Thursday, March 31, 2011

Go-ahead given for U.S. Bank expansion



BY JOY CAMPBELL, MESSENGER-INQUIRER
Published: Thursday, March 31, 2011 12:20 AM CDT
The city of Owensboro now has the green light to construct the second phase of the building it is leasing to U.S. Bank Home Mortgage in the Mid-America Airpark.

The expansion paves the way for about 275 more jobs.

Start date on the $2.8 million expansion is May 2 with completion expected Sept. 16, said Tony Cecil, the city's operations manager.

"This is great news," Mayor Ron Payne said Tuesday. "To follow up last week's ribbon-cutting of Phase I in that beautiful facility and then be notified today that they're ready to move ahead with Phase II, is just great news for the city."



Payne said it solidifies more than 500 new jobs for Owensboro.

The home mortgage servicing company announced in July that it would invest more than $14 million and create 500 positions through an incentive partnership with the city and state.

The state and city together are giving the company more than $6 million for the expansion.

Hiring for the first phase started earlier this month when 150 of 250 jobs in the first group were opened.

New U.S. Bank mortgage employees will earn $12 to $14 per hour, including benefits, base and incentive pay, according to Executive Vice-President Bob Smiley.

"We've had a lot of good news in the last few days," the mayor said. "The state announcing that it will award the contract for widening Southtown Boulevard -- it's just great."


The City Commission already has taken action to allow construction on the second phase to start, Payne said.

In August 2009, the City Commission approved spending up to $12.5 million to build the call center on 13.5 acres in the MidAmerica Airpark.

The Phase I building, which opened for business Monday, is 47,900 square feet and cost $4.87 million.

A&K Construction of Paducah won the original bid to construct the call center, and the company's proposal included an add-on for Phase II of $2.8 million, Cecil said.

The construction company originally only guaranteed its price for six months, but representatives have agreed to honor that price, Cecil said.

"We're going to initiate that add-on option and ask for a change order to move forward," he said.

A&K will add 33,400 square feet and build 204 more parking spaces.

"Basically, it's an expansion for more employee work spaces and restrooms," Cecil said.

When the 525 new jobs are filled, U.S. Bank Home Mortgage's employment will be about 1,600.

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.”


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Mixed Use Development Planned for Bates Building in Downtown Owensboro


Terry Woodward said Thursday 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.

Woodward plans to spend a year or more restoring and repairing the Bates Building.

Woodward closed the deal on the buildings and the lot on Wednesday, buying the property from Jeff Barber and his wife and real estate agent JoAnn Risner.

"I don't have plans to buy the American Legion," Woodward said. "I'll take it one step at a time. I will make it my priority to bring these buildings back. Obviously, by the time they are finished, probably Smothers Park and the street will be finished. I think it will be a spectacular waterfront if you want my opinion."

Woodward's plans for the Bates Building include retail on the first floor and apartments on the second and third floors.

"It has very high ceilings and ornate woodwork and staircases," Woodward said.

Patti's ReSale is welcome to stay, Woodward said.

Patti Acquisto, owner of Patti's ReSale, expressed excitement about Woodward's purchase and his plans for the Bates Building.

"From the information we have been given by the Realtors, Terry desires for us to stay," she said. "We don't want to move. ... We're just ecstatic that he's going to do something with the building next door. Whatever bridges we have to cross, we'll cross them."

A church, PromiseLand Metro, currently holds services in the ground floor of the Bates Building, which was built in the 1880s and first housed a bank. Woodward said he hasn't spoken to officials of the church.

In January of 2005, Waterfront LLC, of which Jeff Barber is a partner, purchased 101-103 W. Second St., 105-107 W. Second St., 102-112 Veterans Blvd. and 112 Allen St., from Peachtree Galleries for $900,000. It was unclear Thursday if Woodward's purchase included all the properties Waterfront LLC purchased in 2005.

Barber is president and CEO of Owensboro Medical Health System.

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

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.

Friday, March 25, 2011

U.S. Bank expansion could spark trend for city


By Joy Campbell, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Friday, March 25, 2011 12:20 AM CDT
During the ribbon-cutting on Phase I of the new U.S. Bank Home Mortgage building Thursday, Executive Vice-President Bob Smiley announced that he expects to get approval to move ahead with Phase II next week.

