Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Community Campus Engineering Academy excites Students

Gorged by a golf ball and soaring over the moon, the bespeckled, fist-size Chick-fil-A cow landed with a thud against the window in Apollo High School’s front lobby.

“Not a bad shot,” mused Landon Meserve, squatting behind his homemade catapult on Friday. “It’s all about the distance from the arm to this crossbar, here,” he said, pointing to a complicated maze of screws, rope, wood and bungee cords.

Meserve is one of 24 regional students in Daviess County Public School’s Project Lead the Way, a national curriculum marrying reality-based college courses with local, hands-on instruction. Students from DCPS, Owensboro, Trinity and Owensboro Catholic high schools are dropped off at, drive or are bused to Apollo’s campus for first period before joining their home schools the rest of the day.

Technology educators Aaron Yeiser and Steven May challenged the teens to calculate distance, displacement, speed, velocity and acceleration from data and to design, build and test a vehicle that stores and releases potential energy for propulsion — all in two weeks’ time.

“We do a version of the competition every year,” May said. “This year, we thought of using cows and getting corporate sponsorship, and it worked out.”

Chick-fil-A sent out their mascot and donated small, stuffed cows for the event, while Mays and fellow teachers honored students with the farthest overall shot and gave points for a series of 10 accuracy shots.

No slingshots were allowed, Mays said, and students only got five practice shots. They got 25 points to shoot the cow over the hand-painted, 6-foot-tall moon; lesser points for landing in one of three 5-gallon buckets; and 10 points per pin for cow bowling. The points doubled for bowling, he said, if students got a strike.

Meserve aimed, pulling back four and a half inches — 10 feet worth of distance —- at a time. He missed, and then a strike. He and his OHS partner, Buxton Johnson, took first with 375 points, Catholic High junior Kali Paul rounded out the bottom with only 70 points.

“Ours is tiny, so it’s like the underdog,” Paul said, pointing to her own, cow-painted creation, at least two feet shorter than Meserve’s. “We didn’t do so well. My catapult is going to Chick-fil-A, and it’s going to retire there.”

Paul and her partner make up a growing minority of women interested in engineering, a statistic college and career readiness coordinator Marcia Carpenter said they’re working to overcome.

“Right now, the national average is 11 percent, and we have 7,” she said, “but hopefully programs like Project Lead the Way will help that.”

Megan Harris, 691-7302, mharris@messenger-inquirer.com

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Owensboro EDC and Chamber pass Joint Resolution on the Work Ready Community effort

The boards of directors of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp and Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce passed a joint resolution supporting the application that Owensboro-Daviess County be considered a "Work Ready Community."

The Work Ready Community program was launched by Governor Beshear and the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board (K-WIB)in August of this year. The Owensboro application, which was submitted last week, will be among the first applications considered.

The new program is designed to transform local economies and give counties a competitive advantage in attracting new businesses and jobs.

“We have business and industry in Kentucky that require a skilled workforce. This program provides us with a way to prove it, county by county,” said Gov. Steve Beshear in August. “In addition, the program promotes collaboration among key community stakeholders including education, economic development, elected officials, employers, workforce agencies and community organizations as they work toward common community goals.”

To earn certification, counties will have to meet established criteria in six specific areas. Highlights of the Owensboro application include the following:

· high school graduation rate- Work Ready standard: 82.32%, Owensboro region: 83%;
· National Career Readiness Certificate holders- Work Ready standard: plan to raise to 15% in three years, Owensboro: current 8% with plan to grow to 15%;
· educational attainment (2 and 4-year degree rate)- Work Ready standard: 25%, Owensboro: 32%;
· soft skills development- Work Ready standard: plan to address, Owensboro: a plan is in place;
· digital literacy (percent household with broadband available)- Work Ready standard: 90%, Owensboro: 96%.

The regional Work Ready Community effort was co-chaired by Helen Mounjoy and Judge Al Mattingly in conjunction with the EDC. The K-WIB will consider the application at their February meeting.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Study: Owensboro a high performing small metro

A new U.S. jobs growth report lists Owensboro as a “high performance” small metro based on summer employment trend data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Headlight, LLC, which provides economic and workforce development companies with data and software systems, conducted the analysis.

Owensboro’s annualized growth from June to September was 5.8 percent, and its actual growth was 1.4 percent.

The study also provides a look at how close cities are to their employment status in December 2007 — the start of the recession. Owensboro has a 1.9 percent deficit. This data indicates it would take Owensboro 17 months to get back to the December 2007 employment level.

“Any time you look at comparable data to see where other communities like ours are, and we’re in the top quartile, that’s good,” said Nick Brake, president and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation. “And any time someone labels you a high-performing metro, it’s a good thing. It shows we have growth, actual and projected.”

The report analyzed 386 metros — 269 were categorized as small. Owensboro fit the criteria of a “micropolitan” area as defined by the BLS. This group has an average population of 50,000-60,000 but can be as high as 195,000. And they are typically single-county “ex-urbs” that can be located close to large metros.

The report is organized by population size.

Only a couple of other Kentucky metros show up in the study.

Louisville-Jefferson County is a “high performance” metro in the medium category for summer 2011. It’s annualized growth was 4.7 percent; actual growth 1.2 percent. It has a greater deficit from -- or further to go to get back to -- the prerecession employment level than Owensboro does. Its rate is -3.4 percent, meaning it could take 37 months to reach that December 2007 point.

The conversion of the job deficit data into “months remaining” to reach the prerecession rate does not suggest that the recovery will take this long, the study states. It is another data point of reference on the speed of the recovery.

The study also shows that 45 percent of the small metros still were in crisis during the summer. And 41 percent of medium and 35 percent of large metros also showed negative job growth.

Elizabethtown ranked in the bottom 5 percent showing -2.9 percent actual job growth.

“That’s almost half the small cities that were in recession this summer,” Brake said. “If you look at the average job growth by metro size, the top 25 percent are doing pretty well, and the bottom are doing really poorly.”

The report indicates that Owensboro has a good strategy in diversifying its economy and pursuing different options for growth including “quality of place and quality of life,” Brake said.

Not surprising, Brake said, is that it also shows a corollary -- many cities in the top 25 are college cities or are focused on quality of place or quality of life issues.

“They’re focused on creating a strong workforce, attracting young people and attracting entrepreneurs,” he said. “Anything we can do to focus on aligning with this sector is important.”

“While growth has appeared slow but steady for the nation, the recovery has been far from uniform across metros in the U.S.,” the study synopsis states.

The public release about Headlight’s growth report is at http://www.headlightllc.com/bestsummer2011/.

Joy Campbell, 691-7299, jcampbell@messenger-inquirer.com

Friday, November 4, 2011

Riverfront Crossings

Owensboro Downtown Waterfront Hotel

Two years ago, this community said goodbye to the storied Executive Inn. This landmark hotel hosted scores of events, conventions, concerts, and helped define Owensboro as a premiere destination city in our Commonwealth. The City of Owensboro and the Daviess County Fiscal Court took a monumental step forward in 2009 with the ratification of the Downtown Placemaking Initiative. One of the key components of that plan involved the construction of a new hotel in conjunction with an indoor Convention/Events center.
At the Owensboro Chamber of Commerce Rooster Booster Breakfast this week, developer Malcolm Bryant unveiled his design for the proposed 151-room Hampton Inn & Suites. The hotel will be the only LEED-certified hotel in Kentucky, and will also include a full-service restaurant, state-of-the-art meeting rooms, bridge connection to the new 169,000 sq ft Convention/Events Center, and retail and cafe space that will complement the pedestrian and new urban feel of our revitalized downtown.

This is truly a landmark day for Owensboro! Congratulations to the Malcolm Bryant Corporation, the City of Owensboro, and the scores of others who are taking this giant leap forward!

Owensboro-Daviess Co. the next Silicon Valley?

