Wednesday, June 30, 2010

$25 Million Awarded to Local Firms for OMHS Construction

OWENSBORO, KY – Since the building of the new OMHS hospital began in early April, Turner Construction estimates approximately $25 million worth of the work associated with the new hospital has been committed to area firms. It is anticipated that bidding opportunities will extend into 2011, said Merrill Bowers, senior project manager for Turner now living in Owensboro.

“The procurement process for this project is different than the traditional design-bid-build manner where the design is completed prior to starting construction and all contracts are awarded early in the construction phase,” Bowers said. “We are still in the design development stages for the facility and there is still a lot of work yet to award.”

More than two-thirds of the new hospital’s $385 million price tag will be spent on construction—some $270 million. Turner expects that the economic spin-off could fuel another $139 million into the regional economy over the next three years.

“We anxiously await our 2013 opening so our patients can begin receiving care at the new facility, but we’re excited that we can provide the region with economic benefits now,” said Jeff Barber, president & CEO for OMHS. “The demand for contract workers is expected to create 1,000 to 1,500 jobs during the next three years.”

Turner has awarded a number of contracts since April. Those include electrical, mechanical, structural steel, fire protection, structural concrete, drywall, exterior masonry and exterior glass. Owensboro contractors, material suppliers, vendors and labor will be used for much of the work.

In some cases, local businesses have partnered with larger firms to increase their chances of securing work. Beltline Electric is subcontracting with Down’s Electric. Wilkerson Plastering & Acoustics, another Owensboro firm, teamed up with Nashville’s Cage Drywall to offer the most competitive proposal for drywall. Owensboro’s RL Wilson Masonry and Kentucky Mirror & Plate Glass joined forces with ProClad and RC Aluminum to submit a winning proposal for the exterior cladding. Pilot Steel, American Stair and All American Fabrication recently secured subcontracts for fabrication of stairs and a portion of the structural steel.

Additional requests for proposals, commonly called RFPs, will be solicited for remaining work. Those include: landscaping, site concrete, roadway improvements, interior masonry, flooring, ceilings, general carpentry, window treatments, millwork, casework, kitchen equipment, interior glazing, doors, hardware, and fire alarms to name only a few, Bowers said.


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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Public: GO-EDC is on the Right Track

The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. is on the right track, according to those who turned out Monday night to give the group feedback on shaping its work for the next five years.

A crowd of 50-60 people at the EDC's meeting at Owensboro Community & Technical College told the EDC staff and board members that their strategic plan should find ways to help small businesses and focus on work force development issues.

But the meeting attendees also want leaders to continue to nourish existing big industries and go after more of those.

Partnerships with Hancock County to protect and nurture its aluminum industry jobs also was a big part of the discussion.

Mike Baker, executive director of the Hancock County Industrial Foundation, said of that community's 2,000 manufacturing jobs, 1,500 are in the aluminum industry.

The EDC has a formal understanding to work with Hancock County for regional development.

The discussion of the EDC's new strategic plan came after an hourlong presentation from Nick Brake, the group's president, and Madison Silvert, executive vice president.

"Our prior strategy in the 1980s and 1990s was that we waited for the big catch, and it was mostly an industrial focus," Brake said. "We still do a lot of this type of fishing, but the fish are fewer and far between to catch."

The EDC has used a three-part strategy for five years -- working with existing companies, attracting new companies (big catch) and growing new companies.

"Globalization has changed everything," Brake said. "So, the board moved in a more broad direction."

Brake and Silvert outlined how the EDC has carried out the plan and highlighted successes.

All of that background, Brake said, was to provide context so that the group could talk about what the new priorities should be.

Each person was asked to rank the strategic priorities the EDC has identified in seven broad areas and to provide other areas of focus if desired.

The areas of focus are existing business retention; investment attraction targets; innovation/commercialization/technology based companies; talent attraction targets; infrastructure development; education and workforce development; and placemaking.

Each category has several areas to rank.

One statistic that struck some was that companies that have 10-99 employees are the source of most of the job growth for the EDC's peer communities as well as in the state and the nation.

Owensboro's job creation numbers are negative for that group.

Brake said that presents an opportunity for the community and the state.

Most of Owensboro's job growth has been in companies that employ 300 or more people.

"We are not suggesting that the state quit that strategy, but we may need to look at our Stage II companies and pay attention to them," he said.

