Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Owensboro Recognized as a Top MSA by Area Development

WESTBURY, N.Y., June 26, 2012 Area Development, the premier publication covering site selection and facility planning, recently ranked 365 MSAs across 23 economic and work force indicators, which were pulled from seven (7) data sets originating with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and U.S. Census American Community Survey. Based on these rankings, the publication has announced its Leading Locations for 2012.

Columbus(IN) ranks first overall, followed in the remaining top-10 spots by Odessa (TX), Lafayette (LA), Bismarck (ND), Fargo (ND-MN), Midland (TX), San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (CA), Casper (WY), Morgantown (WV), and Columbia (MO). Based on overall results, MSAs were ranked across nine (9) regions, as well as according to size in three categories, “Big Cities,” “Mid-Size Cities,” and “Small Cities.” They were also ranked within the “Economic Strength,” “Prime Workforce Growth,” and “Recession-Busting” categories, with each category based on selected indicators used to establish the overall rankings.

Regional leaders are Boston-Cambridge-Quincy (MA); Pittsburg (PA); Morgantown (WV); Columbus (IN), which also led among Top 50 Small Cities; Lafayette (LA), which also led among Top 50 Mid-Size Cities; Odessa (TX); Bismarck (ND); Casper (WY); and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (CA), which also led among Top 50 Big Cities. The overall leader for “Economic Strength” was Lafayette (LA); for “Prime Workforce Growth,” the leader was Ithaca (NY); and for ““Recession-Busting” indicators Bismarck (ND) ranked first.

"The Leading Locations are MSAs that have managed to thrive and get back on their feet quickly after the recession," said Geraldine Gambale, editor of Area Development.“These MSAs are leaders based on their economic strengths; growth of their young, educated work forces; and recession-busting characteristics. They deserve special recognition for their efforts.”

The full report on the Leading Locations will be published in the Summer 2012 issue of Area Development andposted online at

Area Developmentis published bi-monthly and has 45,000+ executive subscribers. It also maintains several highly visited websites, which can be reached through


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Owensboro leaders promote biotech efforts at BIO conference

With the goal of showcasing Kentucky’s growing biotechnology industry on a global stage, Owensboro economic development officials and Judge Executive Al Mattingly joined Governor Steve Beshear at the 20th annual BIO (Biotechnology Industry Organization) International Convention in Boston.

As the largest global event for the biotechnology industry, the annual convention attracts the biggest names in biotech, offers networking and business opportunities for Kentucky companies and research institutions, and provides insights on the trends impacting the industry.

“The Commonwealth is known worldwide for our robust bourbon industry, famous horse farms and championship basketball teams, but we’re also making great strides in emerging innovative and high-tech fields,” Gov. Beshear said. “Kentucky is home to some of the world’s foremost scientists and researchers, and the annual BIO convention allows us the opportunity to showcase our technologies and the advantages Kentucky offers to the industry.”

"Owensboro played a prominent role in the Kentucky Pavilion at the conference," said Daviess County Judge Executive Al Mattingly. "We have invested in infrastructure, including the Centre for Business and Research and our working on a strategy to grow plant biotech and food companies in our region."

As a result of Kentucky’s efforts to attract and cultivate homegrown innovative and high-tech companies, the Commonwealth now boasts more than 1,800 bioscience and life science companies with more than 100,000 people working in advanced research and development fields such as nutrigenomics and therapeutics to treat cancer, including those development in conjunction with Kentucky BioProcessing in Owensboro.

Kentucky supports innovators and high-tech entrepreneurs with the nation’s only comprehensive matching funds program for federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants.

“Kentucky is advancing every year in the areas of innovation and biotechnology,” said Gov. Beshear. “At BIO, we’ll send a strong message to the world that Kentucky is helping innovative companies move forward, making our world better for all of us with improved healthcare, more productive agriculture and a safer, cleaner environment.”

The convention attracts nearly 2,000 exhibitors and up to 20,000 attendees representing 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations from the United States and more than 60 other countries. Members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Boston,United States

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Owensboro and Northwest Kentucky region ranked among top regions in South

Owensboro, Henderson and the entire northwest Kentucky region have been ranked in the top 10 for high tech and manufacturing by Southern Business and Development, an economic development publication.

Owensboro was listed among the ten Southern markets fostering technology for efforts to grow and recruit the plant pharmaceutical and food science industry in the region.    The publication points to investments in higher education and the development of the Centre for Business and Research as evidence of the high tech environment growing in Owensboro.   Among the other regions recognized were Austin, TX; Orlando, FL; Oak Ridge and Chattanooga, TN; and Savannah, GA.   Click here to read the article.