Business Insider magazine has put Daviess County on a 20 county list that could be the next Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley sits in Northern California. It's where Apple computers were born.

"Silicon Valley is really the hub of innovation for the United States," says Madison Silvert of EDC.

What does Owensboro have to do with silicon valley?

Business experts say in the future, Owensboro could be the next Silicon Valley for several reasons.

"They have access to higher education, they have an innovative spirit, they're nice communities, moderately sized. Quality of life is one of those things that you absolutely have to have to be able to attract the talent that is necessary to promote high-tech growth," Silvert says.

Along with lower than average unemployment rates, Hollison Technologies CEO Kevin Humphrey says Owensboro's Center for Business and Research is a big reason why he thinks Owensboro made Business Insider's cut.

"Often entrepreneurs are people with good ideas. May not be um well suited to run their own business yet and need guidance in places and that being available is a wonderful tool."

"We're creating a bio-technology sector here in food and medical in pharmaceuticals specifically plant made pharmaceuticals where you can see some of the advancements that could be made in this kind of high tech environment. The seeds have been planted," Silvert says.

Daviess County was the only county in Kentucky that made business insider's list.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Interstate 69 opens in Kentucky

Members of the Indiana Department of Transportation Interstate 69 project team joined Kentucky transportation officials Tuesday to celebrate and learn more about their successful efforts to extend the interstate highway through Kentucky.

I-69 signage is now being installed along 55 miles of Interstate 24 and the Wendell Ford/Western Kentucky Parkway, which is being upgraded to interstate standards.

"Indiana congratulates Kentucky on receiving federal approval to upgrade some of their existing parkways for I-69," said Samuel Sarvis, Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) deputy commissioner for major program management. "Kentucky's efforts show Indiana ways the existing State Road 37 might be transformed into I-69 Sections 5 and 6."

Stretching from Texas to Michigan, I-69 has been designated by Congress as a High Priority Corridor of National Significance and one of six "Corridors of the Future." I-69 construction is regarded as a key component to the future economic vitality of southwestern Indiana and will provide necessary connectivity with the rest of the state and the nation.

The I-69 corridor from Evansville to Indianapolis was approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in March 2004, based on the Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Study released in December 2003, which divided the 142 miles into six independent sections. Sixty-five miles of Sections 1, 2 and 3 are currently under construction and scheduled to open at the end of 2012.

In September, FHWA approved the route for 27 miles of Section 4 between Crane and the existing limited-access S.R. 37 south of Bloomington. Section 4 is scheduled to open to traffic by the end of 2014, and bids are being opened for the first construction contract this fall.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Owensboro Unemployment at Lowest Level since 2008

Daviess County’s unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in August — the lowest it’s been since the beginning of the Great Recession.

The last time the county saw a rate lower than 8 percent — a figure once considered high — was nearly three years ago, in December 2008, when it was at 7.1 percent.

Local unemployment stood at 9 percent in both July 2011 and August 2010, the numbers released by the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training show.

“We’re not where we’d like to be, but the (new) number is reflective of some positive economic projects we’ve had over the past couple of years,” Nick Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp., said Monday.

The new numbers show that 1,100 more people — 45,477 — are working here today than in December 2008.

But the number of people in the work force has also grown — by 1,493 people to 49,282.

The state lists 3,805 people as unemployed in the county today, up 393 from December 2008.

Brake said U.S. Bank Home Mortgage has hired several hundred people in the past year and the hospital continues to add workers.

And, he said, “Our strategy supporting entrepreneurship is paying off as some of the smaller companies are hiring now too. I still have concerns about the possibility of a double-dip recession, but I’m optimistic. This is a very strong sign of economic activity in the community.”

Daviess’ 7.7 percent rate was matched by both Hancock and Ohio counties in August.

Hancock’s unemployment rate was 6.8 percent in December 2008. It hit 14.8 percent six months later.

But the jobless rate there has been dropping steadily in recent months as many of the industries began calling back workers who had been laid off.

“We’re heavy in manufacturing over here,” said Mike Baker, executive director of the Hancock County Industrial Foundation. “All of our plants are flush right now. There haven’t been any expansions or hirings, but they’re in good shape. We’ve also seen an uptick in hiring of temporary workers.”

But he said there’s a national shortage of electricians, electrical contractors and mechanics that will “reach epidemic levels within three years.”

If people are looking for careers, those are good fields to consider, Baker said.

The statewide unemployment rate for August was 9.1 percent — down from 9.7 percent in July and 10.1 percent in August 2010.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Owensboro Chooses Cape Air St. Louis Flights for Air Service

A panel choosing a carrier for air service at the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport has selected Cape Air, a Hyannis, Mass., airline and sent that recommendation on to federal regulators.

The U.S. Department of Transportation will consider the panel's choice when it makes a final selection for a commuter airline serving Owensboro, The Messenger-Inquirer reported (http://bit.ly/ra8Por).

Cape Air proposed three daily flights to and from St. Louis. The fare will be $49 including fees and taxes and no additional cost for baggage.

KentuckySkies, a subsidiary of Pacific Wings, which flew from Owensboro to Nashville, informed the airport board in July that it would end the service Sept. 30.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Daviess County Economic Development Incentive Application on GO-EDC Website

The application for the Daviess County Economic Development Fund is now available on the GO-EDC website.  The $1 million fund was created by the Daviess County Fiscal Court earlier in the year to promote economic development and job creation in Daviess County.  The application is available at http://edc.owensboro.com/_documents/EconomicDevelopmentFundApplication.pdf

Friday, September 2, 2011

Achieving the "Bilbao Effect" in Owensboro

The design of the Owensboro Event Center
It has been a big week in Owensboro! The design, size and scope of the Owensboro Events Center has been approved. How important is the design of these amenities to the overall success of revitalizing the downtown and the overall region?

Just ask the once declining city of Bilbao, Spain. This sleepy, seaside, former industrial city in Northern Spain gets a new museum housed in a building already called--on its completion at the end of the 20th century--the most important building of the 21st. The museum is Frank Gehry's Guggenheim. Virtually overnight, the small city became one of the most popular destinations in Europe. From all reports, Bilbao is rapidly metamorphosing from a sort of one-hit wonder to a genuinely vibrant city with restaurants, nightlife, theatre, and art. Gehry's radical, shimmering metal building has become a source of immense civic pride.

Bilbao Museum in Spain
Called the "Bilbao Effect," great architecture should be the centerpiece of urban space. Whether religious, governmental, commercial, or cultural, buildings define their cities. This is our chance to have a world class building on the world class river that runs through this city. Given the strength of the proposals and the architectural talent from around the country interested in the project-- world class is possible. Such a "Bilbao effect" could benefit the region culturally and economically for a long time to come.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Louisville- Lexington Super Region Partnership Good Lesson for Owensboro

Back in the early days of the commonwealth, Lexington and Louisville were about as different as two cities could be.

The Bluegrass metropolis, for a time the largest city west of the Alleghenies, fancied itself an extension of Virginia. Its beau ideal, Henry Clay, had traveled west from Virginia, as had many of the early residents of the town. It boasted elegant streets and spacious homes.

A hundred miles west on the Ohio River, Louisville's origins were far different. The river city was settled by hardy pioneers, many of whom came from the East and were dissatisfied with their lot in life there. Always a bit rowdy, known for its brothels and barrooms, Louisville grew because of its location, soon outpacing Lexington in both wealth and population.

Fast forward to 2011, with two new leaders, both young entrepreneurs interested in setting a new course in partnership, not in competition. Together, they creatively sought support from the Brookings Institution to do a study that explores how to build the corridor between the two cities (which also includes the capital city, Frankfort) to the advantage of both.

