current recession and its rising unemployment rate will determine how well it succeeds in the future, Brake said.  

Cindy Fiorella, vice president of workforce development for Owensboro Community & Technical College, said Training HQ will offer "short term training for quick jobs."  Programs offered include advanced manufacturing skills, electrical and mechanical maintenance, welding, emerging team leader, medical coding specialist, pharmacy technician, phlebotomy technician, certified nursing assistant and National Career Readiness Certificate.  The college is offerring a free seminar about the program is scheduled for 7:45 to 11:45 a.m. Friday at the Advanced Technology Center on OCTC's main campus.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Owensboro ties for 8th in Economic Development Activity for Small Metros

The Greater Owensboro region tied for 8th in the latest rankings by Site Selection magazine for economic activity among small metro areas.   Owensboro tied Bowling Green and five other regions with populations under 200,000 people with six qualified economic development projects in 2008.  Qualified projects include those that meet at least one of three criteria: (1) involve a capital investment of at least $1 million, (2) create 50 or more jobs, or (3) add at least 20,000 square feet of new floor space.  Kentucky ranked 9th in the edition's annual Governor's Cup competition among states. 

Site Selection publisher Conway Data has showcased the annual Governor’s Cup rankings since 1978.    Its yearly analyses are regarded by corporate real estate analysts as “the industry scoreboard”.  The magazine’s circulation base consists of 44,000 executives involved in corporate site selection decisions.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I-64/ I-65 Corridor Gets Stimulus Funding

The I-65/ I-64 Corridor (U.S. 60 bypass extension project) will receive a $35.65 million boost of federal stimulus dollars that will allow construction to begin in less than a year under the proposed state road plan presented to House members Thursday.

The money would be available this fiscal year and the next to begin construction on the project from U.S. 60 to Kentucky 54 and providing access to the new Owensboro Medical Health System hospital planned on Daniels Lane.

The project was part of a total plan to spend $1.2 billion statewide through the end of next fiscal year on road projects using state and federal road funds, roughly $400 million in federal stimulus dollars and issuing a total of $400 million in new road bonds. 

The project will create a new north-south corridor will have a significant economic impact for the future growth of the region.   The U.S. 60 By Pass extension is part of a much bigger transportation picture that connects Interstate 64 in Spencer County, Indiana via US 231 with Interstate 65 via the Natcher Parkway in Bowling Green.   

Sunday, March 1, 2009

OMHS Economic Asset for Region

The Owensboro Medical Health System recieved Health Grades "Distinguished Hospial Award" for 2009, putting it among the top 5 percent of rated hospitals in the nation.  Only five Kentucky hospitals recieved the award, the other four are in Louisville. 

OMHS is a key economic driver.  They are the among the largest employers in western Kentucky, with over 3,000 employees.  The newly planned $300 million expansion planned for the east side of Owensboro is a signal of the long-term positon OMHS will play in providing quality health care in the region.  

The Health Grades recognition signals the role of OMHS  to the region's overall quality of place. As the population of the United States continues to age, quality health care is a key determinent of where people choose to live and spend their money.  The high level of medical care provided by OMHS will positively impact the future competitiveness of the Greater Owensboro region.