Henderson was singled out as a top region for manufacturing location in the South.  Low power costs and the newly developed I-69 corridor were among the primary reasons listed by SBD for the top 10 ranking.
Click here to read about it.

Owensboro and Northwest Kentucky region ranked among top regions in South

Owensboro, Henderson and the entire northwest Kentucky region have been ranked in the top 10 for high tech and manufacturing by Southern Business and Development, an economic development publication.

Owensboro was listed among the ten Southern markets fostering technology for efforts to grow and recruit the plant pharmaceutical and food science industry in the region.    The publication points to investments in higher education and the development of the Centre for Business and Research as evidence of the high tech environment growing in Owensboro.   Among the other regions recognized were Austin, TX; Orlando, FL; Oak Ridge and Chattanooga, TN; and Savannah, GA.   Click here to read the article.

Henderson was singled out as a top region for manufacturing location in the South.  Low power costs and the newly developed I-69 corridor were among the primary reasons listed by SBD for the top 10 ranking.
Click here to read about it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

M-I adding jobs in new design hubs

By Joy Campbell Messenger-Inquirer Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

The Messenger-Inquirer has added 33 jobs in a little more than a year by establishing graphics and pagination hubs at its Frederica Street plant to serve numerous daily and weekly newspapers within its parent company, Paxton Media Group.

The daily newspaper's copy desk added 25 people who are now designing and laying out 13 daily newspapers and 10 weeklies within the Paxton group. Those papers are in Kentucky, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

A second pagination center is being developed at the Paducah Sun to serve additional Paxton papers.

The graphics hub in Owensboro has added eight new jobs and is designing and building ads for 32 daily and 15 weekly newspapers within the corporation. The other half of that center is in St. Joseph, Mich., at the Herald-Paladium newspaper, which has added seven designers, bringing the total new jobs at both hubs to 40.

Messenger-Inquirer Publisher Bob Morris said the work in Owensboro is gaining attention throughout the publishing business.

"At least a half-dozen newspapers have been on site to see what we're doing, and another half-dozen have called about it," Morris said.

The new business centers are "a tremendous investment and opportunity for Owensboro," said Nick Brake, president and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp.

"I know that this was a competitive decision, and the organization weighed several options it had," Brake said. "We're extremely proud we're going to be the base for all of this activity. These are talent-based businesses, and a lot of creative, smart people are lining up for these jobs"

New technology is driving change in the industry, which would have occurred somewhere within the Paxton corporation, Morris said.

"At the end of the day, it shows the corporation has confidence in us -- in the tenacity of the individuals leading the development of these centers," Morris said. "It has been a lot of hard work. And if it had not been for these talented individuals, these jobs would be in some other place.

The Paducah-based newspaper chain's publications are concentrated in an area from the Gulf to Lake Michigan near the Canadian border and on the East Coast.

"Being able to use technology and create opportunity here has been very rewarding," Morris said.

The newspaper industry has had its critics who say the print medium has failed to adapt to changes in communication technology, said Matt Francis, the Messenger-Inquirer's executive editor who helped lead the creation of the pagination hub.

"The long-held business model of having numerous newspapers performing the same tasks each day and each week is difficult to support with changes we've seen on the revenue side," Francis said. "We needed to find a way to reduce duplication and maximize our ability to generate content. I do think we're out in front on this, and I think you'll be seeing more and more of this new model."

The planning for the new business centers actually started shortly after Morris came to Owensboro seven years ago.

"Our local Owensboro managers saw an opportunity to take technology and leverage it to create opportunities for our existing staff and add positions in Owensboro," Morris said.

The first opportunity came when the newspaper looked for a way to help one of the weekly newspapers in its corporate group, the Franklin Favorite.

"Weekly newspapers have smaller staffs, and when their employees take vacations or have to be out for other reasons, they struggle to get the work done week in and week out," said Mike Weafer, the operations manager at the Messenger-Inquirer. "We had the idea that we could help them with printing and graphics. The opportunities mushroomed from there."

The printing and ad development were moved to the Owensboro plant, and that had a stabilizing effect.

"That showed us that this model could be expanded," Weafer said. "It grew from one weekly to all of the Paxton Media papers."

Francis describes that initial step as "developing a system in which we could maximize resources in production and gain efficiencies on the copy desk to allow us to increase the number of folks on the ground at each paper reporting and producing copy."

For the reader, content is most important, and that makes it the newspaper's bread and butter, he said. "This model creates more resources for reporting without sacrificing the editing aspect of it."