The economic development impact of this approach will be felt all around the Commonwealth. What can Owensboro learn from this initiative? Would a similar super regional arrangement with Evansville or Bowling Green provide similar benefit to this region and part of the state?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Governor Beshear Announces Launch of Work Ready Communities Certification

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 16, 2011) – Thanks to the launch of Work Ready Communities by the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board (KWIB) today, Governor Beshear announced today that Kentucky counties can now be certified as “work ready” based on the quality of their labor force.

The new program is designed to transform local economies and give counties a competitive advantage in attracting new businesses and jobs.

“We have business and industry in Kentucky that require a skilled workforce. This program provides us with a way to prove it, county by county,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “In addition, the program promotes collaboration among key community stakeholders including education, economic development, elected officials, employers, workforce agencies and community organizations as they work toward common community goals.”

Earning Certified Work Ready Community status assures that local workforces have the talent necessary to staff existing jobs and to master the innovative technologies new jobs will require in the future.

Each community must gather local support and commitment and apply for the Work Ready Community designation. To earn certification, counties will have to meet established criteria in six specific areas:
· high school graduation rate,
· National Career Readiness Certificate holders,
· demonstrated community commitment,
· educational attainment,
· soft skills development, and
· digital literacy.

“The community experience of the application process is a valuable component of achieving Work Ready status,” said Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Joseph U. Meyer. “As a state, we must focus on the importance of setting workforce and economic development goals, and this program allows us to develop a framework and work together as communities toward those goals.”

Communities close to meeting the criteria will be awarded the distinguished designation of Work Ready Community in Progress. To achieve this status, a county must present a viable plan to meet all of the criteria within three years. This designation demonstrates that a community is making strides and working with its business community to improve.

“We understand that achieving Work Ready status may be difficult, but the bar must be set high for the certification to have meaning to employers,” said Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Larry Hayes. “Work Ready status shows employers and prospective employers that a county has the talented workforce that business demands – a sustainable pipeline that delivers the right workers with the right skills at the right time.”

Applications will be reviewed by a panel appointed by the KWIB. That panel will then recommend certification by the board for those counties that meet the criteria. The panel will meet three times per year and applications may be submitted at any time of the year.

For more information about the criteria and how to apply for certification, go to http://kwib.ky.gov/workreadycommunity.htm

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Governor Beshear Announces Expansion of Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport

OWENSBORO, Ky. (Aug. 11, 2011) – Governor Steve Beshear today joined community and airport leaders from the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport (OWB) to announce the airport will undergo an expansion of its terminal. The expansion will significantly increase the size of the waiting area, along with the baggage handling and pick-up areas. The Airport, local Transportation Security Administration and the Airport’s Fixed Base Operator are adding three full-time and several part-time positions because of the terminal expansion and additional flights.

“The Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport continues to experience significant growth, which is good for both economic development and tourism,” said Gov. Beshear. “The Commonwealth is proud to partner with community and airport officials to make further enhancements that will not only improve the terminal, but will create jobs for Kentuckians.”

Since the time of the airport’s 1993 Master Plan Update, more than $26 million in federal, state and local funds have been invested in improving OWB’s airfield infrastructure. Several runways have been extended and the airport now boasts the third longest runway in Kentucky.

The improved airfield was critical to OWB’s attraction of Allegiant Airlines in February 2009, which offers flights to and from Orlando, Fla. Allegiant recently announced a new passenger service from OWB to Las Vegas, NV beginning in October.

“The Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport is becoming the new front door for our region. This terminal expansion will be noticed by visitors arriving and departing Owensboro – Daviess Co. and as such, will be a direct reflection on the immediate region,” said Ray Asmar, Chairman of the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport Board of Directors. “A mile of highway will take you a mile, but, a mile of runway will take you anywhere!”

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved the airport for a no-interest loan to help facilitate the improvements, which will have a positive impact on economic development. The loan will be repaid through entitlement proceeds received from the Federal Aviation Administration.

In addition, the Department for Local Government awarded $500,000 in multi-county coal severance funds to Daviess and Ohio counties in effort to help complete the terminal expansion and improvement project at OWB. Multi-County Local Government Economic Development Funds (LGEDF)/Coal Severance Funds are a portion of coal severance taxes set aside to fund projects benefiting two or more coal-producing counties.

“This airport explansion could not have come at a better time as the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport has just been awarded an additional jet service route,” said Rep. Tommy Tompson, of Owensboro. “The expansion will alllow our airport to better serve the needs of its customers and is a great investment. I want to thank Governor Beshear for his continued support of our community and for his leadership, and I want to thank our local leaders for moving this project from the drawing board to reality.”

Friday, August 5, 2011

Kentucky Export Initiative holding free session to assist Owensboro area businesses with exporting

The Kentucky Export Initiative, scheduled for September 13 at GRADD, will provide regional businesses with an introduction to exporting.

The day-long seminar will cover topics such as finding the right partner markets, legal and financial considerations, and logistics of exporting goods to international markets.

Visit www.kyexports.com to register or call Jeanine Duncliffe at 502.564.7140.  There is no cost, but space is limited and registration is required.

The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce, GRADD, the Small Business Development Center, and Northwest Kentucky Forward are among the sponsors of the event.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Allegiant Air to fly direct from Owensboro to Las Vegas

Allegiant Air confirmed Thursday that it will add nonstop jet service between Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport and Las Vegas starting Oct. 14. The announcement came at a 10 a.m. news conference. The introductory fare for Owensboro travelers is $89.99. The Las Vegas flights will be on Mondays and Fridays. Departure time from Owensboro is 12:20 p.m. with arrival in Las Vegas at 2:10 p.m. for about a 4-hour flight with the time zone changes. The Las Vegas-based carrier already flies nonstop between Owensboro and Orlando. The success of those flights was a primary factor in the company’s decision to add another route, a company spokesperson said.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hispanics playing a large role in Owensboro's growth

The Regional Economist, a quarterly publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, has analyzed the role of Hispanics in population growth of metropolitan areas in the seven state Eighth Federal Reserve Bank district based in St. Louis.

Owensboro is one of two metros identified where Hispanic population growth accounted for the largest share of population growth over the past ten years, according to the 2010 Census.  From 2000 to 2010, nearly a quarter (1.6 percent overall) of Owensboro's 4.4 percent growth came from the Hispanic population.  Non-Hispanic white population growth constituted 1.2 percent of the 4.4 percent growth in the Owensboro MSA during this period.  This growth closely resembled the  trend of Hispanic growth nationwide.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Forbes: Owensboro rank among best small places for business and careers

Owensboro made the latest Forbes ranking of best small places for business and careers.

The Owensboro MSA ranked number 58 on the list of top 100 small metropolitan regions.

“Forbes is a very credible publication read in the world of business,” said EDC President Nick Brake. “That kind of exposure is strong recognition of the positive things going on in our region.”

Owensboro, KY - #58 Best Small Places for Business and Careers


Friday, July 29, 2011

Owensboro continues to post strong job growth numbers

The Owensboro Metropolitan Area continues to post strong employment numbers based on the latest figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The Owensboro area had 1,275 more jobs and 1,162 more people in the regional labor force this year compared to the same time last year.

EDC President Nick Brake attributes this growth to expansions at several area manufacturing facilities as well as the 500 job expansion at US Bank Home Mortgage.  He also indicated that construction projects such as the new hospital, road projects, and downtown are fueling the healthly job numbers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Owensboro entrepreneurs recognized

In this globally competitive marketplace, finding your niche is of vital importance. Owensboro natives and entrepreneurs Carter Gaddis and Neel Ford saw an opportunity and went for it. What they and their partners have created, the Sleeve360, allows iPad users to comfortably "wear" their iPad via a rear support strap that also allows the iPad to fully rotate for presentation, demonstration, or screen sharing. The applications are endless, but it is easy to see how such an innovation could be useful to the hospitality, restaurant and medical industries.