The region has added 500 jobs and more than $90 million in investment over the past 18 months, according to EDC reports. That includes 300 new jobs at U.S. Bank with that company's $14 million investment.

It also includes 59 jobs from Unilever's $49 million expansion that was achieved with state tax incentives.

Local homebuilder Mike O'Bryan said he has talked to a lot of people and the biggest concern for small businesses is that "we don't do enough for them," he said.

"What can the EDC and the chamber do for small businesses?"

Former Mayor Tom Watson said one thing that would help small businesses is a local HMO or PPO to help them provide low-cost health insurance.

Watson also suggested that the EDC needs more funding to move the community forward.

The group's budget is $600,000, which comes from the city, county and private sources.

Several people suggested that education needs to be a primary focus, because employers are having difficulty finding workers with the skills they need.

"We need to be able to staff with the right people; I can't stress this enough," said Wayne Foster, owner of American Patriot Getaways.

A plan will be presented to the EDC board in August, Brake said, but he's not yet sure how the results of the public's ranking will be shared.

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

To Learn More

The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. has its annual report and more data on its website, edc.owensboro.com.

CityVisions' Barry Alberts offers extensive insights on downtown riverfront revitalization efforts

When Owensboro-Daviess County officials were looking for someone with the right mix of experience and credentials to help plan and build a downtown convention and events center, Barry Alberts filled both requirements.

Alberts, a New York native, is managing partner of the Louisville urban planning consultant CityVisions. He is a graduate of Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. But it is Alberts' long association and leadership position with the resurgence of downtown Louisville that makes him valuable to a community embarking on a $79.4 million downtown revitalization project, an effort that will be anchored by the convention and events center and adjacent hotel.

Alberts is credited with being the point person on nearly every major downtown Louisville development project undertaken in the last two decades. Considering everything that has happened in Louisville, that's saying a lot.

With hundreds of millions of public and private dollars already invested, downtown Louisville has undergone a dramatic transformation. The Muhammad Ali Center, the West Main Street Cultural District, the Louisville Slugger Museum, Slugger Field, the expansion of the Commonwealth Convention Center and the 85-acre Waterfront Park have all contributed to downtown Louisville's rebirth, with more to come.

In October, the $238 million, 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center arena is scheduled to open.

From 1988 through 1998, Alberts was the executive director of the Louisville Development Authority. For a decade after that he was director of the Louisville Downtown Development Corp. About two years ago, Alberts and a partner in the construction business formed CityVisions, an urban planning and design firm.

In March, CityVisions was hired to assist the Downtown Events Center Steering Committee in the development of an Owensboro convention and events center for a fee of approximately $200,000.

Fred Reeves, Owensboro's downtown development director, said Alberts and his company were recommended by planners Michael Huston and Jay Narayana of Gateway Planning Group, the company that produced the master plan for downtown Owensboro redevelopment.

Alberts wasn't a stranger to local officials. He had worked with Gateway on the master plan and with the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. when it was seeking a company to develop and operate the downtown hotel. The Malcolm Bryant Corp. was eventually selected.

"We liked the fact that he (Alberts) was from Kentucky and our city staff had become comfortable with him," Reeves said.

With help from another consulting firm, ConsultEcon of Boston, CityVisions has already produced a 70-page feasibility study for the convention and events center and is working on operations, marketing and construction plans for the facility. Before the July 7 meeting of the steering committee, the consultants are scheduled to produce a recommended site plan for the events center and hotel, something the chairman of the steering committee, Daviess County Judge-Executive Reid Haire, wants to see happen.

Alberts said his Louisville experience taught him that public access to the river is critical.

"It's the heart and soul of the community," he said. "But you don't need acres and acres of access. You also need development, some private, some public, with services. Some cities build huge waterfront parks, but there's nothing around them. You need a lot around it. There's opportunity to do that here."

It will be important for Owensboro's convention and events center to be a facility used by the local community that also strongly engages the Ohio River, Alberts said. Proper marketing, i.e. aggressive, is everything, he said.

"The marketing of these facilities have become more entrepreneurial," he said. "Whoever does it will need to be aggressive. They will really have to sell it. The model is becoming less bureaucratic."

Establishing an adequate marketing budget and finding the right people to market the facility must be prime concerns, he said.

