Sunday July 22, 2018
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Amid recent talks about tariffs and trade wars, eight of the world’s biggest players in the whiskey industry are meeting for what has been dubbed the “W8 Summit” to be hosted right here in Louisville.

The world’s eight leading whiskey associations will gather in Kentucky, the Birthplace of Bourbon, next week in a historic summit to discuss trade issues that threaten the growth of this iconic, international industry.

The “W8 – Spirit of Collaboration Summit” is being hosted and coordinated by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, a non-profit trade group founded in 1880 as the Commonwealth’s voice for Bourbon and distilled spirits issues.

KDA President Eric Gregory said this first-ever gathering of the world’s whiskey associations will serve as an open exchange of ideas, strategy and a shared commitment to preserving free and fair trade. “Now more than ever, our groups need to be communicating directly and, hopefully, speaking with a unified voice.”

“The global whiskey industry has been enjoying an unprecedented level of success to the benefit of our legendary producers, consumers, countries and local communities,” he said. “It’s critical that we maintain this momentum and ensure that world leaders understand the deep economic impact of whiskey and how it will be affected if this unfortunate trade war escalates or continues to extend.  The potential for long-term damage is real.”

Participating trade associations from around the glob include:

  • Distilled Spirits Council
  • Irish Whiskey & Spirits Associations
  • Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Producers Makers Association
  • Kentucky Distillers’ Association
  • Scotch Whisky Association
  • Spirits Canada
  • spiritsEUROPE
  • The President’s Forum

The group will meet July 25 and 26 in Louisville, ending with a press conference and ceremonial planting of a white oak tree outside the Frazier History Museum on Whiskey Row, the site of the upcoming Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center.

Kentucky Bourbon is one of the Commonwealth’s most historic and treasured industries, a booming $8.5 billion economic engine that generates as many as 17,500 jobs with an annual payroll topping $800 million and pours $825 million into tax coffers each year.

In addition, the industry is in the middle of a $1.2 billion building boom, from innovative new tourism centers to expanded production facilities, all to meet the growing global thirst for Kentucky Bourbon.

There are now 39 companies operating 52 distilleries in the Commonwealth making 6.8 million barrels of aging Bourbon – all modern records. Distillers also paid a record $19.2 million last year in barrel taxes that fund critical local programs such as education, public safety and health.

Visit www.kybourbon.com and www.kybourbontrail.com to learn more.

Restaurant Founder Claims Blackmail, Extortion, Lack of Context, and Improper Corporate Behavior

Papa John’s founder, John Schnatter, claims in a letter to the pizza chain’s board of directors that his decision to step down from the board amid controversy over using offensive language on a conference call was “a mistake.”

The board of directors Sunday canceled Schnatter’s “founder” position and booted him from the company’s Louisville corporate headquarters.  Last week, the restaurateur separated from the University of Louisville board of trustees last week. University President Neeli Bendapudi also announced last Friday that the school will drop the Papa John’s name from its football stadium, calling it simply “Cardinal Stadium” while the company acted to remove Schnatter’s likeness from their logo and advertising materials.

Schnatter said that the board asked him “to step down as chairman without apparently doing any investigation.” Schnatter agreed to the board’s request, although now says in his letter, “today I believe it was a mistake to do so.

In his letter dated Saturday, Schnatter attempted to provide context for the use of his language during what the company’s former marketing agency called “diversity media training.”  The embattled company founder claims that he was, in fact, attempting to distance himself from the use of such racially charged language in response to questions from the agency about whether or not he was racist. In the letter, he states that he “said something on the order of, Colonel Sanders used the word “N,” (I actually used the word,) that I would never use that word and Papa John’s doesn’t use that word.

Schnatter continued on in the letter, claiming that the ad agency attempted to extort the company for millions more than what they were owed due to the offense taken by some of their employees over the founder’s comments. The Laundry Service, Schnatter claims, threatened to conduct a “smear campaign” unless they were paid $2.5 million – approximately twice what they were supposed to be paid.

