Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Changes to Downtown Market Square

A change of plans in Owensboro's downtown revitalization could save the city almost two million dollars and lead to enhanced private investment in downtown. Planners are rethinking the market square plans now that the Executive Inn land is giving them more room to work with downtown.

Under the original downtown masterplan, businesses on the block north of the courthouse would be flattened to make room for a market square used as an outdoor event space and farmer's market, but officials say that plan presented too many logistical problems.

The new idea is to create a direct path from the courthouse to the new waterfront through that block.
Downtown development director Fred Reeves says everything that might have been planned for the market square can now go on the Executive Inn property. The path, called a paseo by urban designers, will create opportunities for private development on the block adjacent to the new downtown hotel and along Veterans Blvd. that were not a part of the original plan. In addition to saving money with the redesign, the private investment will keep more downtown property on the tax rolls.

To view the complete redesign of Market Square, please visit the EDC home page at

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kentucky BioProcessing gets contract

Aethlon Medical Inc. of San Diego will use Owensboro-based Kentucky BioProcessing LLC to manufacture the active ingredient to be used in its Hemopurifier, a device used to absorb viruses and immunosuppressive particles from blood.

"The relationship with Kentucky BioProcessing represents an important step toward establishing the longterm commercial feasibility of our Hemopurifier," Aethlon Medical CEO Jim Joyce said in a news release.

KBP will produce the proteins, to be used in the device, inside tobaccolike plants for significantly less money than producing them in a laboratory, he said.

"The relationship offers large yield production potential in time frames that could improve our response capability against viral outbreaks, including unforeseen bioterror and pandemic threats," Joyce said.

The news release referred to "large-scale production." But Barry Bratcher, KBP's chief operating officer, said production will be measured in grams and kilos, not ounces and pounds -- at least for now.

The contract will create no new jobs at KBP immediately, he said. "At this point, we're still demonstrating the product," Bratcher said.

The Hemopurifier still faces several years of clinical trials before it can go into commercial production.

The company's Web page says the Hemopurifier method "is based on kidney dialysis. In essence, the system filters out ... viruses in much the same way a water filtration system removes lead and other impurities from drinking water."

Aethlon Medical says its technology is "positioned to treat global pandemic issues such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, H5N1 avian flu and pathogens most likely to be weaponized for use in bioterrorism."

It also mentions that the filter will work with the ebola virus, dengue fever, West Nile, monkeypox and ovarian cancer.

The Web site says "the Hemopurifier is the first-in-class medical device to selectively adsorb viruses from the bloodstream."

Joyce, who founded the company in 1998, has testified before Congress about using the Hemopurifier as a countermeasure against biological weapons, his Web site says.

The company says it has conducted Hemopurifier tests on both animals and humans.
"In human studies, conducted in India, we have demonstrated initial safety of the Hemopurifier and the ability to reduce viral load in both HIV- and HCV- (hepatitis C) infected individuals," it says.

By Keith Lawrence, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Thursday, September 24, 2009 1:12 AM CDT

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Expansion of Health Care Industry and New Hospital will have Significant Economic Impact on Region

The expansion of the health care industry through the construction of a new hospital will have a significant economic impact on the Greater Owensboro region, according to an analysis by the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation (GO-EDC).

Hospitals make substantial contributions to local and regionaleconomies through the purchase of goods and services and theemployment of large numbers of workers. An analysis of data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics by GO-EDC demonstrates that health care is a base industry in the Owensboro metropolitan statistical area, meaning that each dollar in earnings and jobs for employment create additional earnings and jobs in the region. The investment by the Owensboro Medical Health System (OMHS) in the local economy with a new hospital will lead to 500 new long-term health care jobs over the next five years, which will ultimately translate to a total of 800 net new jobs in the region and over $24 million in new payroll earnings in the five county area.OMHS current annual payroll is $162,936,094, employing 3,147, an increase of 1,000 people since 1995.