One of the pitfalls Owensboro must avoid, according to Alberts, is focusing only on the inside of the convention center and not engaging its surroundings. Those surroundings should include "authentic" elements that draw people to downtown, he said. Louisville's downtown attractions all have historical Louisville connections -- the Ali center, Louisville Slugger Museum, Slugger Field and the riverfront park. Owensboro should attempt the same, Alberts said. He mentioned bluegrass and barbecue as elements that could be emphasized.

"What distinguishes Owensboro? They need to be highlighted," he said. "Do things related to the culture of the city and do them well."

Something like that may already be in the works, or at least in the talking stages. There's been mention of moving the International Bluegrass Music Museum from its location adjacent to the RiverPark Center to a stand-alone museum with an amphitheater, perhaps on the Executive Inn property.

Steve Vied, 691-7297, svied@messenger-inquirer.com

Monday, June 28, 2010

Economic Development Strategic Planning Session Tonight

The public is invited to join the staff and board of directors of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation for a public input session on the regional economic development strategy tonight at 7 pm in the Advanced Technology Center at Owensboro Community and Technical College. For more information about the EDC Strategic Planning process please visit http://edc.owensboro.com/data/Strategic_Planning_2015

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hospital Contract Brings New Jobs to Pilot Steel

Ray Assmar said Wednesday that Pilot Steel, his nine-year-old Owensboro metal fabrication company, has landed a contract for providing 900 tons of fabricated steel to be used in construction of the $385 million hospital Owensboro Medical Health System is building on Daniels Lane.

And that will create 10 new jobs at the company.

"That will be enough work to keep 20 to 30 men busy through the end of February," he said. "We'll have to bring in a few more people."

Employment at the company owned by Ray and Susan Assmar has ranged from a high of 25 to a low of 10 in the past year, Assmar said.

"We're at 18 now," he said. "And we're going to need to add 10 more for this project."

Fabrication of the steel should start in mid- to late July, and he'll need to bring in new people sometime in August, he said.

"We'll have to go to two, maybe three shifts," Assmar said. "This will keep us busy while we're looking for other jobs to bid on. It takes a lot of pressure off."

The company has 70,000-square feet of manufacturing space on 15 acres along the Ohio River at 2301 Triad Drive on the western edge of Owensboro.

Pilot Steel is a company Owensboro almost lost in 2005.

By that year, it had outgrown its space at 3108 Fairview Drive and was looking at out-of-town sites.

"We were offered a building in Lexington," Assmar said that year. "But the mayor (Tom Watson) went to bat for us and helped us get this facility in Owensboro. I'm just happy we could stay in Owensboro."

Local projects done by Pilot Steel include the ice arena, the new downtown parking garage and the east office building at The Springs.

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

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kuegel Assumes Role as EDC Board Chair

Daviess County farmer and agri-businessman Rod Kuegel will take over duties as Chairman of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation next week. Kuegel succeeds Darrell Higginbotham, the Daviess County President of Independence Bank, who served as EDC Chair since 2007.

Kuegel is excited to take over as chair and recognizes the contributions of Higginbotham in leading the organization through its current strategic plan which greatly expanded the scope of the region's economic development efforts. "I am taking over the role of chair at a time when the EDC is well positioned for the future thanks to the leadership and accomplishments of Darrell during the two and a half years he served as chair," he said.

"From the revitalization of downtown to our work in supporting existing businesses and new entrepreneur-based startups, I anticipate much of that work will begin to pay dividends with private investment in the coming years," said Kuegel.

Higginbotham said it has been an honor to serve as chair of the EDC Board during such an exciting time. "I am most proud of the fact that whatever the issue the tenor of conversation and actions taken by the EDC board and staff have always been about what is in the best interest of moving this region forward. I have been blessed to serve with a committed and engaged board. Our EDC staff is truly one of the best in the state."

EDC President/ CEO Nick Brake said Kuegel is the eighth chair of the organization in the 17 years in which the private sector has provided leadership at the board level. Kuegel is the first board chair from the agriculture sector of the economy.

EDC Strategic Planning Public Meeting Scheduled for June 28 at 7 pm at OCTC

The GO-EDC is currently working on a new strategic plan and comprehensive economic development strategy for the region.

The public is invited to attend a public input session on June 28, 2010 at 7 pm in the Advanced Technology Center at Owensboro Community and Technical College for a presentation and discussion of the regional economy.

