Tuesday, July 28, 2009

City of Owensboro moves ahead with Local Incentive Program

The Owensboro City Commission took a step toward creating an aggressive local incentive program. The Local Government Shared Investment Policy is a public private partnership between local government and developers to foster the public benefit of economic development for the region.

The approach represents a policy shift focusing on ways to incentivize redevelopment, infill development in the urban core, and smart growth tactics in the suburban areas rather than solely incentivizing unplanned suburban expansion as is the practice with the current annexation incentive on the books. The proposed policy would not eliminate the use of the annexation-based incentive; rather just add a robust tool to the incentive arsenal representing major shifts occurring in the world of commercial real estate and residential development.

This new direction comes in response to events occurring in real estate markets as a result of the Global Financial Crisis. The crisis has hit suburban markets in many parts of the American landscape. While Owensboro has not suffered as significantly as other areas, some potential development has been impacted. Areas that are especially hard hit are office parks, shopping centers, big box retail, and apartment complexes. Many of these developments are ripe for transformation into more dense mixed use development.

Urban Land, a leading commercial real estate publication, writes in the June 2009 issue that “now is the time and this is the opportunity for municipalities, planners, real estate developers, and economic developers to come together to reshape development patterns of sprawl.”

One of the major trends in real estate development that support business recruitment and economic development is the retrofit infill projects of existing strip malls and big box retail centers into mixed use developments with office space. Owensboro has numerous locations where this could occur, but have no incentive package or zoning policies to support developers to do this kind of infill development.

Next: Details about the Project-Based Inducements proposed in the new Shared Investment Policy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Downtown Design Standards Translate into Investment Security

Officials from the Gateway Planning Group told the Owensboro City Commission on Tuesday that having design standards for buildings will spur private investment downtown while protecting the investments of people who open businesses in the area.

Gateway officials said having design standards for renovating downtown buildings has been the deciding factor in other cities that wanted to draw investment back to the city's core.

"What we're most interested in ... is design compatibility," said Scott Polikov, Gateway's president.

The plan breaks downtown up into several districts -- the historic core, downtown core, riverfront core, riverfront edge, downtown transition, Frederica Street corridor, downtown campus and fringe neighborhoods. Each district will have set design regulations governing building size, height per floor, setbacks from the property line and other items. Other regulations will cover parking and the types of signs that are allowed.

The goal is create buildings that are designed in such a way that, if a business were to close, a new business could move in without changing the character of the district, and the "beauty of the (neighborhood) remains constant," Polikov said.

"We're more concerned with: How does it feel as you walk down the street?" Polikov said.

The plan calls for a downtown design administrator to be appointed by the city manager. The administrator will work with a committee made up of city staff and members of the Owensboro Metropolitan Planning Commission, and the body will be tasked with reviewing development plans to ensure they conform with the design standards.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Owensboro welcomes researchers from around the world

The pharmeceutical industry is one of the fastest growing industries in America -- and with the rising cost of healthcare -- companies are looking for money-saving technology. They may be able to find it in Owensboro, Kentucky.

A group of researchers from all over the world paid a visit to Kentucky Bioprocessing in Owensboro to learn more. KBP's research entails using one of Kentucky's signature crops, tobacco, to manufacture medicine, especially vaccines -- the scientists here are pioneers -- conducting trials for an HPV and HIV vaccine. They are also partnered with Bayer giving them another industry-changing advantage; they have the potential to produce drugs in large quantities and at low cost.

These scientific advances aren't just making an international name for KBP but for Owensboro as well. The city is currently building infrastructure to complement the growth of the pharmaceutical industry -- it's called the Center for Business and Research -- and officials say it will be ready in time for whatever is next in the Owensboro science community."

Researchers are now planning to meet in Owensboro every two years for an international symposium.
Until now, the gathering place for plant-based pharmaceutical scientists has been in Italy -- now Owensboro is the designated center for North America.

Seven different nations were represented at the symposium discussing the future of plant based pharmaceuticals. KBP is a key element in the formula.

"I think it's the beginning of a real revolution. Owensboro is perfectly positioned to take full advantage of it," said German Dr. Yuri Gleba, managing director of Icon Genetics and affilate of Bayer.

With the first plant based drug only projected a few years away from going on the market, many international companies have to get their clinical materials through KBP, placing them right on the world circuit.

"When we talk about plant made pharmaceuticals, we talk about coming here because we know this is one of the innovators in the world that can actually make a commitment to supply what we believe will be FDA approvable products," said CEO of CBR International Corporation Dr. Jeanne Novak

Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation president Nick Brake likes Owensboro's position.

"It's a unique opportunity because it's an opportunity to really build an emerging industry. An industry that's growing and is really set to take off anytime now, making Owensboro the epicenter for that type of growth," said Brake.

"There's no doubt that they can scale it up if necessary to be a real manufacture when the products are approved by the Federal Drug Administration," said Gleba.

Dr. Novak says the local support from government and farmers will be what keeps KBP in the forefront internationally with plant based drugs.

Click on the following links to see TV news reports of the Plant Therapeutics Symposium at KBP

To see a summary of Owensboro's Plant Therapeutics Infrastrucutre on You Tube, click the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwY2qcd6y2w

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Baker Hired to Lead Hancock Economic Development effort in Partnership with the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp.

Mike Baker, a former plant manager in the Hancock County aluminum industry, was hired by the Hancock County Industrial Foundation to serve as an interim leader of economic development efforts in Hancock County. He will also forge a new regional economic partnership with the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation as part of a new agreement between the two agencies.

