Wednesday, March 31, 2010

EDC recognizing Owensboro Existing Businesses at April Chamber Breakfast

Healthy communities have strong, healthy businesses. The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation is recognizing the role that existing businesses play in the local economy at the April Rooster Booster Breakfast. Two-thirds of the new jobs created nationally come from growth in existing businesses—that statistic holds true in Owensboro. A top priority at GO-EDC is the existing business program. It is a key strategy to creating wealth and opportunity for the region.

Sharla Austin Darnell serves as EDC’s single point of contact, a full-time staff person dedicated to the needs of existing businesses. She is available to work with local businesses to assist with expansion projects, identify incentives and workforce needs, and help increase competitiveness in the wider marketplace.

The regional economy has faced numerous challenges during the recent economic downturn. Despite these, the manufacturing climate in Owensboro remains healthy. Owensboro’s overall economic strength index is higher than it has been in five years. Manufacturing job retention in Owensboro is 94 percent over the past decade. In contrast, the nation as a whole retained less than 85 percent of manufacturing jobs over the same time period. During the recession alone the EDC worked 16 expansion projects totaling more than $90 million in new investment and 500 new jobs.

Talent is a major aspect of existing industry competitiveness. People are the most valuable natural resource in the 21st Century. Today we are highlighting several tools and partnerships focusing on helping companies attract, retain and develop talent.

One such partnership is with the Green River Area Development District. GRADD offers many services to employers through the Workforce Investment Act. On-the-Job Training assists an employer in hiring and training new employees efficiently and economically with wage reimbursement incentives. Incumbent Worker training for layoff aversion provides funds to businesses for the purpose of providing skill enhancement. EDC and GRADD also work closely with the Owensboro Community and Technical College on various workforce development programs, many of which come with significant state incentives.

Another “tool for talent” is These are web-based regional talent pool of more than 4,500 potential employees organized in an interactive, user-friendly database. Employers can search for potential candidates based on specific criteria, and job seekers post their experience all free of charge.

GO-iNTERN is an additional free “tool for talent” provided to local businesses. Employers can post internship opportunities at free of charge. GO-EDC offers internship development assistance to interested companies.

For more information please contact Sharla Austin Darnell at GO-EDC at 270-926-4339 or

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Kentucky BioProcessing Wins $17.9 Million Defense Department Contract

Kentucky Bioprocessing LLC has been given a $17.9 million investment award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, according to a news release from the U.S. Defense Department.

The Owensboro, Ky.-based company was among 25 firms that bid on the federal contract. The technology investment agreement calls for Kentucky Bioprocessing to develop “a proof-of-concept platform capable of yielding a purified vaccine candidate using a whole plant-based process,” the release said.

Work is expected to be completed in March 2011. Kentucky Bioprocessing is a biotechnology company that uses plant-based proteins to develop scientific processes that can advance science.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Economic Development Benefits to Retiring Baby Boomers

Keith Lawrence had an interesting piece in the Sunday Messenger-Inquirer about many Baby Boomer returning to Owensboro.  The following is an excerpt of the economic development benefits.   To access the entire story visit

Local officials are hoping the backward migration will pick up steam as baby boomers age.  In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau says, there were 3,921 Daviess Countians age 60 to 64.  By 2008, the census estimates, there were 4,919.  A decade ago, the census counted 6,701 people in the 65 to 74 bracket.
Eight years later, it estimated 7,007 in that category.  
Part of the increase is just people who have lived in Owensboro for years growing older.  But part is the first wave of baby boomer exports coming home.

"We want to look at that market," Nick Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp., said recently. "They bring a nest egg, Medicare payments and a disposable income."

"Retirees who move to the community are a form of economic development," said Jody Wassmer, president of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce. "They bring perhaps a pension or retirement savings with them and that's new money coming into the community."

"Kentucky is going to be getting a lot of retirees from the rust belt states who want four seasons, but not quite as cold winters," Brake said.

Brake said Owensboro's amenities include the new hospital being planned for Owensboro's east side, a good health care system, a low cost of living and cheaper real estate than many cities.

"Many retirees make good part-time employees because they have a good work ethic," Wassmer said. "Owensboro is attractive to them because of the low crime rate, low cost of living and access to quality health care."

Kentucky lets people who are 65 and older -- or who are disabled -- deduct $33,700 from the value of their home for tax purposes as an incentive to keep people in the state when they retire.