Now, their latest version for the iPad2 has been reviewed by one of the best Apple product websites out there, TUAW (the unauthorized apple weblog). In the website's ongoing "smackdown" series, which pits similar products against each other, TUAW proclaims the Sleeve360 as the "hands down" winner, stating that the "case is much easier to put on and take off, the rotation mechanism can be easily removed, and it the case really does work well as a stand in either portrait or landscape mode," and that it is "much more comfortable to wear." The full review can be read at http://www.tuaw.com/2011/07/19/sleeve360-and-handstand-for-ipad-2-smackdown-of-the-rotating-ip/

Innovation is everywhere in this town, and it is precisely this type of fresh, global product, that will keep Owensboro competitive for years to come.

For more information on the Sleeve360, or to place an order, visit www.sleeve360.com.

Citistates report reveals strengths and challenges

July 19--"I'm bullish on Owensboro," Keith Schneider told a group of about 50 people who came out to hear the first report from "What's Done, What's Next: A Civic Pact" on Wednesday at Owensboro Community & Technical College.

"I'm more bullish on Owensboro than Owensborans are," he said. "But I'm not blind. People here are having a tough time" financially.

For a city trying to compete worldwide for investment, Schneider said Owensboro is awfully white.

"You need more Jewish people, more Asians and more gays," he said.

In 1991, John Hager, then owner and publisher of the Messenger-Inquirer, brought syndicated columnist Neal Peirce to town to take an in-depth look at the community.

This year, Hager's Public Life Foundation of Owensboro has brought The Citistates Group, a network of journalists, speakers and civic leaders, to town to study how much the community has changed and in what directions it needs to go.

Schneider, a special correspondent for the New York Times since 1981, presented the report Monday on how the community has changed in the past two decades.

He said he's planning a story for the New York Times on Owensboro's downtown development and is pitching a story to his editors about the Community Campus program.

Owensboro, Schneider said, "is in a good position (for the future), but you and the rest of America need to be in a better position."

The United States, he said, "doesn't set the velocity of change in the 21st century. China does."

Having a lot of downtown on-street parking "is not a strength," Schneider said. "And you've got lots of parking." 'The city's population grew by 6.9 percent over the past 20 years, he said. The county grew by 10.9 percent, the state by 17.7 percent and the nation by 24.1 percent.

Significant problem with population

"You've got a significant problem with your population," Schneider said.

"The whole country is struggling to figure out what normal is now," Curtis Johnson, Citistates' CEO, told the crowd. "The long period of American exceptionalism is now at an end."

Gabrielle Gray, executive director of the International Bluegrass Music Museum, said fans attending ROMP last month told her, "We are the coolest place in Kentucky."

But Owensboro is off the beaten path and has to be a destination, she said.

Hugh Haydon, chairman of Kentucky BioProcessing, was head of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. and president and chief executive officer of what is now the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce at different times in the two decades.

At one time, he said, the community touted itself as a place with cheap electricity and cheap labor.

But, he said, "at some point, there was a recognition that even if we're successful, we lose."

Haydon said that led to a strategy of trying to create better paying jobs in the community.

"It's more important," he said, "to attract young people to a community than it is to keep your own."

"One of the things that surprised me was the disgruntlement about Owensboro," Schneider said. "Part of it is that we're a grumpy nation at the moment."

Madison Silvert, executive vice president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp., said part of the problem is "a narrow world view" among some people in the community.

Scheider told the crowd that "the quality of your leadership is very good."

The report notes the development of a new $385 million medical center east of Owensboro and the growth of U.S. Bank Home Mortgage to 1,600 employees by fall

"Last year, the city and county added 1,100 new jobs, a 2.3 percent increase that led all Kentucky metropolitan areas in job growth," it said.

Challenges lie ahead

But it also noted challenges that lie ahead.

More than 80 percent of adults in the region are not college graduates.

"Median household incomes -- $43,000 last year -- are higher than the Kentucky median income, but...are still not high enough to provide adequate support for a family," the report said.

It found that 15.2 percent of Daviess Countians live in poverty. That's lower than the state rate but 6 percent higher than the national average.

The county's lack of diversity -- more than 90 percent of Daviess Countians are white -- "could hurt Owensboro's competitiveness in encouraging investments from overseas and especially from China, the fastest growing industrial economy in the world," the report said.

It adds that "almost everyone a visitor meets in town either has a college-educated son or daughter or knows someone with a high-achieving son or daughter, that couldn't find a well-paying job in Owensboro."

Another challenge, the report said, is that "five of Daviess County's top ten employers are public institutions and account for over 4,200 well-paying jobs with benefits."

It adds, "It's likely that sector will steadily shrink over the next generation....(T)he emerging and possibly permanent economy will also put a cash collar around organizations like OMHS and River Valley Behavioral Health."

But the report notes that Owensboro has lost only 5.3 percent of its manufacturing jobs in the past two decades, when other communities were losing far more.

And it pointed out that the new Community Campus offers a curriculum and training program to match high school students with job training and future employment in local businesses.

The second and third reports on the community are scheduled for August and September.

The report is available at www.civicpact.org.

Keith Lawrence, 691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Owensboro issues RFP for Riverfront Crossings

The City of Owensboro has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the development and construction of two mixed-use buildings at Riverfront Crossings in Downtown Owensboro. Conceived as park of the Downtown Placemaking Initiative, Riverfront Crossings—scheduled to open on September 8, 2011—will offer a unique and exciting new downtown destination to compliment and reinforce other major destinations of the new downtown, including the new Riverfront Park with Veterans’ Boulevard linear plaza, the proposed new hotel and Convention Center, and proposed improvements to historic Second Street. Riverfront Crossing is envisioned to be a lively but quaint outdoor entertainment and dining venue with a festive, “alley” look and feel.

Riverfront Crossing incorporates building sites for two new mixed use buildings. The first, SITE A, also known as the “Lofts at the Crossing” is located directly across the street from the new Riverfront Park and fountain and has a north-south orientation. The second, SITE B, is also known as “The Crossing Pub”, is intended to be the site of a pub or restaurant. The building site runs east-west and fronts both on St. Ann Street and on the central plaza of The Crossing adjacent to the Crossing’s signature tower.

All firms that submit their qualifications for considerations shall be reviewed and ranked based on the following criteria: 1) Firm/Team experience with similar projects; 2) Qualifications of the project team; 3) Cost estimation; 4) Preparation and understanding of the project; 5) Proximity and local participation

The City will hold a pre-submittal meeting regarding this project at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 21, 2011 in Room 406, City Hall, 101 East 4th Street, Owensboro, KY 42303. Specifications for the above are on file and may be obtained from Joey Beatty, Purchasing Manager, City Hall, 101 E 4th Street, Room 119, Owensboro, KY. 42303. Telephone (270) 687-8431. Submittals must be delivered to the City Purchasing Department, 101 E. 4th Street, Rom 119, Owensboro, KY 42303 on or before 4:00 p.m. prevailing local time on Tuesday, August 30, 2011. The City of Owensboro reserves the right to reject any and all submittals and to waive any irregularities in said submittals.

The EDC, city and county are currently implementing a fully funded $140 million Downtown Placemaking Initiative in consultation with Gateway Planning of Ft. Worth TX. The resulting master plan was finalized and adopted by the City of Owensboro and Daviess County in January 2009. A copy of the Placemaking Initiative may be viewed at: http://edc.owensboro.com/downtown/placemaking_initiative.  Visit http://edc.owensboro.com/_documents/CrossingConcept-web.pdf to view the initial design considerations for Riverfront Crossing designed by architect Michael Huston.

OCTC grant will train OMHS staff on electronic medical records

Owensboro Community and Technical College will help train hospital employees on new medical record software.

A $500,000 grant will pay for the partnership and help implement the new technology.

"This is the largest Kentucky Wins award in the Community Technical College System," says OCTC President Dr. Jim Klauber.

Owensboro Medical Health System has invested $55 million to help keep patient's records up to date. They now a new partnership as well.