The jobs and earnings numbers are not counting the construction phase of the project or the jobs that come along with new physicians recruited to the region as a result of the new hospital. The construction phase alone, according to BEA multipliers, will create over 4,000 jobs, $450,000,000 in new output and $139,000,000 in additional earnings for the region.

“Little attention is paid hospitals from an economic development perspective, and this is unfortunate,” said EDC President Nick Brake. “The lack of attention is, in part; because of the perception that health care is only a locally serving activity that has little impact on driving a metropolitan area's economic prosperity. Evidence from around the country is showing us otherwise. Hospitals are significant contributors to the economic base of regions. This analysis indicates that is the case here in Owensboro.”

Recent research at the University of New Orleans (Nelson, 2009) indicates that hospitals are substantial contributors to the economic base of slow-growth and larger metros. The study indicated that hospitals in small metropolitan regions, such as Owensboro, have the potential to evolve as a significant export industry because they often provide basic care in surrounding geographic areas. The expansion of OMHS as an 11 county regional medical center means that health care will likely grow as an export industry, adding significantly to the regional economic base. For more information about the New Orleans study please visit

Another significant measure of export revenue from the health care industry is the percentage of Medicare received from Medicare patients outside the metropolitan area. According to data supplied by OMHS, roughly $75 million in net payments, or 20 percent, come from patients outside the Owensboro MSA. The median percentage in the University of New Orleans analysis was 12 percent.

Additional data analyzed from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a stronger concentration of health care related occupations in the Greater Owensboro region than nationally, another indicator of the significance of the health care sector to the overall regional economic base. The average salary for health practitioner occupations in the Greater Owensboro region is over $52,000 per year, more than double the median income of the Owensboro MSA.

Click here to see full analysis, including BEA multipliers and BLS location quotients.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Speaker: City has 'buzz' statewide

By Keith Lawrence, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Wednesday, September 16, 2009 1:02 AM CDT
"You've got an incredible amount of opportunity here," Mike Mangeot, president and CEO of the Kentucky Association for Economic Development, told the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau on Tuesday.

"There's a buzz about Owensboro out in the state," he said. "There's a lot of talk about what's going to happen with the Executive Inn property."

The city bought the property last spring for $5 million, but no decision has been made on how it will be developed.

The hotel is slated to be razed next month.

The Kentucky Association for Economic Development, formerly the Kentucky Industrial Development Council, is a private, nonprofit organization that works to promote industrial and economic development, according to its Web site.

"The old-school economic development people always looked down their noses at tourism," Mangeot said. "Most people still think of economic development as industrial recruitment."

But, he said, "quality of place" is becoming more important in site selection. Companies are asking, "Is this somewhere I want to live?" Mangeot said.

Jobs, he said, follow people today. And that's where tourism comes in.

"Quality of place is what tourism is all about," said Mangeot, a former state deputy commissioner of travel. "Tourism is picking your pocket and making you feel good about it."

Everything in Kentucky is down this year, he said. "Nobody is pulling the trigger on any new projects right now. Kentucky always lags the nation by six to eight months in coming out of a recession."

Owensboro, Mangeot said, doesn't have enough hotel beds now that the Executive Inn is closed to go after the big conventions it used to attract, "but you're still successful."

Hotels may never see the level of business travel they saw before Sept. 11, 2001, he said. "I don't know that it will ever be back to where it was then" because more companies are communicating electronically today.

But, Mangeot said, "There will always be conventions."

He told the bureau's board of directors, "You're doing a great job here. I often use Owensboro as a great example of what's happening in the state."

Festivals, Mangeot said, "play a big role in tourism. They give people an opportunity to get together."

Keith Lawrence, 691-7301,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hollison receives $200,000 investment

By Keith Lawrence, Messenger-Inquirer

Published: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 12:00 AM CDT
The Kentucky Science and Technology Corp. has invested $200,000 in Hollison Technologies, a startup biotech company that will have its headquarters in the Owensboro Centre for Business and Research when it opens later this year.

That comes on the heels of a $50,000 investment from the local Emerging Ventures Seed Fund.

