Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Incentive Plan Receives 'Concensus' Among City Commissioners

By Steve Vied, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 12:03 AM CDT

The way Owensboro induces developers to invest in projects in the city may soon take a new approach, with a greater focus on the redevelopment and reuse of areas that could use a boost.

On Tuesday at an Owensboro City Commission work session at City Hall, Nick Brake, president and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp., recommended creating a city incentives program that will have guidelines designed to promote smart, sustainable growth.

Four members of the City Commission who were present responded positively to the idea.

The city's current annexation policy that provides financial incentives for business and residential developments would remain, but additional incentives would be provided to promote infill development of areas that have fallen into decline, such as the area around Gabe's Tower on Triplett Street.

The "Local Government Shared Investment Policy" outlined by Brake includes a mechanism to score projects to determine the amount of tax reimbursement each would receive and for how long, based on the economic benefit and quality-of-life value to the community and the ability of the project to remain a valuable asset for many years.

Incentives would be provided for projects rather than individual retail stores. One option favors redevelopment projects in the urban core and urban central areas of the city. Another option focuses on development and redevelopment of large land areas.

Projects planned for urban infill areas, downtown and along Frederica Street as well as mixed-use projects would receive bonus points in the scoring system.

"We feel like this is the right time to do this," Brake said. "We need to look at sustainable development and infill development. ... Currently we have nothing on the books to help us do infill projects."

The new incentives would be an addition to the city's existing incentive policy, which has expanded the city's borders and raised the city's population, Mayor Ron Payne emphasized.

"I do really support the issue of targeting certain areas of town in need," Payne said.

Commissioner Charlie Castlen said he was pleased with the presentation.

"My problem with the current annexation policy is that it neglects areas inside the city," Castlen said.

Commissioner Candace Brake said it should be important for the city to promote development within the existing city limits. Commissioner John Kazlauskas said he was enthused about new, innovative ideas.

Commissioner David Johnson was not present for the meeting.

Payne said the next step would be to create an ordinance containing Brake's proposal. "I think you are hearing a consensus up here on interest in this," Payne told Brake.

-- Also on Tuesday, the commission listened to the concern of local couple Clarence and Donna May regarding a neighbor who parks an enclosed vehicle trailer and a large recreational vehicle on residential property. Payne asked the city staff to study how prevalent such problems are in the city and bring back a recommendation on what steps the city should take.

A city ordinance prohibits long-term parking of such vehicles on residential streets, but the ordinance does not prohibit parking them in driveways and yards.

Steve Vied, 691-7297,

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Downtown Design Standards Translate to Investment Security

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 17, 2009

Owensboro welcomes researchers from around the world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To see a summary of Owensboro's Plant Therapeutics Infrastrucutre on You Tube, click the following link:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 13, 2009

EDC chief: Incentives may pay off

By Keith Lawrence, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Monday, July 13, 2009 12:02 AM CDT

The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. is targeting customer support and call centers as it works to bring more jobs into the community.

And new economic development incentives passed by the Kentucky General Assembly last month will help with that and other recruiting efforts, said Nick Brake, EDC president.

"The legislation created a new incentive program for communications and computer systems," he said. "That helps with headquarters types of businesses. We hope to attract some of those to Owensboro. We're recruiting back-office operations now."

Brake said Kentucky's "incentives have always been for new manufacturing plants with a large volume of jobs. But we're changing to accommodate small businesses because most jobs are created by small businesses."

With the new legislation, he said, creating 10 or more jobs can trigger incentives.

For companies locating in older parts of the city, Brake said, historic preservation tax credits have been extended.

In the past, Kentucky had a pool of $3 million worth of credits statewide. That was increased to $5 million.

"Generally speaking, expanding incentives to include creative industries and computer/communications equipment is very significant," he said.

Kentucky has lost nearly 100,000 high-paying manufacturing jobs -- one-third of the total in the state -- since 2001, the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers said recently.

"The reality is that manufacturing is becoming more efficient, more high-tech and that has caused fewer jobs," Brake said.

