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Shepherd expands presence in Shelby

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By Steve Doyle

Even as new employment numbers show some improvement around the state, Shelby County has seen a shift in some businesses that has caused some mostly positive news. Shepherd Communications, which is based in Lexington, has moved into a new facility in the Hi Point Industrial Park and is looking to expand. Shelby County Industrial & Development Foundation Executive Director Libby Adams said the company is looking to hire about 30 employees. “They have rented our building at Hi Point,” Adams said. “They have a small call center and handle all the trouble-shooting for Insight. You see their trucks all over town.” Shepherd, owned by Eric Shepherd, who splits his time between the facilities in Shelbyville and Lexington, had been in Pearce Industrial Park. The good news with Shepherd offset some not-so-good news elsewhere in Shelby’s industrial base. Irotas, which had been in stages of closing for the past several months, finally did, and Adams said the company, owned by Bill Kiser, had been going through some foreclosure. The company, which made custom steel and polymer cylinders for printing operations, was located on Pearce Industrial Drive in Shelbyville. Bluegrass Fabrication & Machine, an auto repair company in Bagdad, also has closed, Adams said the company  employed only two or three. And Borders Unlimited remains open despite recently defaulting on bank notes totaling more than $2.6 million. “I’m not sure where they stand, but I think they’re still in business,” Adams said. “Their difficulties are beyond the scope of business.” Adams said that overall what she sees is an employment picture that is “steady or a little improved.” And that seems to continue to be the case around the state. Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate fell to 10 percent in June 2010, the lowest rate in 16 months, according to the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. The cabinet said the revised rate in May 2010 was 10.4 percent.June’s rating is .8 percentage points below that of June 2009 and is the lowest since Feb. 2009, when the rate was 9.6 percent. This continues the trend of declining rates for the past several months. Shelby County’s unemployment in May was the lowest it had been in more than a year, and more than half the counties in the state had shown improvement. The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate decreased from 9.7 percent in May 2010 to 9.5 percent in June 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. But state officials said the improved numbers largely are because fewer people are continuing to try to work. “The decrease in Kentucky’s unemployment rate in June 2010 is driven by a decline in the civilian labor force. Individuals who have faced long-term unemployment are becoming discouraged and dropping out of the labor force,” Justine Detzel, the cabinet’s chief labor market analyst said in a statement. Unemployment statistics are based on estimates and are compiled to measure trends rather than actually to count people working.Seven of the 11 major nonfarm employment sectors showed an increase in June 2010 and shows the fourth consecutive month of job gains, state officials said. Nonfarm employment is at its highest since January 2009.  Since June 2009, Kentucky’s nonfarm employment has expanded by 26,500 professionals.  This marks the second month in a row of year-over-year increases in nonfarm employment. Prior to this, Kentucky suffered 26 consecutive months of year-over-year employment losses,” Detzel said. According to the seasonally adjusted employment data, the manufacturing sector jobs surged by 2,700 in June 2010. Since June 2009, employment in the manufacturing sector has grown by 4,800 positions.