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 (

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

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.