Please visit the following link on the EDC Website Strategic Planning Page to access background materials about the EDC stategic priorities and planning process.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Daramic Calls Back Employees

About 25 operations employees at Daramic Inc. have been called back to work, and the plant has experienced a turnaround, company officials say.

The company also has announced that it sees "a strong possibility for continued growth in 2011."

Plans also call for hiring more engineers and other local professionals, according to a corporate document.

"A lot of positive things have happened," said Gerard Gaudry, Daramic's site manager. "We went through some rough times, and we just wanted the community to know that things are getting better."

Daramic's records show the company now has 104 hourly employees and 37 salaried.

Layoffs from January through March this year totaled 47 hourly and five salaried workers.

The plant at 5525 U.S. 60 East makes battery separators. It lost a large domestic customer in 2008 that resulted in less production and job eliminations.

The Owensboro company is part of North Carolina-based Polypore International, which operates in nine countries on six continents.

In 2009, the recession hampered plans to improve the Owensboro company's competitiveness, officials said.

The company's restructuring announcement in November 2009 said half of its 180 workers would be laid off in January of this year. At that time, there was a possibility the plant would close. In fact, most of the plant was idled.

"Amid uncertainties, all the Owensboro employees regrouped and developed a renewed sense of urgency with a new result-oriented attitude," the corporate document states.

The company lists several "dramatic performance improvements" including 100-plus days without an incident, 98 percent on-time delivery and above target productivity.

"The Owensboro plant has consistently met production goals and lowered operating costs below target," the announcement said.

The improved performance creates new opportunities such as shipping the battery separators to Asia, a demanding and fast-growing market.

"New product launches in North America are under way to increase the Daramic market share by differentiating our products from the competition," officials said.

The 50-year-old local plant opened as a division of W.R. Grace and became Daramic in 1994 with 226 employees listed.

Daramic was unionized in 1961 with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 726 representing members.

More than 160 union members went on strike from Aug. 6 to Sept. 30, 2008.

Derrick Griffin, vice president of Local 726, said the union is very happy about the call-back.

"We would like to see all of them called back," he said. "The company has indicated that production will pick up toward the end of the year or the first of next year, and more could go back to work."

Griffin said he didn't have his list in front of him, but about 30 to 40 people remain laid off.

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

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

1,500 Attend Hospital Groundbreaking, Construction Underway

About 1,500 people attended Owensboro Medical Health System's official groundbreaking for its new hospital Saturday morning.

It's about two miles from its current location, but Bonnie Brown called it an "incalculably large leap" for some to undertake.

Brown, the manager of pastoral care at OMHS, said when the new hospital is built in 2013, the community will leave a place on Parrish Avenue that's "been a presence for over 70 years, and the safety of the familiar, and the sacredness of so many events that we've all experienced (there).

"It's difficult to imagine a new place and a new way to be, breaking through that crustiness of the way things have been in the past, and breaking through to something new," she said.

The Daniels Lane site is a 150-acre plot that will be home to a nine-story, 447-bed facility, costing $385 million. Thus far, the ground has been cleared and leveled with steel expected to rise in the fall, according to Merrill Bowers, the project manager from Nashville's Turner Construction.

Saturday's event included a 5K walk/run in which more than 1,100 people took part. It started at the current OMHS campus and concluded at the new site just off Pleasant Valley Road.

Jeff Barber, the hospital's president and CEO, walked the 5K and quoted Confucius: "The journey of a 1,000 miles begins with the first step."

"We took a lot of steps today," he added. "It's good to know that along the way, you have others committed to make the journey with you."

The free community event on the northwest corner of the property also included games, activities and music before officials got down to the business of praising OMHS' vision and commitment to the new facility.

Finally, about a dozen groups representing different areas of the community, such as churches, schools and, of course, OMHS and elected officials, turned dirt with ceremonial chrome shovels.

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie told the crowd that Washington is "struggling with cost and access" to health care, but it still comes back to "care and service."

"As wonderful as this building is going to be, it's still about the doctors, nurses and staff who really care about the patients," Guthrie said.

State Sen. David Boswell said the state-of-the-art hospital will "contain the cost of health care through integrated technology and advancements in early detection and prevention."

Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne noted that the city is "on the move, unlike so many others, which are struggling just to meet their basic needs."

"We have close to $700 million of public projects funded and underway, creating an economic impact of over $1 billion, and an estimated 11,000 construction jobs, and the hospital is the biggest project on that list," he said.