The Owensboro plant began laying out the Madisonville Messenger about four years ago. Then the Vincennes (Ind.) Sun-Commercial was added in late 2008.

"When that worked, I believe it gave the folks in the corporate office confidence that we could do it on an even grander scale," Francis said.

Major keys to success have been the cooperation from both the vendors in creating software and from the staffs at the Paxton newspapers, Weafer said.

"And since we are very reliant on the Internet, we have created access from two different vendors so that if one goes down, we have automatic access from the other," he said. "I think we are one of a few companies in Owensboro, if not the only one, that is doing that."

The new business centers are working, and in some cases, they are creating improvements, he said.

"The folks we have hired are highly skilled and are providing a high level of service to smaller newspapers," Weafer said.

How does it work?

Francis notes that before the change, the newspaper's copy editors and page designers were one and the same requiring both word and design skills.

"We split those and now have copy editors who primarily make sure the copy is clean, select articles, help decide story placement and have journalism backgrounds," he said. "Paginators and designers are creative and visual and have computer skills, but they don't necessarily have journalism degrees. We're not just hiring J-school graduates."

Scott Hagerman, news editor and production hub manager in Owensboro, said the pagination and copy editing jobs are drawing interest from across the country. Many of the 25 new employees have come from the immediate area, but the staff also includes young people from outside the tristate, with hires coming from Arizona, Kansas and New York, among other areas.

Creating the new model has been a challenge, Hagerman said, "but the staff has embraced the change, and it keeps them interested," he said. The page-makers work mostly a 3 p.m. to midnight shift and keep a fast pace.

For the daily papers, Saturday's shift is the most challenging, with an average of 341 pages built for Sunday, Hagerman said. During the week, an average of 216 pages are laid out. For the combined weeklies, about 86 pages per week are created. And for the company's tri-weeklies, the hub makes up an average 48 pages per week.

Those page counts don't include classified pages.

Company-wide, fewer positions are needed in pagination because of the efficiencies the new staffing model has created, Hagerman and Francis said.

For example, at all 13 daily newspapers, at least one person was responsible for the AP wire stories for the front pages. What was taking 13 people to accomplish is now handled by four, because a story that once had to be pulled from the wire 13 different times by an editor at each individual paper, now only has to be pulled once, and then it's dispersed throughout the papers in the hub.

In another time-saver, downloading comics, which takes about an hour a day, was being done 13 times. Now, it's done one time, saving about 12 hours a day in production time at the papers in the hub.

"When this works seamlessly, our papers have their own reporters and editors and we serve as an extension of their newsrooms," Francis said. "It's not much different than if we were sitting in their offices in North Carolina, or Georgia or wherever. And that's how everyone here approaches it. We care about their products just the same as we do the Messenger-Inquirer."

The company uses a web-based editing system. After a reporter completes a story, it goes through multiple edits at the local level before being transported electronically to the Owensboro hub. The Owensboro staff takes the stories and photos, designs and puts together the pages, which are then sent back for any edits and a final sign-off.

"We send the final version of the paper electronically directly from Owensboro to their press room," Francis said. "At that point, it's like any other press run."

Graphics center building ads for all Paxton papers

Brandon Cox is the graphics center manager, and his 32 graphic artists in two locations build all of the advertisements for Paxton Media newspapers. Eighteen of the 32 jobs are in Owensboro.

"Our goal is to produce quality material in an efficient manner," Cox said. "We provide a service to our advertisers who bought ads, and we want the ads to be eye-catching and do the job for them."

The graphic artists routinely are working two to three days ahead. In a routine day, they will work on 800 to 900 ads or about 30 ads per employee.

Cox said he is trying to create a culture at both locations that includes setting the same expectations, taking pride in the work and having fun. He communicates routinely with advertising directors and account executives.

"It's a big operation," Cox said. "What I'm proud of is that a lot of newspapers are sending their design work overseas, but we're keeping ours in the U.S., and in Owensboro."

The graphics hub also integrates new media, creating ads for the Internet.

"We hear a lot about newspapers laying people off," Francis said. "But the reality is our company - and there are others as well - is adapting to the changing business model in a way that is cause for optimism. We have added a significant number of people into an integral part of the paper, and I think that bodes well for the future. It strengthens the position of this newspaper and ensures that it will continue to be the leading source for news in this community going forward."