The full text of Schnatter’s letter may be seen below:

 

Dear Fellow Board Member

 

I am writing because I believe it is important that you hear directly from me the facts and circumstances surrounding the events that were initially reported and mischaracterized in the July 11 Forbes story, “Papa John’s Founder used the ‘N’ word on Conference Call” and ultimately was carried in media across the country.

 

On May 14, Steve Richie, Mike Nettles, I and others in the company met with executives and staff of The Laundry Service, who shared their creative and strategy, at their offices in New York. As you know, we had been testing with significant success, my returning to the company’s advertising. On May 22, at their strong suggestion, I participated in what The Laundry Service called “diversity media training.” The idea was to prepare me for questions I might get as a result of my reappearance at NHRA on Saturday, May 26 in Chicago. (The Laundry Service, for those of you who don’t know, is an advertising and marketing agency which is part of the Wasserman Media Group.) During and after that meeting, The Laundry Service leadership strongly urged that our company retain Kayne West as my co-spokesman in the television spots and other promotions. I told them that would not work because he uses the “N” word in his lyrics.

 

During this diversity media training, which covered a wide number of topics, I was asked whether I was racist. I, of course said no — which is a truthful statement as those of you who know me well will attest and of course, if you felt otherwise you would not be sitting on the Papa John Board. I was asked if I was not racist, then why did I say what I did about the NFL situation? I said if you look at what I said, it was in no way racist. (The fact is, we completely mishandled the NFL situation from a public relations standpoint – both the Board of Directors and company leadership.) I then said something on the order of, Colonel Sanders used the word “N,” (I actually used the word,) that I would never use that word and Papa John’s doesn’t use that word. Earlier, I gave an example of a scarring experience I read about in Texas when I was growing up which further cemented my existing abhorrence of racism. The thought of this situation to this day sickens me. Let me be very clear: I never used the “N” word in that meeting as a racial epithet, nor would I ever.

I have talked to a Papa John’s employee who was in that room with me who confirmed my recollection of these events.

 

The next day, May 23, the company made the decision — not me — to fire the Laundry Service, with their last day being July 2. We owed them approximately $1.3 million. Of course, we said we would pay them what was owed, but they said they wanted $6 million because they claimed some of their people had been offended by what I had said. Moreover, one of their attorneys said they would conduct a smear campaign against the company and me unless we paid them what he was asking for. Unfortunately, the company gave in to this extortion attempt and offered them $2.5 million or roughly $1.2 million more than they were owed.

 

On July 10, we got a call from the Forbes reporter who wrote the above-referenced story. The reporter gave me 15 minutes to give him our comments and said he then was publishing the story. It published the next day. Please be assured, I am going to get the facts of this situation out, but we want to make sure we do it correctly.

 

The Board asked me to step down as chairman without apparently doing any investigation. I agreed, though today I believe it was a mistake to do so. I have checked with corporate governance experts who tell me that this was not a proper action by the Board. At the last meeting, a few of you raised the issue of whether I should step down as a director. Once again, those individuals were acting on rumor and innuendo, without any investigation — let alone a third-party investigation of the facts. And once again, the corporate governance experts with whom I consulted said this is not the proper action of either a director or the board.

 

I am confident that an examination of the facts will bear out what I have written in this letter and show that once again our company has demonstrated that it does not know how to handle a crisis based on misinformation. I will not allow either my good name or the good name of the company I founded and love to be unfairly tainted.

 

John

Registration deadline is Oct. 22

A Nov. 2 economic development forum focused on west Louisville will examine strategies and available resources to help rebuild and sustain communities.

The University of Louisville’s College of Arts and Sciences is offering the public event, “The Future of Our Community: West Louisville Economic and Community Development Forum,” at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, 1701 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. The program runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Advance registration is required by Oct. 22 for the forum, which includes lunch. Participants should visit http://uofl.me/wledf-2017 and pay online or by check; fees are $60 for corporate representatives, $50 for individuals and $40 for students.

Forum breakout sessions will focus on creative financing for individual and large construction projects, economic opportunities for minority-owned firms, successful neighborhood planning and access to lending opportunities. Panelists will include residents, developers, financiers, entrepreneurs and government and community group representatives.