"With that said, we have an agreement to sign."

State Representative Jim Glenn says OMHS employees will train to use the new Epic software at OCTC.

"Implementation is the most important thing of any technology we have."

So far, nine OMHS clinics actively use the new database. Employees have converted these files into a real time electronic database called Epic.

OMHS CEO Dr. Jeff Barber says patient history will benefit from this transition.

"It gives us a real comprehensive opportunity to look at that patient's history and treat them appropriately in a faster manner and more safer manner."

If patients visit a different clinic, files can be accessed by internet instead of fax machine, and the records are more accurate and have the latest medical history.

Over 3,000 employees will train, and the grant money will pay for the time spent to learn it all over the next eight months.

The whole hospital will implement the new system by December 1st.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Can U.S. Manufacturers Compete With the Chinese?

Ms. Ying-Juan Rogers, Executive Vice President - World Trade Center Kentucky

Recent research by IHS Global Insight reveals that as of 2010, China is producing 19.8 percent of the world’s manufacturing output and, consequently, has become the largest manufacturer in the world, a position that the United States had previously held for almost 110 years. A growing fear of United States manufacturers is that there will be an increase in the number of factories shutting down and jobs moving overseas.

However, the China Federation of Logistics Purchasing Managers Index showed in May that new manufacturing orders in China were declining at a faster pace than the overall economic slowdown, a key indicator that manufacturing activity in China may have already peaked in the current economic cycle.

In this article we will examine the effects of rising labor costs, labor shortage, inflation, and increased energy costs in order to gain a more accurate perspective on the current situation and likely future of the Chinese manufacturing industry.

Rising labor cost

Traditionally, China is seen as both a labor-abundant and low-cost producer, which enables manufacturers to comfortably undercut competitors in production costs. However, this may no longer be the case.

Throughout China, wages are climbing at the rate of 15 to 20 percent a year, and Credit Suisse estimates that they will continue to rise 20 to 30 percent every year for the next three to five years.

According to People’s Daily (March 2011), between 2005 and 2010 the average wage for migrant workers in big cities increased 14.1 percent per year, from approximately $130 to $252 per month. At current rates, China’s wages could double in as few as five years.

Wage rates in Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin are currently only 30 percent cheaper than rates in low-cost U.S. states. Overall, manufacturing in China will only be 10 to 15 percent cheaper than in the U.S.–even before inventory and shipping costs are considered.
Shortage of labor force

China is facing an increasingly acute labor shortage. Some manufacturers, already weeks behind schedule because they cannot find enough workers, are closing down production lines and considering raising prices. There is a strong demand for young workers willing to work long hours and live in dormitories, conditions that older workers, those over forty, are considered unsuited for.

This current shortage is compounded by the fact that the average annual growth rate of China’s working-age population is beginning to slow down. The number of 18-year-old new laborers dropped from 27.9 million in 2002 to 22.5 million in 2010, and it is estimated that it will continue to decrease to 16.6 and 14.8 million respectively in 2015 and 2020.

The drop in the working age population is largely driven by demographic trends and strict family planning. The demographic shift resulting from the one-child policy ultimately serves to reduce the supply of young entry-level workers. Additionally, there has been an increase in the number of young people choosing to attend college rather than opting for minimum-wage factory work.

Although there has been an increase in the number of Chinese young people attending college, there is also a serious shortage of skilled workers in the country. Often this results in massive poaching among rival companies and huge wage increases being offered to workers, which ultimately results in higher costs for the companies.


Recent data from the China National Bureau shows a 5.3 percent increase in their consumer price index in April - a slight easing from March but well above Beijing's official 4 percent target for 2011. This rising inflation within China is driving up the cost of production in China and is also driving up the cost of Chinese goods compared to the rest of the world. Consequently, it is eroding some of China’s formidable advantage in export markets.

Over the past 12 months, the U.S. has witnessed a 2.8 percent increase in the price of goods imported from China.

Energy cost increase

In 2010, the energy-hungry Chinese economy burnt a staggering 3.2 billion tons of coal, which accounts for 70 percent of China’s electricity. The Chinese government has already warned that the country may soon hit peak coal production, which would in turn force greater reliance on costly imports. China’s Electricity Association is warning that there will be the nation’s largest power shortage in history this summer. As many as 20 provinces and territories have already been put on power rationing, including the country’s industrial heartland.

This predicted shortage and power rationig has driven up coal prices. Benchmark power-station coal prices at Qinhuangdao port rose 0.6 percent from the previous week to between $128.03 to $130.34 a metric ton on May 30th, 2011, according to the China Coal Transport and Distribution Association. That is the highest price recorded since October 2008.

The government also raised retail power prices for non-residential users in 15 provinces by about 3 percent this month - the first hike since November 2009. The wholesale prices charged by generators to distributors were also raised an average of 5 percent in three provinces after being pushed up in 12 other provinces in April, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, which sets energy prices in China.

The rationing of power and the rise of energy prices will undoubtedly negatively impact many manufacturing operations in China. Plants will face restricted production capabilities and higher overall costs.


Because of rising labor costs, labor shortage, inflation, and increased energy costs in China, manufacturing companies such as Coach, Inc. have already moved production out of the country, and others are reluctant to begin operations there. Some research-intensive sectors such as pharmaceutical, biotech and other life sciences companies are also reconsidering China. In addition to these reasons, which have resulted in an overall cost increase, some U.S. businesses are hesitant to set up operations in China because of the complexity of the business environment there. Obstacles such as cultural differences, political risks and intellectual property issues have also become serious considerations. Some U.S. corporations feel that domestic facilities are easier to manage and that the abundance of skilled workers is an undeniable advantage.

The stability of U.S. manufacturing is illustrated by research done by Boston Consulting Group which projects "that by 2015, strong productivity and relatively low wages would help the U.S. move ahead of China as a base for making goods which will be sold in North America."

U.S. manufacturers have the advantage of producing goods necessary for information technology and media-related industries, and are the leader in the production of chemicals, aircraft engines, industrial machinery, and military defense. These sectors are designed to produce goods that are vital in a technology-based, globalized economy. China, on the other hand, has a manufacturing base that is much more dependent on cheaper goods in sectors such as textiles, apparel, appliances, and certain commodities.

In the long-run it appears that fears of the dramatic decline of the U.S. manufacturing sector are largely unfounded, and that there is a significant possibility that manufacturing activity in China has peaked in this economic cycle and will actually begin to decline.

Ms. Ying-Juan Rogers
Executive Vice President
World Trade Center Kentucky, 333 West Vine, ste 1600, Lexington, KY 40507
Phone: 859-258-3139, Cell: 859-494-6631

Friday, June 24, 2011

Steve Martin Draws Huge Crowd at Owensboro Bluegrass Festival

The opening session of ROMP: Bluegrass Roots & Branches Festival at Yellow Creek Park, certainly lived up to its billing Thursday night.

The crowd was huge, blanketing the hillside in front of the stage for hundreds of yards in all directions. Even the weather was perfect. And, of course, there was star power in the person of stand-up comedian-actor-author and accomplished musician Steve Martin, who performed with The Steep Canyon Rangers.

Martin led The Steep Canyon Rangers onto the stage shortly after 8 p.m. to a chorus of cheers and applause. They didn’t disappoint, performing tight instrumentals, with Martin mixing sharp skills on the banjo with lots of humor.

“Now I wish I had practiced,” Martin declared as he gazed over the crowd of several thousand fans. “It’s been a longtime dream of mine to play bluegrass music in Owensboro, Kentucky!”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Emerge Owensboro application date fast approaching

Owensboro's leadership program —Emerge Owensboro— is taking applications for the Class of 2012 through July 8th. A joint program of the Chamber and the EDC, Emerge Owensboro is a community immersion program that meets at least once per month starting September 8th for eight months. Anyone interested in learning more about the community or to prepare for future leadership positions in the workplace is encouraged to apply. Tuition is only $450.