"It's exciting to see that kind of state investment," said Madison Silvert, vice president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. and executive director of its eMerging Ventures Center for Innovation.

"That's a good-sized investment," he said. "It's the largest award we've secured from them so far. We're seeing the emergence of a high-tech atmosphere in Owensboro."

"That was fantastic," Kevin Humphrey of Utica, one of four partners in the company, said of the state investment. "I credit Madison as much as I do our idea."

The Kentucky Science and Technology Corp. describes itself as "a private, nonprofit corporation committed to the advancement of science, technology and innovative economic development founded on Kentucky know-how."

Hollison's Web site says it "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."

It has developed technology for the "detection and identification of chemical, biological and radiological contamination in food commodities, processed food and beverages," the site says.

Humphrey said the company can detect salmonella, e.coli, herbicides, pesticides and radiation with a single test.

He said he's been working on the process for the past five years with partners Eric Dodd of Evansville and Doug Wood of Island. They recently added Tony Bashall of Massachusetts as a fourth partner.

The company's name is a combination of Humphrey's daughters' names -- Holly and Ellison.

Humphrey and his brother, David, owned Agri-Tech, a business they opened in Livermore in 1996, specializing in grain-handling equipment, poultry house construction, electrical work and steel building construction.

When that business closed, he started working on Hollison, he said.

The company already has customers lined up and is beginning operations even before its new offices are ready.

"We have to ramp up now and launch a pilot program with one of our customers in the next six weeks," Humphrey said.

Silvert said EDC hosted a reception for investors interested in the company a couple of weeks ago.

"We still need to do a little more work on financing," Humphrey said. "But Owensboro has been fantastic to work with. The business leaders have really stepped up to help us."

The company will start with 1,000 square feet "and a little bit of wet lab space," he said. "But they're leaving us room for expansion."

The transformation of an 86-year-old former tobacco warehouse at 1016 Allen St. into the high-tech Centre for Business and Research is on track to be completed by the end of the year, Silvert said.

Humphrey said the company will need "several" employees in Owensboro as well as sales people in the field.

Silvert said the peanut industry could have saved $1 billion earlier this year during the salmonella scare if it had had the Hollison technology.

"They can sample the air around the dry food for contaminants before its mixed with the larger food supply," he said. "This has tremendous potential."

Keith Lawrence, 691-7301,

Friday, September 11, 2009

I-64/ I-65 Corridor a "New Chapter in the Growth of Owensboro"

"There's no place in Kentucky that has more going on right now than you all," Gov. Steve Beshear told a crowd gathered at Meadow Lands Elementary School on Wednesday to watch him break ground for the first 2.3 miles of the long-awaited U.S. 60/U.S. 231 bypass extension, also known as the I-64/ I-65 Corridor.

He was talking about the $120 million worth of construction planned for downtown Owensboro and a new $385 million hospital planned between Daniels Lane and Pleasant Valley Road as well as the $37.6 million road project.

When completed, the bypass extension will become part of a new four-lane corridor from Owensboro to Interstate 64 at Dale, Ind.

The new four-lane roads in Kentucky and Indiana will connect I-64 and I-65 along U.S. 231 and the Natcher Parkway.

The Indiana part is scheduled for completion in 2011 -- the same year the first phase of the bypass extension is to be completed.

No timetable has been set for the start of the second phase. But Yager Materials of Owensboro is set to begin working on the first phase, which will extend from Kentucky 144 to U.S. 60 East near Hawesway Truck Plaza.

When the project is completed, the highway will extend from the Hawesway Truck Plaza to Kentucky 54.

The first phase also includes a half-mile connector road from Kentucky 54 to Pleasant Valley Road, which will provide better access to Meadow Lands and the new hospital planned by Owensboro Medical Health System.

"This will open this whole region up even more for economic development," Beshear told the crowd of students, teachers and community leaders.

"This is a new chapter in our growth," state Rep. Tommy Thompson, D-Philpot, told the crowd. "This is a critical access route between I-64 and I-65."