Saturday November 16, 2019
News Sections

Louisville Metro Government today closed on its sale of $45 million of tax-exempt bonds to Morgan Stanley & Company, with nationally recognized credit rating services S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service again affirming the city’s positive bond ratings of AA+ and Aa1, respectively.

Both credit rating agencies cited Louisville’s vibrant economy and sound fiscal management as strengths — but also expressed concern regarding Louisville’s growing state pension obligations and relatively low fund balance, commonly known as the Rainy Day Fund.

The bond sale will provide long-term funding to capital projects from the FY19 budget that had been temporarily funded with a line of credit. The competitive sale generated bids from 11 companies and resulted in a True Interest Cost (TIC) of 1.89 percent for the city.

“Louisville continues to receive external validation, from both independent rating agencies and the credit markets, that we are well-run with an expanding economy,” said Mayor Greg Fischer.  “But they also recognize that we will have very limited opportunities to invest in ourselves the way our peer cities are doing because of the growing and sustained state pension increases, unless we structurally address them through either new revenue or continued budget cuts.”

The bond proceeds will fund a variety of projects from the FY19 capital budget, including the completion of the recently opened Northeast Regional Library and the Metro Animal Services shelter. Projects also include ongoing maintenance and repair projects related to street paving, sidewalks, bridges, parks, the Zoo, Metro facilities, and public safety vehicles.

S&P again affirmed its second-highest rating of AA+ with a stable outlook for Metro Louisville.

In its report, S&P factored in Louisville’s “strong economy” and “strong management” but warned that their assessment “could be weakened in the future if we believe its budget shows signs of strain in accommodating future pension contributions.”

Moody’s again affirmed its second highest rating of Aa1 with a stable outlook for Metro Louisville.

Moody’s report cited Louisville Metro’s “sizeable and growing tax base serving as a regionally important economic hub” as a factor in assigning the Aa1 rating, but also expressed the city’s credit challenges related to “lower reserves and liquidity relative to national peers” and a “higher pension burden compared to medians for the rating category.”

The rating agencies recognized the strength of Louisville’s economy, evidenced by $14 billion of capital investment since 2014, 80,000 new jobs and 2,700 new businesses since 2011, rising wages and an unemployment rate below four percent, said Louisville Metro Chief Financial Officer Daniel Frockt.

“Mayor Fischer’s vision of an equitable and vibrant Louisville continue to garner positive results when we go to the capital markets,” Frockt said.  “We are also receiving feedback that we will need a longer-term plan to address the mounting pension obligations over the next several years.”

On Thursday, Frockt will be providing an update on the sale and credit reports to the Metro Council Budget Committee.

Each month, Neighborhood Place partners provide numerous events and resources to benefit the entire family.  Activities in September include four hiring events conducted by FedEx, Sodexo, the U.S. Census Bureau, and Kentucky Health Care Center; two outreaches by Humana CareSource and Passport to discuss health plan benefits options; and a free educational series for parents and caregivers who have youth with a mental health diagnosis. To learn more about these offerings, please refer to the list below.

Sept. 3, Humana CareSource Community Engagement at NorthWest Neighborhood Place, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Located at 4018 W. Market St.  Humana CareSource representatives will be onsite for one-on-one consultations to discuss plan benefits and options.   This is a great opportunity as Humana CareSource seeks to increase health benefits awareness and educate the community about the Humana CareSource Health Plan mission.

Sept. 4, FedEx Ground Employment Opportunities at First Neighborhood Place, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Located at 1503 Rangeland Road (T.J. Middle School in the W.D. Bruce Building – door #24).  Call (502) 313-4700 for more information.  A FedEx human resources recruiter will talk one-on-one with individuals interested in a career as a Package Handler with FedEx Ground.

Sept. 5, Sodexo Hiring Opportunities at First Neighborhood Place, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Located at 1503 Rangeland Road (T.J. Middle School in the W.D. Bruce Building – door #24).  Call 313-4700 for more information.  Sodexo, a food-service agency, will provide on-the-spot interviews for positions with Jewish Hospital, Our Lady of Peace and University of Louisville Hospital. Bring your resume and be prepared for an interview. This is one of Sodexo’s busiest hiring seasons. Stop by if you are looking for employment that can lead to a full-time or part-time position.