Click here to download an application.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pierce Report Provided Blueprint for New Economic Development Strategy

The nationally respected Citistates group recently returned to Owensboro to update its 1991 analysis of the region by meeting with stakeholders and conducting interviews on the progress of the community since the publication of the Pierce Report 20 years ago.

The 1991 Peirce Report, named for journalist and Citistates group founder Neil Pierce, largely characterized Owensboro as a Heartland city on the verge.

The Owensboro of the early 1990s, reported Peirce and collaborator Curtis Johnson, was a conservative community clearly comfortable with American economic and social convention. It chased smokestack industries, for instance, and disregarded the value of women as community leaders.

The results of the report served as a blueprint for the new economic development strategy the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation presented to the community in 2006. Pierce was highly critical of the region's less than sophisticated approach to economic development that relied solely on the "big catch" in referring to the constant search for the next manufacturing plant to locate in the community.

Rather he suggested that the region use a more strategic approach in cultivating entrepreneurs and focusing on education as the path to prosperity in the modern economy. The report also suggested that the downtown area was an under utilized asset on the road to community improvement.

In 2006 the EDC Board embraced a new strategy that focused economic development efforts on Talent, Innovation and Place. Education, quality of place and growing new companies through the efforts of entrepreneurs began to compliment the traditional industrial recruitment efforts of the EDC.

Since 2006 the region has adopted a comprehensive Placemaking strategy to enhance the quality of place downtown, put in place a one-stop center, eMerging Ventures and created a state-of the-art business accelerator to nurture start-up businesses, and made numerous strides in the access and opportunities in secondary and postseconday education aligned to the workforce.

The challenge with this approach is that it is a long-term strategy. While the results have been very positive, continued long-term support will be important for success.

Click here to read the 1991 Pierce Report. Visit http://civicpact.org/ to read about the current Citistates project in Owensboro.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

AT&T Acquisition of T-Mobile will Enhance Wireless Broadband in Owensboro

One of the main topics of discussion this past year was AT&T’s 3G wireless broadband service--or, rather, the lack of AT&T 3G service in Owensboro while many of our neighboring cities already had access to this technology. Our interest at the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation was driven by the needs of our businesses and the impact lack of service was having on economic development.

AT&T’s response to us, and the community, was that deploying a mobile broadband network was complex and involved many factors, with the major factor being spectrum. There was not enough spectrum (airwaves) available in Owensboro to offer 3G service. Finally, in December this issue was resolved with the announcement that Owensboro now had AT&T 3G service. At the risk of not sounding grateful, members of the EDC were already asking about AT&T’s plan for 4G service.

The importance of a high-speed mobile broadband network that serves every town, large or small, cannot be overstated. It’s not just a matter of how fast your pictures or videos load. Mobile broadband will be a key driver of productivity in almost every business and will change the way we deliver health care and education. And, what is of immense importance to Owensboro and west Kentucky is that it will allow smaller towns to compete on an equal basis with larger cities. Owensboro needs the latest wireless broadband technology available to be competitive, grow our town and attract people to our community--particularly young graduates wanting to come home.

You may have read about AT&T’s offer to acquire T-Mobile. There are many reasons given why this merger is a perfect fit for the two companies. Primarily, they use the same technology and their networks complement each other. But what makes the T-Mobile merger so important to Owensboro is that AT&T will gain the spectrum needed to enhance our existing 3G service and to deploy 4G to 97 percent of the households in America. Without this additional spectrum, AT&T’s current plan is to serve 80 percent of its households. Owensboro and all other small and rural towns simply cannot afford to be part of that 20 percent that has to wait.

We urge the FCC to approve the AT&T/T-Mobile merger agreement. The Greater Owensboro region deserves the best possible resources to help our local businesses grow and thrive. The GO-EDC has seen the benefits mobile broadband can bring and we believe the merger is a big step forward in boosting workplace productivity, investment, and most importantly, employment.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sazerac revives Glenmore name for Owensboro plant

The Sazerac Company revived the Glenmore Distillery name for their Owensboro-based operation at a ceremony with employees and local officials today.  The company employs 180 people at the Owensboro plant.  The Glenmore operation has  an an economic impact of $17.8 million in the regional economy.   

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Public and Private Investment in Economic Development Paying Dividends for Owensboro

The 2010-2011 EDC Annual Report shows that public and private investment supporting the work of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation is paying dividends for the Owensboro region.

Over the past two years the $650,000 has been invested by local government and $260,000 has been invested by private sources through the Investment 2020 program supporting the operating expenses of the professional economic development staff and growth strategy for the region. This financial support has lead to over $104 million in direct private business investment by firms supported by the EDC.

Every dollar spent in support of the EDC translates to nearly $50 spent in the community. In terms of public money, every public tax dollar used to support the EDC translates to an $83 return on investment in private business investment.

Visit EDC Annual Report on the web.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Centre for Business and Research: Six month progress report

Last week economic development officials presented a status report to the Owensboro City Commission on the Centre for Business and Research, the 40,000 square foot business accelerator that opened last October.

In the six months since the facility opened, three tenants have moved into the Centre.  Additionally, the biotechnology lab used by industries and the Western Kentucky University biotech research program is opened. EDC Executive Vice President Madison Silvert is currently finalizing leases with three additional companies.  He projects that the Centre will have 8 to 10 companies occupying space by the end of 2011.

"At the current rate of growth the Centre will be near capacity by the end of 2012, a full three years ahead of schedule," said Silvert.  By the end of 2012 the Centre will generate a dollar in lease revenue for every dollar invested by the City for the project.  If occupational taxes of the new jobs, with an average salary of $95,000, in the building and net profit taxes for the new companies that locate there are factored in, the City will generate a positive return on their annual investment of $300,000 in very short order.

"Few investments in economic development provide as rapid a return on such a small investment," said EDC President/CEO Nick Brake.  "This project was originally proposed as a long-term endeavor.  We are very pleased with the initial results, but it is important to be patient and stay the course for the entire commitment of ten years," he said.

"While such a positive return in such a short time is nice, the ultimate goal of the project is to help form scalable companies that can grow and eventually locate in the region and employ several hundred people," said Silvert.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

OwensboroU site makes debut

By Joy Campbell, Messenger-Inquirer

OwensboroU.com is now live.

This new website — touted as an economic development marketing tool — brands Owensboro as an exciting and safe college town and puts a lot of information about its four partner colleges in one place, officials said Tuesday.

Representatives of Western Kentucky University-Owensboro, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Owensboro Community & Technical College and Brescia University joined Nick Brake, the president and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp., in officially launching their partnership at a news conference in the Commerce Center.

A small crowd of educators, business and community leaders and public officials attended the launch.

“Economic development has long been based on the location decisions of companies,” Brake said. “The overall goal of our partnership is to focus on the location decisions made by college students and their parents.”

The EDC is continuing to pursue a strategy that educational attainment drives the new economy. The goal of this partnership is to boost the community’s college enrollment to 10,000 from its current number of nearly 8,000, he said.

The idea is for the community to be able to continue to retain at least two out of three graduates to live and work in the community.

The web portal is the primary marketing tool the partners will use to “Enroll, Engage and Employ” students who choose Owensboro.

The site lets the institutions sell themselves and lets parents see what the colleges and the community have to offer.

Links to the colleges as well as to social media and other sites also are plugged into OwensboroU.

“Our hope is that this initiative will help us work together as a region and recognize the role that higher education and a baccalaureate degree play in economic development,” Brake said.

As the partnership continues, other organizations will be engaged to tie the college population together, he said.

The new website and partnership provides a way to demonstrate the collaborations the four colleges already have and an opportunity to continue those relationships, said Gene Tice, Western’s Owensboro campus director.