Baker, who retired this year as the General Manager of the Aleris aluminum rolling mill in Lewistport after a 20 year career in the aluminum and manufacturing industries, will serve as an interim until the end of this year.

“Mike brings a wealth of industry experience to the position in Hancock County,” said David Hamilton, the chair of the Hancock County Industrial Foundation. “His insight and expertise in the aluminum industry will be especially valuable in working with many of the existing industries in the region.”

Part of his role as interim, Baker will join the economic development team at the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation to advance a regional approach to economic development. The two agencies have agreed to terms of a partnership that would foster communication regarding economic development “joint” prospects and working in tandem with those prospects and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development to match the strengths of each community to the needs of the prospect. The EDC would include sites in Hancock County as part of its marketing and recruitment efforts.

“We are far stronger working together as a region,” said Hamilton. “This level of collaboration will benefit both communities and the region overall.”

Hancock County has some of the best property in the eastern United States with river, rail, and highway access,” said EDC President/CEO Nick Brake. “Owensboro-Daviess County does not have the same abundance of land available out of the flood plain, but we do have amenities that are attractive to industry that we can work together to recruit.”

Baker will officially be employed by the Hancock County Industrial Foundation and the position, based in Hawesville, will be funded by the Hancock County Fiscal Court.

The position will work on a day-to-day basis with the Hancock County government and Brake, as EDC President. The organizations will also collaborate through shared board appointments, workforce development activities, and existing industry efforts.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

US Bank Facility and Job Growth on Schedule

The finishing touches are being put on a new home mortgage facility in Owensboro, and a lot of new jobs come with the territory U.S. Bank announced this spring it would add 300 jobs to its operations in Owensboro. Now, the new facility off the U.S. 60 Bypass and Highway 54 is starting to take shape.

"There's quite a bit of growth going on out in that area, but the new building is up, we're on schedule to move in in mid-September," Jennifer Garris with U.S. Bank said.

Nick Brake of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation said these 300 professional, back-office employees are just the kind of jobs he's trying to attract to the community.

"They are what we would classify as professional, back-office positions, something we're trying to focus and target a little bit in our community as we look at as we grow in the future," Brake said.

Some say the majority of new jobs will come from existing companies in the community like U.S. Bank, not new companies moving into the area.

U.S. Bank has about 850 workers on the payroll in Owensboro. The new facility opens in the fall.

Monday, July 6, 2009

KBP bringing Plant-based Therapeutics Symposium to Owensboro: Conference to feature leading experts in Plant Made Pharmaceuticals

Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP), the Owensboro Cancer Research Program (OCRP) and Sullivan University College of Pharmacy will host a Plant-Based Therapeutics Symposium July 15-16 in Louisville and Owensboro.

Presentations will address the latest innovations in plant-based pharmaceutical (PMP) research, development and commercialization and will feature some of the world’s leading experts in the emerging bio-pharmaceutical production platform. Those scheduled to present include:

  • Dr. Jeanne Novak, President and CEO of Boulder, Colorado-based CBR International. Novak has led interaction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other international regulatory bodies for a number of PMP product candidates. CBR provides high-level strategic, clinical development and regulatory consulting for the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Dr. Charles Arntzen, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccinology, the Biodesign Institute and Florence Ely Nelson Presidential Chair of Arizona State University.
  • Dr. Yuri Gleba, Managing Director for Icon Genetics, a Bayer GmbH subsidiary focused on developing new biopharmaceuticals and high-value protein products using green plants as production hosts.

The Wednesday, July 15 sessions will take place in Louisville at Sullivan University College of Pharmacy, located at Bardstown Road and the Watterson Expressway. The first day’s sessions will focus on product development and recent advances in PMP research. On Thursday, conference attendees will travel by bus to Owensboro and KBP where the program will be directed to commercialization and business opportunities.

To register for the conference, contact Allison Koch at 502-413-8955 or email akoch@sullivan.edu.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New tax credits available to qualifying companies

One of the major initiatives passed in the special session of the Kentucky General Assembly last week was a rewrite of the state's business incentives. The bill was sponsored by Owensboro Representative Tommy Thompson. A summary of the major changes introduced by the bill is below.

  • Assistance for existing manufacturers who need to make significant capital investments in Kentucky facilities in order to remain competitive, preventing loss of jobs to competitor states
  • $2.5 million minimum new investment
  • Existing manufacturers may recover up to 50% of the cost for new equipment and 100% of training costs through income tax credits
Technology-based Firms:
  • Provide a sales and use tax refund for companies that are heavy users of computer and telecommunications equipment
  • Must invest at least $100 million in computer or telecommunications equipment for installation and use in Kentucky
  • Systems must be an integral part of the product or service that is the primary business of the new or expanding firm
  • Expand the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA) to allow companies to receive sales tax refunds for the purchase of electronic processing systems costing at least $50,000
  • Can be combined with sales tax credits for construction costs to provide a significant savings for projects investing $500,000
Small Businesses (50 or less employees):
  • Small business must create one new job and retain that job for one year
  • Must also invest at least $5,000 in qualifying equipment
  • The maximum amount of credit for each small business for each year shall not exceed $25,000
Other incentives may be available depending on company circumstances or need. For more information or to schedule an appointment regarding these changes, please contact the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation at 270-926-4339 or email Sharla Austin-Darnell, Existing Industry Manager at sdarnell@owensboro.com