Joy Campbell, 691-7299,

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Aircraft maintenance firm opens

11 Apr 2012 — Messenger-Inquirer BY: By Joy Campbell

Subhead: MidAmerica Jet, Tri-State Aero are partners

MidAmerica Jet of Owensboro and Tri-State Aero of Evansville have formed a partnership and established Tri-State Aero OWB at the MidAmerica Jet location in the airpark.

The business, already operational, is a full service aircraft maintenance facility. That means it is capable of doing "everything from oil changes to inspections and engine overhauls" as well as full avionics - all the electrical work on aircraft including installation of equipment, said Mark Kemper, director of maintenance.

The business has six employees in Owensboro and nine at Tri-State Aero's facility at the Evansville Regional Airport.

"Basically what we're doing is forming an alliance in which Tri-State Aero will do all the daily maintenance on MidAmerica's jets and planes," said Matt Hayden of MidAmerica Jet. "This is a very competitive industry, and our alliance will allow us to offer more expertise and services to our clients."

MidAmerica Jet's majority interest owners are the Hayden and Randy Hutchinson families. The families bought the company in 2006.

MidAmerica Jet will continue to have its charter business renting planes to the public and will continue to run the fixed base operator business at the airport through which it provides fueling services.

"This also allows us to go after more clients in the maintenance side of the business," Hayden said.

John Zeidler, Tri-State Aero's owner, said the partnership is an opportunity to expand the company's maintenance business and to offer good options for aircraft owners in this part of the tri-state.

"The Owensboro market has been vibrant in the face of a slow economy," Zeidler said. "You're doing great things at the state and local levels."

Tri-State Aero also specializes in working on the Phenom 100 and Beech jets and is a Cirrus Service Center.

MidAmerica operates the Embraer Phenom 100 jets. Last year, Hayden said the company's business plan includes exploring the establishment of an Embraer Service Center.

"This partnership helps us go in that direction," he said Tuesday. "It gives us more footing to get to that or to look at other brands to bring in. We have more mechanics, more avionics, a broader customer base giving us more opportunity to work into those relationships."

Three mechanics have been added in Owensboro since the deal was signed in January.

Mechanics' pay range, based on experience and certifications, is from $11 to $24 per hour plus benefits.

"Basically, we're bringing the capabilities to do all aircraft maintenance to Owensboro - something it hasn't had in five or six years," Kemper said. The company also has applied for a repair station certification with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Tri-State Aero has been in business since 1963.

Both Hayden and Zeidler want to grow their private aviation business. They're anxious to explain how they can help industries to compete.

"An accountant looks at his company spending $100,000 on airline tickets and compares that to $125,000 it may spend for private travel," Zeidler said. "But that doesn't consider the soft costs such as being able to get back home in a day and attend my child's soccer game. Private travel can help to keep employees happy."

Local companies may need to get to places that are not direct flights out of Owensboro, and these partners can help executives figure out a turnkey solution for them, Zeidler said.

"Probably a lot of companies would qualify for private travel if they understand it better," Hayden said. "We want to understand their needs. The best way to find out if it's a good fit is to call. We can show them a lot of scenarios that would have a wide variety of costs."

Joy Campbell, 691-7299,

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cape Air flights a hit at the Owensboro airport

Officials from Cape Air and St. Louis Lambert International Airport celebrate the Cape Air service between OWB and STL to day the Owensboro airport.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

New Company Brings New Technology to Tri-State

By: Zakk Gammon
March 29, 2012

"The days of black smoke from diesel trucks are pretty much over," said Tom Sensbach.

In a world of global warming, Blue Sky Heartlands is trying to clean the air. At the company's grand opening, leaders showed us how it works.

"The main process and quality control of this product is deionized water," said Blue Sky Heartlands Vice President, Robert Arbasetti.

It sounds confusing, but get past the scientific jargon, and what you basically get is a big, blue machine. It removes the hardness from water. When you mix that in with bags of urea, you have Diesel Exhaust Fluid, or DEF for short. It's essentially fertalizer... that goes in your car.

"The trick is it does help your fuel efficiency and just the sound of the engine and the performance of the vehicle itself is improved," Sensbach said.

Not only is this product supposed to control emissions from a diesel vehicle, you also get better gas mileage.
But it's not just a good idea for environmentalists; in 2010, the EPA made it law.

"So it just cleans the engine itself," he said.

All new diesel vehicles made after 2010 come standard with a tank for the DEF liquid. Tom Sensbach says it's inexpensive and can last in your car for several miles, meaning you don't have to fill it up often. It's already available in a lot of places. He says just check your local truck stop and even some gas stations.

So why choose Owensboro? Sensbach says the company's choice for a location was a no-brainer.

"Part of being green is not shipping your product over long distances," he said.