"Retirees want a vibrant quality of life and higher education where they can take classes at reduced prices," Brake said. "Our low crime rate is a big plus," he said.

He said, "We're exploring targeting military retirees since we're close to both Fort Campbell and Fort Knox. One of our marketing techniques for the future will be recruiting people, not just companies."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Own Your Own Business” workshop provides the basics for prospective entrepreneurs

The Owensboro chapter of SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) and the eMERGING VENTURES Center for Innovation are sponsoring a two-night workshop called “Owning Your Own Business” on Monday,
March  29th and Tuesday, March 30th.  The workshop is a great opportunity for anyone interested in starting a business.  Key subjects to be covered include licensing and permitting requirements, legal issues, accounting and
financial matters, and insurance needs.  Preparing a business plan and discovering the personal factors that one should consider before starting a business will also be covered. "Social Networking" as a part of a marketing plan also will be discussed.

All topics will be taught by local professionals using the SCORE curriculum which has helped thousands of start-up businesses across the United States.  SCORE has 389 chapters in locations throughout the U.S. with 10,500 volunteers nationwide.  SCORE was founded in 1964 and is a partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The workshop will start at 6:00 p.m. on both evenings and will be held at the Greater Owensboro Commerce Center at 200 E. 3rd Street (corner of 3rd Street and J.R. Miller Blvd.) in Owensboro.  Registration is required and should be made by calling the Emerging Ventures Center at 270 663 1050.  There is a fee of $40 per person or $30 per person if pre-registered.  Spouses and partners may attend for half-price. Limit of 16 participants.

Contact The Emerging Ventures Center for Innovation at 270 663 1050 for more information.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

3/50 Project Formula for Local Retail Success

The 3/50 Project supports independent, locally owned businesses by inspiring consumer loyalty to the storefronts that directly fund their communities.   

The simple formula works like this..

Think of three businesses you'd miss if they went away. Stop in. Say hello. Pick up a little something that makes you smile. That's what keeps them around, after all.

Pick 3. Spend 50. Save your local economy.

Retail consultant and blogger Cinda Baxter put the idea out there last March with a free flyer for businesses to give to customers, and then followed it up with a Web site,

In the first seven days, 7,500 people found the site. Now, community groups across the country have joined.

There certainly is something to this concept from a local economic development perspective.  The recent study Thinking Outside the Box: A Report on Independent Merchants and the New Orleans Economy indicate that local retailers have a greater impact on regional economies.  According to the study, when compared to leading chain competitors on a per square foot basis, local retailers:
  • generate twice the annual sales;
  • recirculate revenue within the local economy at twice the rate;
  • have four times the economic impact in terms of wages, profits, procurement of goods and services and charitable giving.  
The study indicated that local merchants on average recirculate money through the local economy at a rate of $188 per square foot compared to $45 per square foot for a typical leading chain retail store.  

These results are not an indictment of big box national retail chains and the roll they play in the overall quality of life of regions in providing in-demand nationally branded goods at low prices.  

But efforts such as 3/50 show how a focus on local, independent retailers play a vitally important roll in regional economic development and in efforts to promote the unique character of a local retail community. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

EDC and Chamber Heads visit Washington DC with Tri-State Economic Leaders

Economic development leaders from the Tri-State traveled this week to Washington, D.C. to discuss carbon legislation, more commonly known as cap and trade, as well as critical transportation issues, including the continued funding of I-69, with congressional leaders from Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois.  GO-EDC President Nick Brake and Chamber of Commerce Jody Wassmer joined chamber of commerce and economic development agency heads from Evansville, Henderson, northwest Kentucky, and southeastern Illinois for the visit.

“Cap and trade legislation imposes potentially significant tax burdens on local energy-intensive industries, especially the aluminum industry, which is highly concentrated in the Tri-State region,” said Brake.  "Members of Congress from our three states are working together to not only defeat cap and trade, but to keep the EPA from regulating CO2 emissions that would negatively impact local industries."  

The group also met with staffers from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce working on the cap and trade legislation.  Regional transportation priorities discussed during the trip included the continued funding of I-69 in Indiana and Kentucky; and, the conversion of U.S. Highway 50 to four-lanes in Southeastern Illinois connecting to I-69 to I-57 in central Illinois. 