The new incentives will reinvest in manufacturing and job maintenance programs, he said.

"In the past, we had an incentive program for the automotive industry," Brake said. "Now, it focuses on all manufacturing. The incentives can be used for new equipment and new training."

Area aluminum companies can benefit from the new incentives as can The HON Co., an office furniture company that is studying the future of its Owensboro plant, he said.

"We've been making calls to HON's corporate offices," Brake said. "We're trying to make a difference."

He said the new incentive programs also target small business development -- for companies with 50 or fewer employees. Incentives are available for both new and expanding small businesses, Brake said.

Madison Silvert, EDC vice president and executive director of the organization's eMerging Ventures Center for Innovation, said several of the start-up companies he's working with will qualify for the new incentives.

"It's a great tool," he said of the incentive program.

"We have a couple of new businesses looking at the incentives," Brake said. "But there's a lot of policy work still to be done on implementing the incentives" by state officials.

The new incentives include companies that upgrade facilities, retain at least 85 percent of their jobs and make a minimum investment of $2.5 million. The companies can recover up to 50 percent of equipment costs and all of their training costs.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Armstrong Coal plans two more mines

St. Louis-based Armstrong Coal Co. has four mines in Ohio and Muhlenberg counties today, employing 437 people mining 3 million to 4 million tons of coal a year.

But the company expects to increase employment to between 600 and 700 people next year and between 800 and 900 by 2012, Kenny Armstrong, the company's vice president for operations, told the Green River Area Development District's board of directors Thursday.

It expects to add a fourth mine in Ohio County later this year and a fifth by the end of next year. Armstrong has one mine in Muhlenberg County.

Coal shipments should increase to 5 million tons by the end of this year, Armstrong said, and 7.8 million tons by the end of 2010.

To read more go to the

Monday, July 6, 2009

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

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

Presentations will address the latest innovations in plant-based pharmaceutical (PMP) research, development and commercialization and will feature some of the world’s leading experts in the emerging bio-pharmaceutical production platform. Those scheduled to present include:
  • Dr. Jeanne Novak, President and CEO of Boulder, Colorado-based CBR International. Novak has led interaction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other international regulatory bodies for a number of PMP product candidates. CBR provides high-level strategic, clinical development and regulatory consulting for the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Dr. Charles Arntzen, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccinology, the Biodesign Institute and Florence Ely Nelson Presidential Chair of Arizona State University.
  • Dr. Yuri Gleba, Managing Director for Icon Genetics, a Bayer GmbH subsidiary focused on developing new biopharmaceuticals and high-value protein products using green plants as production hosts.

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

To register for the conference, contact Allison Koch at 502-413-8955 or email

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New tax credits available to qualifying companies

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


  • Assistance for existing manufacturers who need to make significant capital investments in Kentucky facilities in order to remain competitive, preventing loss of jobs to competitor states
  • $2.5 million minimum new investment
  • Existing manufacturers may recover up to 50% of the cost for new equipment and 100% of training costs through income tax credits

Technology-based Firms:

  • Provide a sales and use tax refund for companies that are heavy users of computer and telecommunications equipment
  • Must invest at least $100 million in computer or telecommunications equipment for installation and use in Kentucky
  • Systems must be an integral part of the product or service that is the primary business of the new or expanding firm
  • Expand the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA) to allow companies to receive sales tax refunds for the purchase of electronic processing systems costing at least $50,000
  • Can be combined with sales tax credits for construction costs to provide a significant savings for projects investing $500,000

Small Businesses (50 or less employees):

  • Small business must create one new job and retain that job for one year
  • Must also invest at least $5,000 in qualifying equipment
    The maximum amount of credit for each small business for each year shall not exceed $25,000

Other incentives may be available depending on company circumstances or need. For more information or to schedule an appointment regarding these changes, please contact the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation at 270-926-4339 or email Sharla Austin-Darnell, Existing Industry Manager at sdarnell at owensboro dot com