The company is separated into regions. Owensboro's new facility will cover seven states. That keeps more trucks off the road, therefore keeping the environment clean.
And not only is Blue Sky bringing cleaner air, but also a boost to the economy. Company officials are already talking about the future.

"Probably at that point, we'll probably be running 24 hours a day, five days a week."

That means about 15 new jobs in the area. The company isn't hiring just yet, but officials are accepting applications. To apply, visit

Friday, March 16, 2012

We are open for business - ground broken at convention center site

Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 12:00 am

By Steve Vied
Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

On a bright, warm summer-like morning, current and former elected officials and members of the business community gathered Tuesday at the site of the former Executive Inn Rivermont for a ceremonial groundbreaking for what Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne called the community's first true convention center.

Payne noted that when the new downtown convention center opens late next year, it will have been four years since the "Big E" was demolished.

"Spring has come early and it's such an appropriate time for this groundbreaking," Payne told a crowd of well more than 100 people. "The Executive Inn served us well. But we are replanting our convention center. ... We're sending a message to the region, the state and the nation that we are open for business."

Payne, Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly and commercial developer Malcolm Bryant were the speakers for the groundbreaking at Cedar and Second streets for the $48.4 million convention center and the $20 million Hampton Inn & Suites convention class hotel that Bryant's company, The Malcolm Bryant Corp., will build and operate next to the convention center.

The new hotel and the convention center are expected to be completed late next year. The official start of construction of the convention center is set for April 1, although site preparation has already begun. Cranes are due to arrive within the week to begin work on the hotel, Bryant said.

During his remarks, Payne said that a state firefighters association gathering with more than 1,000 participants has already signed up to hold a convention in the convention center in 2015, while the Green River Area Development District will hold its annual meeting featuring 600 people in the facility a week after it opens next fall. The center's first banquet will be Independence Bank's holiday party in December of next year, Payne said.

In addition to Payne, Mattingly and Bryant, others wielding shovels Tuesday were city commissioners Pam Smith-Wright, Roger Stacy, David Johnson and Jeff Sanford and county commissioners Jim Lambert, Charlie Castlen and George Wathen. Also taking part were former city commissioners Candance Brake and John Kazlauskas, former Judge-Executive Reid Haire, former county commissioners Bruce Kunze and Mike Riney and Darrell Higginbotham of Independence Bank. The bank is providing the financing for the hotel project.

The members of the former City Commission and Fiscal Court were in office with Payne when insurance premium tax increases to pay for downtown revitalization projects were approved in 2009, a group Payne called the "dream team."

"They got together a couple of years ago and decided to get together and make things happen," he said. "It's a great city-county team. That group took a bold step forward. Now we have a lot of work to do."

Mattingly described Tuesday's groundbreaking as a great day.

"What the city and county have done is created our own economic boom," he said. "Absent the new hospital and downtown, our economy would not be what it is. It is an example of what government investment can do. This is not a government giveaway. The $140 million public investment has already spurred $65 million to $70 million in private investment. Malcolm has stuck his neck out, and we appreciate it."

The private investment includes a $44 million project that will include a downtown office building for Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, a Holiday Inn and a residential development along the Ohio River to the immediate west and south of the convention center. A news conference is tentatively scheduled for Friday to release details of the project.

Bryant said the design of his company's seven-story hotel was important.

"There was no use wasting time and money if we didn't do it well," he said of the plans for the convention center and hotel. "Now we must turn to marketing to get the word out."

Noel Maddox of Owensboro said he attended the groundbreaking because he wanted to hear about the plans for the convention center.

"I certainly hope it means a big boom for downtown and the city," Maddox said. "We certainly need it. It's somewhat sad we lost the Executive Inn, but I'm glad to see something coming to replace it."

"It's great for Owensboro," said John Survant. "We need to get back on the map with something like this. It's a good thing."

Tree planting under way at Smothers

Three hours after the groundbreaking for the convention center and hotel, another ceremony was held a few blocks east at the Daviess Street end of Smothers Park. Payne and city commissioners Smith-Wright, Stacy and Sanford gathered to toss dirt on the roots of an Appalachian redbud tree, one of 210 trees that will be planted in the park this spring.

Of those trees, 36 will be dogwoods, 34 will be maples, 32 will be redbuds and 32 will be elms. Five sweet bay magnolias with trunks eight to 10 inches in diameter will be planted. Several other varieties will be planted.