Sept. 6, U.S. Census Bureau’s Hiring Event at NorthWest Neighborhood Place, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Located at 4018 W. Market St.  Call 313-4892 for more information.  A U.S. Census Bureau’s representative will be available to share information about the hundreds of entry-level office and warehouse clerks employment opportunities for the Jeffersonville location. National Processing Center (NPC) is the U.S. Census Bureau’s primary center for mail processing, survey processing, data capture, imaging/scanning and warehouse operations. NPC recently increased the starting hourly pay rate for entry level clerks to $14.54 per hour.

Sept. 6, 9, 23, 27 and 30 Kentucky Health Career Center at four locations
Call 502/595-4003 for more information. If you are looking for a job in healthcare, the Kentucky Health Care Center can help with resume writing, career assessments, training funds, job leads and referrals.  A representative from the Kentucky Health Career Center, part of KentuckianaWorks, will be on hand to discuss the multiple opportunities the center has to offer.

  • Sept 6, First Neighborhood Place, 1503 Rangeland Road (T.J. Middle School in the W.D. Bruce Building – door #24), 10 a.m. – 1 p.m
  • Sept, 9, NorthWest Neighborhood Place, 4018 West Market Street, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • September 23, South Jefferson Neighborhood Place (Valley Location), 10200 Dixie Highway, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Sept 27, First Neighborhood Place, 1503 Rangeland Road (T.J. Middle School in the W.D. Bruce Building – door #24), 10a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Sept. 30, South Jefferson Neighborhood Place (Fairdale Location), 1000 Neighborhood Place, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Sept. 10, Passport Health Care Community Engagement at NorthWest Neighborhood Place
Located at 4018 West Market St. Call (502) 585-7301 to leave a message to RSVP.  Passport Members are invited to join with representatives from Passport Health Care for one-on-one consultations to discuss plan benefits and options.   This is a great opportunity as Passport aims to raise awareness and educate the community about the Passport Health Plan mission.  Passport members will receive a $10 retail gift card for attending.

Sept. 19, A Healthy Journey for Two Educational Baby Shower at First Neighborhood Place, 1 – 3 p.m.
Located at 1503 Rangeland Rd.  For more information, contact Mendy Mason at 502/341-5400.  A Healthy Journey for Two is an educational baby shower open to any expectant mothers.  The class will include a range of information and resources, as well as free baby items, gift cards, prizes, and snacks.  Hosted by Seven Counties and KIDSNow.  Fathers are welcome but must be registered.

Sept. 19, The Center for Women and Families Outreach at First Neighborhood Place, Thursday, 1 – 4:30 p.m.
Located at 1503 Rangeland Rd (door #24) side of Thomas Jefferson Middle School.  For more information, contact Nayelyi Sanchez, Domestic Violence Advocate at (502) 581-7270.  Staff with The Center for Women and Families will be on-hand to give an overview of their services which include trauma-informed advocacy and support for qualified families and individuals with supportive services, emergency shelter, sexual assault services, housing, children’s services and more.

Wednesdays, Sept. 25 – Oct. 30, NAMI Basics Educational Class at Bridges of Hope Neighborhood Place, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 
Located at 1411 Algonquin Pkwy.  Call 502/588-2008 to register or with any questions or email martha.theobald@namilouisville.org.  NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Basics is a free six-week educational program for parents and caregivers of youth 6 to 22 years old with a mental health diagnosis. This six-week series is free to attend and will be held six consecutive Wednesdays.

Mayor Greg Fischer recently announced that Chewy.com, the leading online pet retailer, is planning to grow in Louisville less than a year after opening a customer service center here.

“We couldn’t be more ecstatic that Chewy.com is bringing additional jobs and investment to our city by expanding for the second time in less than a year,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Through the UPS Worldport, Louisville offers companies like Chewy.com the ability to quickly get customers what they need, while enjoying Louisville’s robust business environment. We wish Chewy.com continued success.”