Daviess County Judge-Executive Reid Haire referenced the history of local medical care, saying, "Over 100 years ago, the German immigrant community here built the first hospital in Owensboro on the outskirts of the city across the railroad tracks at the intersection of Parrish and Triplett streets. And now, we're beginning a new chapter in healing for this community, on the outskirts of the city, beyond the railroad tracks."

Twice throughout the three-hour celebration, trains on nearby tracks rolled past, punctuating Haire's remarks.

"Out here, on ground where food was grown, healing will take place, for this is healing earth," Haire said.

Rich Suwanski, 691-7315, rsuwanski@messenger-inquirer.com

Groups team up for Biotechnology Camp for Young Students

After 15 young scientists arrived at the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden earlier this week, they were greeted by two Daviess County Sheriff Department deputies.

Professor Nico Tiana was missing, and the deputies had questions for -- and needed help from -- the students. The scientists, who are also students ages 9 to 12, spent Monday morning exploring the garden and gathering samples during the first day of Mystery at Biotech Summer Camp.

By Tuesday morning, they were in a lab on the third floor of the Owensboro Museum of Science and History, where they learned about aquatic organisms, identified pond organisms and studied the susceptibility of bacteria to antibiotics.

"It's been really cool," Austin Simmons, 11, of Cloverport said on Tuesday. "We found all kinds of clues (and) codes."


The campers found Nico Tiana's lab book at the botanical garden. Several of her lab technicians were sick, and the campers needed to discover what was wrong with them as well.

"It sounded as though there was opportunity for all to feel some success in that gathering of evidence," said Susie Tyler, botanical garden director. "A variety of the campers made the discoveries."

Mystery at Biotech Summer Camp is a product of the Budding Biotech program, which is a partnership of the science and history museum, botanical garden, Owensboro Medical Health System, Kentucky Bioprocessing, Owensboro Cancer Research Program and Owensboro Community & Technical College.

The Budding Biotech program is wrapping up its first year, and it was underwritten by a $37,560.83 grant from OMHS. Students have been participating in biotech activities since last fall.

A Biotechnology Expo for middle school students interested in science is Thursday night at OCTC.

Officials are applying for another OMHS grant for the program so it will remain free for school groups, said Kathy Olson, executive director of the science and history museum.


The summer camp is a success, she said, and organizers would eventually like to attempt a two-day camp for families.

Fifteen students are participating in the mystery camp. The young scientists' adventures will take them to Kentucky Bioprocessing later this week.

"They're going to get to use some equipment and see some things that a lot of people don't get to see," Olson said.

The students spent Tuesday morning wearing aprons as they analyzed samples they gathered the previous day. Austin said the students were hoping to figure out what made Nico Tiana's lab techs sick so that they could make an antidote or medicine.

Jackie Noffsinger, 11, of Bremen, and Owensboro residents Caroline Shutt, 9, and Kayla Ruth, 10, all said they were enjoying the camp.

"I like how we got to actually do real samples and got to use real stuff that people use," Kayla said.

Caroline said she liked being able to explore the botanical garden as they looked for clues.

The camp reminded Jackie of a TV show she enjoys.

"I like watching 'NCIS,' and I thought it would be interesting to solve a mystery and sort of do the stuff behind solving crimes," she said.

Beth Wilberding, 691-7307, bwilberding@messenger-inquirer.com

A Biotechnology Expo for middle school students interested in science and math is from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the Owensboro Community & Technical College Advanced Technology Center. For more information on the Budding Biotech program, visit www.buddingbiotech.net.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sports arena not recommended for downtown center

By Steve Vied, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Thursday, May 27, 2010 1:14 AM CDT
The "optimal" downtown Owensboro events center will be packed with amenities, but what it should not have is a sports arena.

That was among the chief recommendations made by consulting firms hired to assist a local steering committee planning the events center.

On Wednesday, representatives of CityVisions Associates of Louisville and ConsultEcon of Boston told the steering committee that the Sportscenter is the best place for large sports events, leaving the downtown center to concentrate on conventions, trade shows, business conferences, consumer shows, music and entertainment shows, community events and smaller athletic events.

CityVisions managing partner Barry Alberts said Owensboro is in a good position to create a unique facility that will do even in a competitive market. But he also said facilities that combine convention centers and sports arenas serve neither market very well.