"This is a banner day for the city of Owensboro," Payne said. "First we had the groundbreaking, and this afternoon we have been designated a Tree City U.S.A. by the Arbor Day Foundation for the 22nd year. This week we are beginning to plant 210 trees. ... We are going to have color down here all year. Can you imagine in five to 10 years what it will look like? It will be magnificent."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Firm plans glycerin refinery

By Keith Lawrence, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Saturday, March 3, 2012 12:12 AM CST

Owensboro Grain Co.’s 5-year-old biodiesel plant has been running at 100 percent capacity for the past 10 months, pumping out nearly 4 million gallons of fuel a month, Jeff Erb, the company’s chief financial officer, said Friday.

Now, the 106-year-old Owensboro company is getting ready to build a $15 million to $20 million glycerin refinery near the biodiesel plant on Ewing Road, with plans to refine 40 million pounds a year of the product that’s used in cosmetics.

“Proctor & Gamble, which is based in Cincinnati, is one of the biggest buyers of glycerin in the world,” Erb said. “It makes sense for us to do this.”

Crude glycerin is a byproduct of the biodiesel process, he said. The new refinery will turn it into pure glycerin for the cosmetics market.

Gov. Steve Beshear’s office announced Friday that the state’s Agricultural Processing Loan Program has approved a $1.5 million processing loan for Owensboro Grain to build the refinery.

Erb said the new plant, scheduled to be in operation by the summer of 2013, will employ from 10 to 12 people with an average salary of $50,000-plus.

“These are very good jobs,” he said. “There aren’t many of them because the refinery will be highly automated.”

The biodiesel refinery also employs about 10 to 12 people, Erb said.

“In the last decade, we’ve probably added 50 good paying jobs here,” he said.

Erb said he’s not sure of the total cost of the new refinery because it’s being built by a German company and the price will be in euros.

“It’s a great project and a really good company,” said Nick Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. “We love to see that kind of cutting-edge technology here. We’re excited about what’s happening there.”

Owensboro Grain is not one of the companies that has applied for a share of the $1 million in economic development incentives Daviess Fiscal Court is offering, he said.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Gov. Beshear awards Work Ready Community certification to Daviess County

FRANKFORT, Ky. (February 16, 2012) – Governor Steve Beshear announced today that Daviess County is one of the first Kentucky counties to be certified in the Work Ready Communities program. The new certification program from the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board (KWIB) and the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet assures employers that a local workforce has the talent and skills necessary to staff existing jobs and to master the innovative technologies new jobs will require.

“We are excited that Daviess County has achieved Work Ready Community status and we look forward to certifying many others in the future. Work Ready status is not an easy accomplishment. Daviess County leaders are to be commended for working together to achieve this goal,” said Crystal Gibson, chair of the Kentucky Work Ready Communities Review Panel and vice president of Communications and Public Affairs at Citigroup.
“This is an affirmation of all of the partnerships and hard work that has taken place in this region for the past decade in focusing our efforts on workforce development,” said Daviess County Judge Executive Al Mattingly.

Kentucky is the third state to begin certifying counties as Work Ready Communities based on the quality of their labor force. To become certified, communities must gather local support and commitment and apply for the Work Ready Community designation. Counties have to meet criteria in six areas including high school graduation rate, National Career Readiness Certificate holders, demonstrated community commitment, educational attainment, soft-skills development and digital literacy.

“Daviess County is a role model for other communities that want to demonstrate a commitment to reaching education, workforce and economic development goals that make their communities a desirable place for businesses,” said Joseph U. Meyer, secretary of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

Applications for the certification were reviewed by a panel appointed by the KWIB. The panel recommended certification by the board for the counties that met the criteria. The panel will meet three times a year to review applications, which can be submitted at any time.

For more information about the Work Ready Communities program, go to

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

OMHS earns 'Distinguished' mark

By Rich Suwanski, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 12:07 AM CST

Owensboro Medical Health System received HealthGrades’ Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence Award for 2012 on Monday, marking the fourth consecutive year the hospital received the designation.

The award put OMHS among the top 5 percent of more than 5,000 nonfederal hospitals nationwide for clinical performance. OMHS and St. Elizabeth Hospital in Edgewood were the only two Kentucky hospitals receiving the award, putting them among 263 top-performing hospitals.

“I’m very pleased that our quality continues to improve because every other hospital, hopefully, has quality that’s improving,” said Dr. Catharine Schmitt, an OB/GYN and chair of the Medical Staff Quality Committee at OMHS. “With the new legislation that hospitals will be paid for performance rather that just billing and getting paid, it is really important for us to improve our quality.”