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority Thursday preliminarily approved $1 million in tax incentives for Chewy.com. The company will bring 150 jobs and invest $4.5 million to expand into office space at 11403 Bluegrass Parkway.

This new investment by Chewy is in addition to the $7.2 million already invested and 300 jobs at its more than 88,000-square-foot Pharmacy Customer Service Center, 3621 Fern Valley Road.

Louisville Forward staff continues to work with Chewy.com to connect them with business services, guiding them through the city’s permitting process, and identifying potential community partnerships.

“Chewy’s expansion in Louisville responds to the growing demand we’ve seen from our loyal customers. It allows us to continue delivering the high-touch, reliable service our customers know and love,” said Mita Malhotra, Vice President of Chewy Healthcare. “We continue to enhance our services to support our veterinarian partners and share a commitment to improving pet health and happiness.”

Chewy.com is an e-commerce business that caters to pet owners and pet lovers. It is a one-stop shop, offering more than 1,600 brands of everything from toys and treats to pet medications and supplies. The company was purchased in 2017 by PetSmart in the largest-ever e-commerce transaction. Chewy.com employs roughly 11,000 people in the United States.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer today joined SummerWorks staff, participants, employers, and supporters at the Heine Bros. headquarters in west Louisville to celebrate the 2019 SummerWorks season, which saw nearly 7,000 youth, a new record, employed throughout the city.

“SummerWorks is a critical step in building and supporting our pipeline of talented workers,” Mayor Fischer said. “The skills learned and relationships developed during a summer job carry over into the new school year and help set young people on a path to career success.”

This season of SummerWorks saw an increase in first-time employers, including Heine Brothers’ Coffee, Carbide Industries, GlowTouch Technologies, Crowne Plaza, Masonic Homes, Rev-a-Shelf, and the U.S. Census Bureau. Many established SummerWorks employers also increased their participation in 2019, including GE Appliances, which hired 29 youth this season.

GE Appliances SummerWorks student Zaina Katembo gained confidence in the business place during her experience and hopes to have a future with the global company.
“When I started work, I was very nervous,” said Katembo, 19, senior at Moore High School who moved to the U.S. from Tanzania in 2016, “but my co-workers and supervisors made me feel very welcomed and at home. I really appreciated this opportunity and would like to work for GE Appliances after I graduate.”

SummerWorks also expanded its partnership with the Academies of Louisville at JCPS, exceeding its goal of placing at least 200 Academies students in summer jobs that aligned with their career pathway.

During the celebration, the Mayor cited a newly released study, which was commissioned by KentuckianaWorks and conducted by the Kentucky Center for Statistics, that measured the long-term impact of SummerWorks on youth. The study found a variety of positive outcomes associated with SummerWorks, including higher graduation and employment rates.
“The data we’re seeing today reinforces our belief that a summer job experience can have a lasting positive impact on a young person’s life,” the Mayor said. “We must continue investing in SummerWorks in order to make sure all young people in our community, regardless of the barriers they may be facing, have a chance to benefit from this kind of experience.”

To learn more about SummerWorks and how to get involved, either as a participant, employer, or supporter, visit www.summerworks.org.

Meeting planners looking to ‘connect’ with peers and suppliers will be assembling in Louisville August 26-28 for Connect Marketplace, a leading tradeshow in the meetings, events, travel and tourism industry. Approximately 4,000 meeting professionals will be attending Connect Marketplace around the one-year anniversary of the renovated and re-opened Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC).

The opening address will be given by retired American competitive swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history with 28 medals. To conclude the conference, the closing keynote will be delivered by Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman, a Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, focusing on raising awareness of ending violence against women and girls.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to once again showcase the city of Louisville to such an important audience,” said Karen Williams, President and CEO of Louisville Tourism. “Hosting Connect Marketplace 2019 will support our mission to continue attracting world-class industry tradeshows in Louisville. This will be the second time Connect Marketplace has been to Louisville, and we plan to take every opportunity to show the best our city has to offer, including the explosion of tourism infrastructure over the last decade.”