In terms of jobs, that means about 275 more people will be hired for the second construction phase, bringing the total number of new jobs to 525.

But this expansion is about even more than these jobs, officials said.

With the economy shifting from heavy manufacturing, having a national mortgage company as a major employer expanding in Owensboro provides an opportunity to diversify the city's work force, said Nick Brake, president and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp.



"We've been successful in retaining (some) manufacturers, but there's not a lot of growth nationally," Brake said. "This allows us to grow in the business, professional and financial sector."

Brake praised the mortgage company for its vision and ability to grow through the financial crisis.

"And that all goes back to an entrepreneur here in Owensboro years ago," he said.

Brake praised George Greenwell's innovative work at Lincoln Service Corp. in using technology to service loans.

Lincoln is the forerunner to U.S. Bank Home Mortgage.

The mortgage company's growth here also can spur more development, Brake said.


"We've had a lot of other inquiries for call centers," he said. "The more of this sector business you have in this area, the more attractive you are to others. It makes us more competitive."

The area's strength in the financial and business professional sector can be a magnet for back-office types of businesses, customer service centers and companies that sell products such as pharmaceuticals online.

"In real terms, this has a definite economic impact," Mayor Ron Payne said just before the ribbon-cutting. "But in terms of morale for Owensboro, it's also great. To be out here adding jobs -- more than 500 -- speaks worlds for Owensboro."

Payne called the ribbon-cutting the first of many to come, culminating with the new Owensboro Medical Health System in 2013.

Other projects include the National Guard Armory's Readiness Center and a new tenant for the former state office building, a new downtown hotel and an events center.

The bank is investing about $14.1 million in the expansion. Incentives from the city and state total more than $6 million. The city is building the facility and leasing it to the company at below-market rate, officials said.

The expansion would not have happened without the incentives, Brake said. Other communities that had existing capacity were courting the bank.

Hiring to fill the mortgage servicing jobs is going well, Smiley said. The company opened 150 jobs about two weeks ago.

In addition to new hires, employees from other U.S. Bank Home Mortgage locations in the city will move into the building.

Kara Knable said she and about 20 employees she manages at the Frederica Street location will move in on Monday.

"We're excited about moving into a new building," she said.

Linda Mitchell, assistant vice president of human resources, said the region has a great work force pool. Forty-six people already have been hired with more lined up.

Applications are available at www.usbank.com.

"I will say this to people, when you go online and see the jobs posted, don't be afraid of the job titles," Mitchell said. "We will train you. We're looking for people with good work ethics and good job history. Other than that, we'll train you."

To simplify the search for online applications, type in the key word "mortgage," she said.

Company policies also do not prevent multiple family members from working for the company, she said.

"We're a family-based company. We just wouldn't have you working in the same department," Mitchell said. "We tell people that we're the largest small company you'll work for."

The 525 jobs from this two-phase expansion will put U.S. Bank Home Mortgage's local employment at almost 1,600.

In 2009, the bank added about 300 jobs and built a 50,000-square-foot office building in Highland Pointe off Kentucky 54.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New certificate available to students at OCTC


By Dariush Shafa, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Thursday, March 24, 2011 12:36 AM CDT
A new certificate program is available at Owensboro Community & Technical College through a partnership with the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp.

The Financial and Customer Services certificate will be available starting as a pilot program in the fall semester.

Administrators at OCTC and the EDC said the certificate will expand opportunities for Owensboro's students, present and future.

Taught through the business department at OCTC, the certificate will require four classes. Topics for those classes range from basic customer service to communications to finance and money.



They are available to both present traditional students and dual-credit high school students attending through Discover College.

The courses can also be used for an associate's degree or beyond.

"All the courses within the certificates are offered at OCTC. There's no new courses created," said Stacy Edds-Ellis, associate dean of academic affairs. "It's a clear pathway to build upon in the business sector. It also provides a great dual-credit opportunity through Discover College. What we are hoping it does for the students is the same thing it does for the community, and that is to meet a need."

Nick Brake, president of the EDC, said this is one more example of tailoring education to meet Owensboro's need for employees at businesses like U.S. Bank or First Security Bank.

"We have multiple partnerships with the college in helping focus their preparation on work force development," Brake said. "This most recent one is important because so many jobs nationally and locally are really tied to professional services and the financial sector is a growing sector here."