HealthGrades is a source of health care provider information. HealthGrades evaluates each of the nation’s 5,000 nonfederal hospitals in 26 procedures and diagnoses. HealthGrades hospital quality distinctions are independently created, and no hospital can opt-in or opt-out of evaluation. No hospital pays to be evaluated.

Mortality and complication rates are risk-adjusted, which takes into account differing levels of severity of patient illness at different hospitals, allowing for hospitals to be compared equally. The report is available online at

OMHS received five-star ratings in the following categories for patients while in the hospital: Back and neck surgery (except spinal fusion), gastrointestinal bleed, heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, respiratory failure, sepsis, stroke and total knee replacement.

Five stars means the better-than-expected outcomes.

OMHS was rated first among Kentucky hospitals for cardiac care, critical care, cardiology, coronary interventional procedures, joint replacement surgery, treatment of gastrointestinal issues, neurosciences and stroke care.

“The most improvement has been in acute heart attack and stroke care,” Schmitt said. “We get people from the door to the emergency room, to the (cardiac catheterization) lab to have a patient’s vessels evaluated and treated much faster (64 minutes) than the national (recommended) average (90 minutes).

“The faster you get them there to prevent permanent damage, the better the results.”

Schmitt said OMHS was also “doing great work” with back and neck surgery.

“It only takes one or two problems in a patient not to get the award,” she said. “So it’s not that we’re home free in any area.

“We have a quality department and peer review committee that look at multiple things. If anything (surfaces) as not being at the best standard of care, we review it so that we can see if there’s a problem with the process, the physicians or the nursing, and find trends before they become problems.”

Unlike other hospital quality studies, HealthGrades evaluates hospitals solely on clinical outcomes: risk-adjusted mortality and in-hospital complications. HealthGrades’ analysis is based on about 40 million Medicare discharges for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010.

“We’ve done this for four years in a row now, which shows that we have excellent quality,” Schmitt said. “It tells people that this is a very safe place to come to, and that the doctors, staff and administration are all working hard to continually improve quality.

“If we do that, it lowers mortality and lowers complication rates and gets people home faster and, hopefully, keeps them home.”

There is an another award OMHS has its sights set on, and that’s becoming one of the top 1 percent of hospitals, which means it must earn the distinguished designation for seven consecutive years.

“It’s a great goal to say we’re one of the top 50 hospitals in the country,” Schmitt said.

Rich Suwanski, 691-7315, or

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Owensboro -Daviess County one step closer to Work Ready designation

The Work Ready Review Panel gave the Daviess County Work Ready application a favorable recommendation to the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board (K-WIB) for certification as a Work Ready Community.

Community representatives, including Judge Executive Al Mattingly, Co-Chair Helen Mountjoy and EDC president Nick Brake made a presentation to the panel yesterday. The presentation was supported by representatives from the education, workforce, Chamber and business community.

The final hurdle will be consideration by the K-WIB for actual certification on February 16 in Frankfort.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Local officials to attend I-67 meeting

12 Jan 2012 — Messenger-Inquirer

BY: By Steve Vied

Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne and Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly plan to attend today's inaugural meeting of the I-67 Development Corporation Board of Directors, scheduled for 10 a.m. in Huntingburg, Ind., for what could be the beginning of finally putting Owensboro-Daviess County on a true interstate highway.

The I-67 group's goal is the completion of a 38-mile, four-lane interstate highway connecting U.S. 231/I-64 at Dale, Ind., to the proposed I-69 at Washington, Ind., said I-67 board of directors member Hank Menke, president of furniture maker OFS Brands of Huntingburg.

If that new road through Dubois and Daviess counties in Indiana gets built, it would create a continuous four-lane interstate highway running from Washington, Ind., through Owensboro and continuing to Bowling Green by making use of the four-lane U.S. 231, the William H. Natcher Bridge over the Ohio River at Maceo and the William H. Natcher Parkway through Daviess, Ohio, Butler and Warren counties, where it would connect with I-65.

That new route would be named I-67, an idea that excites Payne, who said he has accepted the invitation to be a member of the organization and was looking forward to today's meeting in Huntingburg.

"We're going to try and work with them to see if we can make this happen," Payne said. "I'm really excited about the opportunity. ... It would be one of the biggest things to ever happen to our community to have a interstate run though it."

Mattingly is also a member of the new board, which Menke said will act to continue the work that culminated with the four-laning of U.S. 231 from the Natcher Bridge to I-64. That 22-mile section of road opened last year after nearly 30 years of pushing by Indiana and Kentucky supporters. But there are no plans to continue four-laning U.S. 231 north of I-64, Menke said.