Connect Marketplace organizers committed to hosting this show in Louisville in the fall of 2017 after confirming it would be ready before 2019. They last met in Louisville in 2010. The estimated economic impact to Louisville from the three-day conference is $4.4 million, however the city stands to benefit additionally from the prospective future convention bookings that occur as a result of showcasing Louisville’s convention package to these key site selection decision makers.

“We are so pleased to be the host city for the 2019 Connect Marketplace,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “This is a time of great transformation for our city, and we’re proud to host the meeting industry’s top event professionals and give these decision-makers a front-row seat to the nearly $1 billion in tourism-based infrastructure improvements underway here.”

Louisville Tourism planned several initiatives to help the city stand out. Some of the key elements of the welcome program include sponsoring a pink-out opening party at Churchill Downs for breast cancer awareness, chalk art downtown and arranging free artist entertainment outside the convention center in the form of buskers. The buskers are part of the Art in Lou pilot program in partnership with the Fund for the Arts to provide artists with paid opportunities to perform for the community in public spaces, providing a welcoming, lively atmosphere for visitors and residents.

Commercial anglers on Kentucky and Barkley lakes are deploying indicator flags to mark the locations of their nets.

“We want to make anglers and recreational boaters aware of ongoing commercial angling and net locations,” said Jessica Morris, fisheries biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

“These bright yellow flags are visible for a mile. While nets are generally set 3-feet underneath the surface, boaters still should not go between flags or use them for skiing buoys because of the risk of entanglement.”

The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation purchased about 100 flags and the materials to attach them to the nets.

This spring, the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to allow commercial netting during summer weekends as part of the ongoing effort to control numbers of invasive Asian carp in Kentucky and Barkley lakes. Commercial anglers previously were restricted to netting during the weekdays in summer.

Asian carp outcompete native fish for food. Silver carp, one of the Asian carp species, can be hazardous to boaters as they jump out of the water as a boat approaches.

The net indicator flags are part of a collaborative effort between the department and Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation to avoid user conflicts on the lakes. Nets may be deployed day or night, and not all will be marked.

So far this year, commercial anglers have netted 2.8 million pounds of Asian carp from Kentucky waterways, more than double the 1.1 million pounds taken by the same time in 2018. Morris said approximately 80 percent of the harvest comes from Lake Barkley.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is working with commercial anglers and processors to develop markets for Asian carp.

As part of the effort to control Asian carp, construction is underway on a deterrent system designed to thwart the fish from entering a boating lock chamber into Lake Barkley. The device, known as a bio-acoustic fish fence, could be operational by fall.

The Kentucky Communication Network Authority (KCNA), the agency responsible for overseeing the Commonwealth’s KentuckyWired fiber optic cable network project, finalized a bond sale of $102,090,000 last week.

The City of Williamsburg issued the bonds for the KentuckyWired Infrastructure Company.  The Series 2019 municipal bonds were purchased by Morgan Stanley.

The majority of the proceeds—$93 million—will be used to fund the settlement agreement between KCNA and its primary contractor, NG-KIH Design Build LLC.  The remainder will be held to fund project needs.

According to KCNA Interim Executive Director Deck Decker, KCNA was able to save millions of dollars through the structure of this deal and favorable market conditions. “KCNA was able to access a market with historically low rates to reap maximum benefit from this deal,” he said.

Construction of the KentuckyWired project is well over halfway complete, with more than 1,700 miles of the planned 3,000 miles of fiber cable placed so far. Construction is complete in the first section from Lexington to Louisville and Cincinnati, known as Ring 1A. Construction of Ring 1B, in Eastern Kentucky, is projected to be finished in early September.

KentuckyWired is a middle mile network, building high-speed fiber optic cable in all 120 counties, connecting government offices, universities, community colleges, state police posts, and state parks.

Along its 3,000-mile path, private companies can connect to the network and lease its fiber. This will enable private internet companies to expand their service farther into more rural areas. KentuckyWired will significantly enhance opportunities for education, healthcare, economic investment and job growth for Kentuckians.

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