"Major events such as basketball should stay at the Sportscenter," Alberts said. "It's 60 years old, but it's really well maintained. ... National experience suggests that arenas and convention centers (together) are expensive to create and do not provide optimal facilities and space for either purpose."

CityVisions and ConsultEcon presented two sizes of events centers. The optimal center contains 138,350 square feet -- big enough to attract more than 180,000 visitors a year and produce $1.9 million in annual operating revenue.

It would feature such amenities as a 40,000-square-foot, dividable convention space, four ballrooms totaling 14,000 square feet, a room overlooking the Ohio River and a lecture hall with tiered seating. It would book 12 conventions or trade shows a year, 35 business conferences, 14 consumer shows and 20 music and entertainment events, they said.

The consultants also suggested adding a 20,000- to 40,000-square-foot inflatable fabric structure to create additional space for larger trade shows and athletic events.

At $250 per square foot in estimated construction costs, building the optimally sized events center would cost about $34 million, considerably more than the approximately $27 million the city and county budgeted to spend on the center. However, the consultants also presented a "minimal" option calling for just under 100,000 square feet that would cost about $25 million.

The smaller center would have smaller spaces in general, a less than full-service kitchen and not include the river overlook room or lecture hall.

What may happen, Owensboro mayor and steering committee member Ron Payne said, is the events center will be built somewhere between the minimum and the optimal sizes.

"My feeling is, something in between, but we have to determine the available dollars and the operating costs, and I don't have those numbers."

Payne said the city may decide to spend more than its original $7 million commitment to the events center if the money can be found in its nearly $60 million downtown revitalization project fund.

"I don't want to spend $25 million and it not be enough and we're not in the game and not be competitive," Payne said. "We've got to do it right. ... We may have to spend more dollars up front."

Alberts and Bob Brais of ConsultEcon didn't get any arguments about excluding a sports arena from the events center. Much of the discussion centered on the proper size of the building. The smaller version would attract fewer events, and annual revenue would be closer to $1.2 million, while operating costs would not be proportionately less than the larger facility, Alberts said.

"Are we saying if we spend a little more up front, are we going to make more money in the long run?" Payne asked.

"We were surprised that the opportunity was a robust as it is," Alberts said. "With a larger center, it really improves. In our experience, the more reputable trade shows and conventions go back to places that really served them well. The best facilities focus on good marketing."

"Does the minimal facility differentiate us from anyone?" City Commissioner David Johnson asked.

It does, Alberts answered, because of the events center's connection to the redeveloped riverfront. He said the RiverPark Center, the three-block-long revamped river wall/Smothers Park area and the events center will offer visitors a compact, walkable area with great views of the Ohio River.

The smaller events center will be distinctive but not as marketable as the larger version, Alberts said.

"As you move to the larger facility, you are able to do more marketing and have more presence," said Brais, who joined by conference call from Boston. "You will also have a 'close the deal' type of space."

Malcolm Bryant, the developer building a downtown hotel that will be connected to the events center, said nothing he heard Wednesday caused him to be concerned. He said he agreed with the consultants' recommendation that the events center focus on meetings and conventions.

"No. 1, it needs to be well done," Bryant said. "No. 2, it needs to take advantage of the river. The next step is to develop a site plan. Will the VFW be a go? Will it incorporate the McConnell Plaza?"

The city has approached the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 696 about selling the riverfront property to the city. McConnell Plaza is immediately west of the VFW.

The next meeting of the steering committee is at 9 a.m. June 9 at the Daviess County Courthouse.

Steve Vied, 691-7297, svied@messenger-inquirer.com

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

General Assembly approves funding for final leg of Interstate Connector

The road plan the Kentucky General Assembly approved just before midnight Saturday has $88.2 million worth of projects for Daviess County over the next two years, Rep. Tommy Thompson and Sen. David Boswell said Monday.

That includes $34.62 million to complete the 4.9-mile bypass extension in eastern Daviess County. Once complete, the bypass extension will form a four lane connector between Interstate 64 in southern Indiana and Interstate 65 in Bowling Green. 

"This is our interstate," said Nick Brake, President/CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. "We are creating a four lane highway between I-64 and I-65, and the main center is going to be Owensboro. The area around the new hospital will grow with retail and commercial development much like you would see around an exit from an interstate. This is Owensboro's exit on the interstate highway system!"