Business Briefcase: Dec. 27, 2013

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By The Staff

Chamber study shows economic improvement

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce  released a reporton the state’s economic conditions, conducted by the Chamber’s senior economic advisor, Paul Coomes, which looks at data from local fiscal reports and federal databases from 2007 to 2013. The data covers wage and salary growth, job growth, and housing market indicators.

The data, while relevant to Kentucky as a whole, provides specific information about the following regions across the state: Bowling Green, Hopkinsville, Henderson, Lexington, Owensboro, Northern Kentucky, Elizabethtown, Richmond, Paducah, Somerset, Ashland and Louisville.

The study showed that:

  • Wages and salary growth since 2007 (the peak of last national expansion) in major local government jurisdictions varied widely, from a low of 8 percent in the city of Covington to a high of 27 percent for Boone County Fiscal Court. The largest cities – Louisville and Lexington – have been slow to rebound from the recession, with payrolls growing more slowly than the state average.
  • The fastest growing Kentucky counties in terms of total wages and salaries paid since the last recession have been Hardin, Madison, Christian – all home to major military operations that expanded.
  • Job growth has been uneven, with several metropolitan areas now surpassing the number of jobs they supported before the 2008 recession. The Owensboro MSA has had the strongest net job growth, followed by Clarksville-Hopkinsville. But several metros are still well below their 2007 peak job levels, including Huntington-Ashland and
  • Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky. The state of Kentucky, as a whole, is still about 34,000 jobs (2 percent) below its peak in 2007.
  • The housing recovery is actually more like housing stability, with new home construction still below half of its 2005 peak in most markets. The good news is that the last few years have been very stable across Kentucky. Going back to the bubble years of the first half of the last decade is not realistic, nor recommended given the severe financial and economic consequences of the overbuilding and easy credit.

You can download the report at kychamber.com/economicreport.

“This data shows where Kentucky’s economy stands now and compares it to pre-recession levels,” Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson said. “Paul Coomes has done an great job of taking regional economic data to give us an excellent overview of how Kentucky is regaining its footing after the recession.”

Coomes is a emeritus professor of economics at the University of Louisville and a special consultant to the Urban Studies Institute at U of L.


Alltech expands biofuel

Once a buzzword in the biofuel industry, algae are gaining attention for their application to the feed and food industries as a highly sustainable source of protein and DHA omega-3 enrichment, and Alltech is continuing to expand its algal DHA plant in Winchester. USA, one of only two plants in the world commercially producing a high-DHA heterotrophic microalgae. The facility, which is capable of producing approximately 15,000 tons of algae, has already been updated since its opening in early 2011.

“Even with this growth, we will have the need for continued expansion globally because a commercially available source of algal DHA benefits the entire food chain, including human health with DHA as an essential omega-3 fatty acid,” Becky Timmons, global technical director of Alltech Algae, said in a release.

Although most commercial algae production is done using an autotrophic method that requires open, outdoor waterways, the heterotrophic method used by Alltech utilizes indoor fermenters. The closed-system nature of the heterotrophic growth method provides high levels of sterility and process control, which produce a purer and more consistent algae product. Several studies have also indicated that the omega-3 fatty acid content of algae can be two-three times higher when produced through the heterotrophic method.


UK foal has racing potential

A 2-year-old colt called Casiguapo was bred and foaled by the University of Kentucky. Equine studies majors in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment were responsible for caring for the colt, which was sold as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton's October 2012 sale for $4,700 to Jorge Wagner to run in his All American Horses stable.

"He's a good-looking horse," Wagner said in a recent radio interview. "Maybe his pedigree is not that strong or kind of new, but since he was a baby, he was a really, really nice colt. ... When he started training, we noticed he did everything easy."

The Herald-Leader reported that the horse won his second race by 11 lengths at Calder Race Course in Florida in July and then finished second in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in New York in September, fourth in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park in New York in October and second in the Grade 3 Jackpot Stakes at Delta Downs in Louisiana in November.

Those races are key early races on the Kentucky Derby trail, but it is still too soon to say race fans will be watching him on the first Saturday in May.

However, Casiguapo has already made his mark. He and his collegiate breeders have been featured on ESPN, the influential racing-industry blog the Paulick Report and other horse racing Web sites.

"It's probably created some visibility with students who were not all that interested in horses before," said Laurie Lawrence, an equine-nutrition professor. "And it gives us a bigger connection to the industry."

UK's equine program relies on the generosity of the horse business to teach the next generation. The horses are bred using mares and stallion seasons donated by local farms.


Bulletin board

  • The board of Shelby Development Corporation, which typically meets the last Friday of the month, will not meet today.


Bits & bytes

  • Oldham County residents last week were visited by the White Castle Crave Mobile, which led to a steady lunchtime crowd in La Grange, where the truck set up shop in the Kroger parking lot. Many people lined up well before the 11 a.m. start time for the food truck, which had a steady line of at least 50 people waiting to order during lunch hours. Mark Logsdon, General Manager of White Castle System Inc., said the truck showed up to “feed the members of craver nation.”
  • Average retail gasoline prices in Louisville have risen 6.9 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.32 per gallon as of Sunday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 644 gas outlets in Louisville. This compares with the national average that has increased 2.2 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.23. Including the change in gas prices in Louisville during the past week, prices yesterday were 5.2 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 8.9 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 2.4 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 0.9 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.


Briefcase is compiled from press releases and other information submitted to The Sentinel-News. The Kentucky Press News Service contributed to this report. Information and photos may be E-mailed to sharonw@SentinelNews.com. The deadline is noon Wednesday.