Building an all-new route from Dale to Washington would save his company and others hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, Menke said. He did not say when the project might be completed.

"Basically what I'm trying to do is continue the work started by William Natcher and Bill Koch and get that road up through Dubois County and to Washington," Menke said. "We have this beautiful new road (U.S. 231). Kentucky put in $130 million and Indiana put in $160 million. I say take the road from Bowling Green and Owensboro to I-69. It would greatly benefit Owensboro."

Koch, the founder of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Natcher span and the four-laning of U.S. 231 in Spencer County. He died in 2001.

Menke said I-67 could provide a valuable alternative to I-65 through Louisville, where the closure of the (I-64) Sherman Minton Bridge is causing headaches for businesses and travelers. Menke said his company's 175 tractor-trailer rigs need a better north-south route.

"We have a real problem with traffic in Louisville," he said.

Building the Dubois-Daviess county route could cost $500 million or more, Menke said. But Indiana has already spent $7 million on an environmental study. And Menke said he has raised most of the $250,000 from private and public sources for a scoping study .

"I'm trying to take advantage of what's already been done," he said. "We know that state and federal money has dried up, so it could be a toll road."

Mattingly said the project has merit because it creates a new interstate using existing highways and bridges.

"We've already got a bridge across the Ohio River and we will have the (former U.S. 60) bypass extension," Mattingly said. "It won't compete with I-69. It's just an alternate to I-65. The real problem is in Louisville. Think of the trouble we're having with the I-64 bridge. If we are successful in convincing them to build an I-67 path, it would be a tremendous boon to the economy for this community and southern Indiana."

In addition to Menke, Payne and Mattingly, the I-67 board includes the mayors of Huntingburg, Jasper and Washington and representatives of several southern Indiana businesses. Four Indiana elected leaders will serve as advisors to the group.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Angel investment tax credit bill will help Owensboro

This year, once again, legislation has been prefiled that would establish an angel investor tax credit program for individuals who invest in certain small businesses.

The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. has supported the legislation in years past, and EDC officials are hoping the bill will gain traction this year. It could help Owensboro’s efforts to nurture and retain high tech and life sciences start-up companies that require a lot of capital on the front end, local EDC officials said.

“We’ve been supportive of this for several years,” said Madison Silvert, vice president for entrepreneurship and high tech development at the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. “It would provide incentives for qualified investors to invest in Kentucky start-up companies.”

The state incentives already are available for groups such as Lexington’s Blue Angels and Louisville’s Enterprise Angels and Louisville Angels.

This legislation, however, would provide the same incentives to individuals, and that is important for Owensboro and more rural areas of the state where there are no groups in place, Silvert said.

Generally, angel investors supply venture capital to companies that show high-growth prospects or fit well with their own business or are competing in the sector in which they made their mark.

In recent months, Daviess County showed up at No. 9 among 20 counties nationwide on web magazine’s list of counties identified as potentially the next Silicon Valley.

Two areas the online magazine found in fleshing out the counties were broadband availability rates near 100 percent and unemployment rates beating their peers and the nation.

Silvert said recently that having a culture of entrepreneurial investment is a crucial next step for the Owensboro region in attracting and retaining high tech companies.

The EDC and its partners are providing some breaks for several high tech and life sciences companies within the framework of Emerging Ventures, an innovation center/business incubator and the office and lab space offered in the Centre for Business and Research at 1010 Allen St.

“What we hope people understand is that high tech and life sciences companies require large amounts of capital for start-up, but the jobs they create are high quality and high paying,” Silvert said. “And it’s cheaper to incentivize these companies at the start than to try to relocate a mature company.”

The legislation is important for Owensboro, said Nick Brake, the president of the Greater Owensboro EDC.

“We have a healthy interest in the high tech, biotech and food safety companies we have churning here, and this legislation could turn that interest into investment,” Brake said. “It’s a matter of legislators seeing this as a viable option.”

Brake said he thinks getting a bill passed for angel investor tax credits is a learning process to educate people about how it can help.

Rep. Arnold Simpson’s legislation is prefiled as BR322. If it is filed when the Kentucky General Assembly convenes and becomes law, it would direct the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority to establish the application process for small businesses to participate.Angel investors who qualified could tap into the Kentucky Investment Fund Act tax credits that would be capped at $40 million.Simpson is a Covington Democrat.

The KEDFA would have to maintain a website listing all businesses and investors and the tax credits awarded. The prefiled bill also would require the small businesses to provide an annual report, and it would allow for tax credit recapture under some circumstances.

Joy Campbell, 691-7299,