Brake said as jobs become available Owensboro residents should be able to snap them up, and this certificate helps make that possible.


"It's a really good pathway that aligns with where jobs are going both locally and nationally," Brake said. "The jobs are really out there. You're seeing these kinds of things present themselves. Students can actually start in high school in this pathway, so it presents a lot of options, and it's general enough so that it doesn't pigeonhole students as they climb the educational ladder."

A ribbon cutting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. today for the new U.S. Bank loan servicing center. About 215 people will be moved into the new building, which should be open for business by Monday.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

“Buck$ for Bright Ideas” the Owensboro Region's Innovative Business Idea Competition

Buck$ for Bright Ideas is a publicly funded program that encourages residents in our region of the state to move forward with their “bright ideas.” Many people in our part of the state have innovative ideas that could become the foundation for a new business. Some of those people need help moving forward toward commercialization. The eMerging Ventures Center for Innovation is here to help with that effort. Our business development experts will work with you to turn your idea into a business reality!

Complete a simple application and compete for over $25,000 worth of valuable prizes. There will be multiple winners who will receive free services from regional professional firms for market research, patent research, accounting support, product design help and more.  All applicants are eligible to receive one-on-one assistance with their idea at no charge!  All ideas submitted will be held in strict confidence.

The application deadline is April 15. An awards banquet for all participants is planned for April 28 at 6:00 PM at the Innovation and Commercialization Center located at the WKU Center for Research and Development at 2413 Nashville Rd.  in Bowling Green.

For more information on the program and an application form, go to www.BucksForBrightIdeas.com. You can also contact Madison Silvert at eMerging Ventures. Phone: 270.663-1050. Email: msilvert@owensboro.com.

US 231 opening brings Owensboro one step closer to I-64/ I-65 Corridor Connector


The completion of the four-lane US 231 from the Natcher Bridge in Owensboro to Interstate 64 in Dale, Indiana has brought the region one step closer to the interstate system.

As Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels cuts the ribbon to open the Indiana side today only a 2-mile stretch of the Owensboro By-Pass Extension project remains to complete the 100-mile, four-lane route connecting I-64 in Dale to I-65 in Bowling Green.

The Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation are marketing this new four-lane route as the Interstate 64-65 Corridor Connector. The Owensboro exit around Kentucky 54 and the new hospital will be at the mid-point of this corridor.

"This will become Owensboro's exit on the national interstate network," said Nick Brake, President/CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. "The commercial development along this corridor should be significant for this region."


The Natcher Parkway will eventually become an interstate spur connecting to I-65.

"We are well on our way to transforming Owensboro from a community that has traditionally been considered somewhat 'transportation poor' to one that is fully intermodal," said Chamber of Commerce President Jody Wassmer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ribbon Cutting Tuesday on US 231 Corridor in Indiana

DALE, Ind.—The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) Vincennes District will celebrate the opening of the new U.S. 231 Corridor with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1:30 p.m. local time, Tuesday, March 15. The event will be held at the new U.S. 231 and State Road 162 interchange.

WHO: Governor Mitch Daniels, INDOT Commissioner Michael B. Cline, Vincennes District Deputy Commissioner Rusty Fowler, and local officials

WHEN: 1:00 p.m. (local time) Tuesday, March 15

WHERE: The new U.S. 231 southbound lanes, on the southwest side of the interchange.

WHAT: Opening of the new four-lane U.S. 231 Corridor in Spencer County. Governor Mitch Daniels’ Major Moves project improves safety and mobility of motorists using U.S. 231. Construction of the new corridor provides a wider, safer roadway for motorists.

PARKING: Please follow staff on site for parking location.

INDOT reminds motorists to follow the posted work zone speed limit, use caution and consider worker safety when traveling through a construction zone. For the latest news and information about INDOT, please visit www.in.gov/indot.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

GO-EDC seeking Downtown Project Manager

The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation is seeking a Project Manager to coordinate investment attraction efforts for downtown Owensboro. Qualifications: Bachelor’s or advanced degree required. Experience and/or education in planning, urban development and/or business development preferred. Competitive compensation based on applicant’s experience and qualifications. Submit cover letter and resume to edc@owensboro.com