The four leaders have been meeting regularly for a number of years.

“Parents are very interested in the community where their students will live,” said Cheryl King, KWC’s president. “This gives us a chance to showcase our community for its safety and amenities such as our emerging downtown which is exciting to students and to show that we are a community that will care about them.”

The partnership shows that more may be achieved through collaboration, even though each college is different, King said.

Jim Klauber, president of Owensboro Community & Technical College, likes the idea of each institution sharing the message that it’s an exciting time to be a college student and to come to Owensboro. That message rings true for OCTC as it is creating niche programs to help students pursue their careers, he said.

Bringing together both the message of quality education with quality of place in Owensboro is important to Brescia, said its president, Rev. Larry Hostetter.

“Our students who come here do tend to stay,” he said

Brake said city and county officials support the idea that “education is about preparing for work, but it also is about making your life better.”

Lyn Cooper, president and CEO of First Security Inc., said the partnership and website is a unique collaboration among the colleges and EDC.

“It promotes knowledge of what we have in Owensboro,” Cooper said. “And we especially like it because on one site, students and families can compare the institutions. I applaud the EDC, and I think this is a great move in the right direction.”

Students, including existing college students, will find information links about internships, activities and housing.

Parents have their own sections with separate links to a number of data points including crime statistics, arts, jobs, housing and night life.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, May 9, 2011


The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation (GO-EDC) along with Brescia University, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Owensboro Community and Technical College, and Western Kentucky University - Owensboro will announce a partnership at a news conference tomorrow to focus on quality of place and amenities to make Owensboro a destination for college students. We will be officially launching OwensboroU.com – a web portal to market Owensboro to current and prospective students and their parents to help create the best college community experience possible.

WHEN: Tuesday, May 10, at 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: Commerce Center
200 East Third Street, 3rd Floor Training Room
Owensboro, KY

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tri-state economic leaders visit Washington to support I-69 and energy policy

Regional Chamber and EDC delegation with Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar
A delegation of chamber of commerce and economic development executives from Henderson, Southwest Indiana, and Owensboro visited Washington, D.C. earlier this week to push for federal help with Interstate 69 funding more job-friendly energy regulations, and responsible fiscal policy,

Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce President Jody Wassmer and EDC President Nick Brake joined Henderson-Henderson County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Schneider, Chamber of Commerce of Southwestern Indiana President & CEO Matt Meadors, Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana Board Chairman Jeff Deig and  Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana President Greg Wathen to make the trip.

On Tuesday, May 3 the group was briefed on the status of energy, workforce and transportation legislation by U.S. Chamber of Commerce policy experts , then attended meetings with Kentucky congressmen Ed Whitfield and Brett Guthrie, Indiana Congressman Larry Bucshon, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and Indiana Senator Richard Lugar. On Wednesday, May 4 the delegation met with Indiana Senator Dan Coats and also got a briefing on transportation issues from staff members of the Coalition for America's Gateways and Trade Corridors.

"I-69 and energy are two of the most significant large-scale economic issues the communities of the Tri-State share in common," Henderson Chamber's Brad Schneider said. "So it's important that we take a regional approach to advocacy efforts on those subjects. The lawmakers we visited appreciated that and encouraged us to continue to work together."

Brake said the feedback from lawmakers was similar in each meeting. "We delivered a powerful message about how our region works together," he said. 

"They all support the construction of I-69 in Indiana and Kentucky, and they all understand the importance of a new bridge to link the two states," said Wassmer. "Funding is the problem, especially with the debate about the budget deficit now under way in Washington and the reauthorization of the federal highways bill still in limbo. But we hope our lawmakers can help get the I-69 bridge in the bill in some form or fashion, and in our meetings we discussed some ways that could happen."

"As for energy, all the legislators we met with are dedicated to reign in unreasonable EPA regulations that threaten not only coal and power producers in our region but all the manufacturers and other businesses that rely on our relatively low energy prices. We told them we wholeheartedly support them."

This is the second straight year area chamber and EDC officials have travelled together to Washington to tout I-69, energy policy, and responsible fiscal policy.   

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Independence Bank ranks second in the nation among community banks

Independence Bancshares Inc. has grabbed the No. 2 spot in a leading financial intelligence provider’s ranking of the best-performing community banks in the country with between $500 million and $5 billion in assets.

Texas-based Westar Bank Holding Co. Inc. was No. 1 in the national rankings.

Independence, with $1.012 billion in assets, did not significantly out-perform the top 100 banks in any one category used for the analysis, but it scored well enough across the board to lock in second place.

That assessment came from SNL Financial, which provides information and analysis for banks, financial, insurance, real estate, energy and media/communications companies.

“That means there was nothing extreme in any one area,” Independence President Darrell Higginbotham said. “We performed well enough in all categories to earn that second ranking.”

Of the 760 community banks that fit SNL’s criteria for the rankings, none has more than 60 offices.

If consolidated information was reported, the bank was ranked at the holding company level. Otherwise, SNL used commercial bank subsidiary data.

Higginbotham said another major takeaway from the No. 2 ranking is that it’s an asset for the community to have a nationally-ranked bank with the strength and stability to meet the region’s financial needs.

Here is Independence’s performance in the six areas that were ranked: 1.89 percent in return on average tangible assets before tax; .11 percent in net charge-offs as a percent of average loans; .46 percent adjusted nonperforming loans as a percent of total loans; 54.46 percent operating expenses as a percent of operating revenue; 4.37 percent net interest margin; 9.02 percent loan growth rate.

Higginbotham and CEO Chris Reid attribute the company’s success to its quality employees.

“We also think that it’s a validation of our strategies, of how we provide community bank services, and that communities are responding to how we do business,” Higginbotham said.

Northern Bancorp Inc. of Woburn, Mass. kept its net charge-offs to almost zero (.01 percent) to make it into the third slot.

Kentucky placed seven of its 22 banks eligible for this analysis in the top 100.

Independence Bank’s roots are in McLean County where Farmers & Merchants Bank opened in 1909. The modern-day history, however, began in 1971 when Charles A. Reid and Maurice E. Reisz purchased that bank and Providence State Bank in Webster County.

Soon after, current CEO Chris Reid joined his father and uncle and assumed a leadership role in the banks. In 1997, the two small banks were incorporated under one name, Independence Bank.

The bank has grown fast with offices now in Henderson and Owensboro, Sebree, Beech Grove, Hawesville, Lewisport, Bowling Green and Paducah.

The banks now employ more than 250 people.

Joy Campbell, 691-7299, jcampbell@messenger-inquirer.com

Community Campus receives grant funding

Community Campus has received two grants totaling $125,000 to fund and help expand the campus’ biomedical and energy technology academies that will enroll students in the fall and next year.

An experimental partnership between local school districts, colleges and businesses, Community Campus is tasked with finding new ways to educate students. The goal is to better prepare students for college or the job market by teaching them real-world situations and applications of their lessons.

These grants are both funded by the national education initiative Project Lead the Way, according to a release from Daviess County Public Schools, one of the key partners in Community Campus.

Marcia Carpenter, DCPS College and Career Readiness Coordinator, said Project Lead the Way is an education initiative based on improving education, just as Community Campus is.

“Project Lead the Way, what makes it unique is that it is relevant, the learning that students do is meaningful and everything is related to a real-world situation. Students are hungry for relevance,” Carpenter said. “I think the fact that we received the grant is an acknowledgement of the faith they have in what is being done in this area.”

The first grant, $50,000, will go to the Life Sciences Academy that is due to enroll students for the 2012-13 school year. The funds will be used to implement a four-class course of study under the academy.

“The Life Science Academy will start for the 2012-13 school year and this grant provides the start-up money for the Project Lead the Way Biomedical Program, which will be the anchor for that academy,” Carpenter said. “It’s all learning by doing. All of the projects are based on simulations of real-life situations ... “It (the grant) also directly meets the needs that have been identified in our community for a growing health care community.”