"Continued progress for I-69 in both Kentucky and Indiana will require significant federal support," said Wassmer.  "We heard strong support for I-69 from the Congressional delegation from all three states."

During the 2-day Capitol Hill visit, the group had meetings with members of Congress and staff, including Dick Durbin (IL) Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (KY), the Senate's top ranking Republican, and Richard Lugar, Indiana’s senior Senator. Additionally, the group met with Representatives Brad Ellsworth (IN), Ed Whitfield (KY), Brett Guthrie (KY), John Shimkus (IL), and Tim Johnson (IL).  

“All the legislators we visited were impressed by the cooperative nature of our Tri-State delegation,” said Brad Schneider, President of the Henderson/Henderson County Chamber of Commerce. “Regionalism definitely registers on Capitol Hill.”

"We delivered a powerful message about how our region works together," said Matt Meadors, President and CEO of the Southwest Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to Brake and Wassmer, members of the Tri-State delegation include: Matt Meadors, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana; Greg Wathen, President and CEO of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana; Kevin Sheilley, President and CEO of Northwest Kentucky Forward; Brad Schneider, President of the Henderson/ Henderson County Chamber of Commerce; and Brandi Stennent, Executive Director of the Richland County, Illinois Development Corp.

The visit to Washington by the Tri-State delegation is an outgrowth of the partnership created with the Regional Economic Summit, a gathering of economic leaders from a 26 county region of southwest Indiana, southeastern Illinois and northwest Kentucky in November 2008.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Owensboro Workforce Programs in Health Care Showcased Nationally

Owensboro's efforts to prepare a workforce for the growing health care industry was showcased at a national gathering of workforce and economic development leaders from 20 states and the District of Columbia.  The Owensboro Community and Technical College is one of five colleges nationally to receive grant funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and identified as a "leadership college" in the Jobs for the Future initiative.  Much of this leadership has been focused on creating a highly skilled workforce in the health care industry.

As the nation's population ages and grows more diverse and as the demand for health care increases, the region will need a strong system for developing both human resources and innovative approaches to learning.  Direct care workers, such as nurse assistants, nurse aides and home health workers, will constitute one of the largest and fastest growing workforces in the region, particularly to low income wage earners and young people entering the workforce.  The demand will also continue to be great for nurses, health information technology workers, and public health workers.

Considering the Greater Owensboro region has 30 percent more people over age 65 than the national average, partnerships between OCTC and the Owensboro Medical Health System will be critical for our region to meet these demands.   The newly announced Greater Owensboro Academy Life Sciences, which will allow students from regional high schools begin many health care programs while they are in high school, will be critical in helping meet the demand for entry level positions.  

Visit the Jobs for the Future website for more information about these programs: or for information about OCTC's role as a leadership college in Breaking Through.

Monday, March 1, 2010

"Great Reset" will Result in Higher Rates of Unemployment; Prospects for Job Recovery in Owensboro Better

Two recent article about national levels of unemployment paint a troubling picture about the scarcity of jobs in the post recession period that economic development expert Richard Florida calls the "Great Reset."

The first, in the Sunday, February 21 edition of the New York Times, Peter Goodman shared the views of many economists that say the basic functioning of the American economy has changed in ways that make jobs scarce-- particularly for older, less educated people with a high school education or less.  Large companies are finding ways to cut payroll costs through increased automation or off shoring to low cost countries. The US has cut 5.6 million manufacturing jobs since 2000.  Click here to read the full Times article.

The second article, by Don Peck in this month's edition of the Atlantic Monthly, also discusses the long-term transformation that the economy is undergoing as a result of this recession.  Economists such as Nobel Laureates Paul Krugman, Edmund Phelps and Moody's Mark Zandi  predict  that the unemployment rate will be permanently higher, or at least higher for the foreseeable future.  Phelps,  in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, believes the new "natural rate" of unemployment is likely to be between 6.5 and 7.5 percent.

Economists estimate that if the US economy is to return to five percent unemployment over 10 million jobs will have to be created.  To do its part the Owensboro MSA will have to regain around 1,100 jobs to return regional unemployment to pre-recessions levels around 5.7 percent.  The December unemployment rate in the Owensboro metro was 9.1 percent, compared to 9.7 percent nationally.   Prospects for job recovery in Owensboro are greater than many parts of the nation due to many of the pending projects such as the new hospital, hotel, and interstate connector.  Click here to read the Atlantic Monthly article.