The second grant, worth $75,000, will go to fund the Construction, Energy and Trades Academy and create an integrated pipeline course that will help middle school students interested in energy-related fields get on track to that academy.

“The energy-technology side starts with middle school. It’s a pipeline program that will lead into high school for an awareness on the kind of energy that we are using, the kinds of energy we’ll be using in the future and the consequences of energy use, such as pollution control,” Carpenter said.

Daviess County Public Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton said the grant funding is a big boost to Community Campus.

“I think it’ll definitely help us move Community Campus and our academies forward,” Shelton said. “This really builds the foundation for us in each of these programs.”

Shelton added that because of the cooperative nature of Community Campus, this money goes to help more than just one school system.

“It’ll benefit not only our district, but students from other surrounding school districts as well,” Shelton said. “These grants allow us also to have further conversations about how to structure programs for the future and continue to expand opportunities for students that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Dariush Shafa, 691-7302, dshafa@messenger-inquirer.com

Thursday, March 31, 2011

OCTC and Jobs

In further reflection and commemoration of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Owensboro Community and Technical College, I offer the following analysis of jobs data before and after the establishment of the college in 1986.
  • According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Owensboro has experienced far higher rates of job growth since the opening of OCTC when compared to the 15 years prior to the existence of the college.  Job growth in the region from 1970 to 1985 was 17%, compared to 25% since the opening of OCTC in 1986.  
  • As far as manufacturing jobs are concerned the numbers are striking and significant.  In the 15 years before OCTC opened its doors, the region was bleeding manufacturing jobs at a rate of  hundreds of jobs a year.   A total of 1,500 jobs or 16% were lost from 1970 to 1985.  In the 15 years after the college opened, the region actually gained manufacturing jobs.  Manufacturing job retention rates in Owensboro from 1985 to 2008 far surpass the national level and the levels in many of Owensboro's peer regions.   Since 1985, Owensboro has retained 98% of manufacturing jobs.  This compares favorably to 85% nationally and 70% in our peer regions.   The importance of a highly skilled and technical workforce is a critical component of this retention and OCTC, particularly since the consolidation of the technical programs, has been a key part of the region's competitiveness in the retention of manufacturing jobs. 
  • Since the college opened Owensboro has seen a marked increase in professional service occupations that typically require some form of post secondary preparation, a 50% increase since 1985.  This compares to 30% increase from 1970 to 1985.  
I recognize that multiple factors play a part in the changes to the economy over the past 40 or 50 years.  But numbers like these, particularly in the area of manufacturing, demonstrate the importance of increased access to higher education and training.   The emphasis on technical skills provided by OCTC certainly have been a major driver of our regional competitiveness over the past several decades. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Owensboro College Celebrates New President and 25th Anniversary

The Owensboro Community and Technical College celebrated the inauguration of Dr. Jim Klauber as the institution's fifth president as part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the college's founding in Owensboro.

In reflection on this occasion, the founding of OCTC is easily the most important event in the last 25 in the Greater Owensbro region. It has raised education levels and contributed to the region's ability to be competitive in the face of significant changes impacting the global economy. Nearly all of these changes, from the growth of jobs in industries like health care and biotech to retention of jobs in declining industries in manufacturing, have been rooted in human capital.

OCTC has played a pivotal role in preparing Owensboro's human capital to navigate the changing economy with job training in every sector of the regional economy.

Since the consolidation of the community and technical colleges in 1997, enrollments at OCTC have increased significantly, to over 6,000 students. There is no better tool to improve the workforce and economic development of a community than a strong community college—and we have one of the best.

From the enrollment of high school students through the Discover College program to the customized business and industry training delivered to area businesses, OCTC demonstrates why a strong comprehensive community college and programs such as the Advanced Technology Center are key to the future progress and prosperity of Owensboro.

The community college movement has been called the Ellis Island of our time. It provides the same hope for the future that the shores of our great country provided immigrants of a century ago.

Like so many things that happen in Owensboro, the citizens of the community were slow to embrace this movement and many even fought it.  To those leaders who fought to create this beacon of hope and those who continue their legacy today, I say thank you for showing us the power of transforming a community.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Joe Berry Appointed to EDC Downtown Development Position

The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation announces the appointment of Joe Berry as Project Manager for Downtown Development.  Berry’s role will be to coordinate all private investment efforts specific to downtown Owensboro.

Berry has worked as an economic and community development planner for the past two years at the Green River Area Development District.  At GRADD he managed small business projects through the $2.5 million revolving loan fund.  He also administered funding to the region through Community Development Block Grants and from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration. 

“Joe Berry represents the profile of the kind of young professional we are attracting to this region with our efforts to revitalize downtown,” said Nick Brake, EDC President/CEO.  “His enthusiasm and experience in working closely with economic development projects will take our private investment efforts to the next level.”

Mr. Berry was born and raised in Owensboro, a graduate of Owensboro High School.  He is currently a downtown resident. 

He holds a Master of Public Administration from Western Kentucky University and an undergraduate degree from Transylvania University.  He is certified in Economic Development Finance and is a graduate of the Kentucky Institute for Economic Development.  His employment will begin on April 18.

“It is certainly an exciting time for downtown and economic development overall in our community,” said Berry.  “I am delighted to join the team of professionals at the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation and I look forward to working with the next phase of our master plan in attracting private investment to match and exceed the commitment of public funds downtown.”

Mixed Use Development Planned for Bates Building in Downtown Owensboro

Terry Woodward said last week he has purchased the three-story Bates Building at 101 W. Second St., the building next to it and a large vacant lot on Veterans Boulevard for $1.2 million.

The owner of WaxWorks/VideoWorks plans to build a "mixed-use, retail, high-rise condominium" on the lot, after the Bates Building has been restored.

"That is my plan," Woodward said. "Obviously, it's very preliminary, but that's what I want to do."

The purchase includes the building at 105 W. Second St., occupied by Patti's ReSale store (the former Woolworth's). The open lot behind those two buildings overlooks Veterans Boulevard and Smothers Park. The large lot sits between the city's parking garage and the American Legion.

Hollison Technologies, Centre will be featured on Fox Business

The Fox Business Channel is filming a segment featuring Hollison Technologies at Owensboro's Centre for Business and Research.

Hollison, a tenant at the 37,000 square foot business accelerator, is a provider of products and services to the food industry to detect and track contaminants in the food supply chain.

Hollison provides unique products and services for food protection and the detection of contaminants in the food supply chain including, but not limited to, farms, bulk storage facilities, commodity transportation, food processing, food distribution and point of consumption. The company offers patented technology for the protection of the entire food supply chain with the detection and identification of chemical, biological and radiological contamination in food commodities, processed food and beverages. Hollison has developed a proprietary secure web-based food tracking capability for use with its breakthrough sampling and detection technologies to offer complete chain-of-custody information complete with available contamination test data.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

EDC, OCTC partner to create certificate for Financial and Customer Services

The Owensboro Community and Technical College and the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation have teamed up to create a customized certificate to prepare the workforce for the growing number of jobs regionally in the financial and professional services sector.

The professional-level certificate, taught through the OCTC business department, consists of four classes ranging from basic customer service and communications to money and finance. The program will be open to high school students through the Discover College and Community Campus Business Academy.

"The professional service sector is the fastest growing job area of both the national and regional economies," said Nick Brake, President/CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. "This certificate will allow both young people entering the workforce and incumbent workers between jobs to prepare for positions in back offices, call centers, and the financial services industry."

The customer support, call center and financial services sector in the Owensboro region consists of over 1,500 employees at six companies. Both US Bank and First Security Bank announced expansions of their mortgage processing services in 2010. The new US Bank Home Mortgage center, which will open later this week in the Mid America Airpark, will add up to 500 additional jobs over the next few years.