WAVE 3 News anchor Dawne Gee will serve as mistress of ceremonies for the event.

The program includes a 12:45-2:15 p.m. luncheon panel with former National Basketball Association players Derek Anderson and Darrell Griffith discussing “Giving Back: The Power of Investing in the Community” and a tribute to philanthropist and civic leader Charlie Johnson.

The A&S international, diversity and engagement programs office organized the forum. Other partners are Brown-Forman Corp., OneWest, PNC Bank, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis-Louisville Branch, Louisville Metro Council, Louisville Housing Authority, Louisville Forward, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth and UofL’s urban and public affairs department.

For a full schedule of sessions and speakers, see the forum’s website. For more information, contact Clest Lanier at 502-852-3042 or cvlani01@louisville.edu.

EnterpriseCorp, the entrepreneurial support arm of GLI, welcomed nearly 300 people to the Kentucky Derby Museum for the annual Evening of Entrepreneurship, presented by Wyatt Tarrant & Combs, Wednesday evening. The event featured a keynote presentation by Frederique Dame, a well-known angel investor and former product engineer for Uber, and gave the region’s startup community a chance to celebrate their accomplishments and look ahead to the work that needs to be done to accelerate the region’s startup community.

“We’ve taken huge steps forward in just a year’s time and as other communities have taught us, once the ball is rolling it’s hard to stop it. We have every reason to be optimistic about the state of entrepreneurship in our region. Yes, there are challenges that we need to take head on to keep up the pace of this progress, but there is so much to be proud of and so many opportunities to connect, engage and grow our region’s startups,” Lisa Bajorinas, Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Talent for GLI, told the crowd during her State of Entrepreneurship address.

The theme of this year’s program was customer development, specifically the clients that have made the biggest impact on local startups and entrepreneurs. Dame’s speech centered on her time at Uber and how the company scaled from early stage to global success by listening to their drivers and customers pain points and working from that point.

“Building a product with the customer is not only essential. It’s also really fun,” Dame said. “If you’re not building for the customer, then what is your business actually doing?”

Dame also took the chance to comment on the landscape of tech startups and how established companies and entrepreneurs can work together.

“Being beta testers, as a large customer, would be incredible help to small startups and the large companies can benefit from the collaboration with startups to increase their agility within their markets,” Dame said.

In addition to Dame’s address, Mary Tapolsky took home 2017’s EnterpriseCorp Award, which recognizes an individual that has made a significant contribution to Louisville’s entrepreneurial community.

Tapolsky is the Director for Technology Commercialization and Program Administration for UofL’s Nucleus. She focuses on developing and administering programs and services to help facilitate the creation and success of startup and early stage companies. These programs include LaunchIt, an entrepreneur training program that has graduated over 380 entrepreneurs, RevIt – Accelerating Customer Growth, VetStart, Open Office Hours, e + i Entrepreneurs Meet Innovators, Nucleus MeetUps, and Startup Seminar Series – Educating Entrepreneurs. In addition, she administers the Nucleus Startup Grants program and has been instrumental in recruiting more than twenty technology-based companies to One Innovation Center.

National Ag Day is today, and it is a good time to reflect on some of the many ways agriculture affects us every day.

Agriculture is a major economic driver in Kentucky and the United States. Nationally, it is one of few sectors that can boast a trade surplus. In Kentucky, agricultural exports totaled an estimated $1.46 billion in 2015. A University of Kentucky report found that agriculture and related industries in Kentucky had an estimated economic impact of $45.6 billion and accounted for more than 258,000 jobs in 2013.

Agriculture, of course, feeds us all. We rely on farmers and food manufacturers to produce the abundant and affordable foods and beverages that we all depend on – and often take for granted. Thanks to the productivity and efficiency of U.S. agriculture, Americans spend an average of only 9.7 percent of their income on food – the lowest in the world.

Of course, that is not true of all Americans. The lowest 20 percent of the population based on earnings pay as much as 35 percent of their income to feed themselves and their families. Some have to make hard choices to make ends meet. This situation is intolerable, and that is why we launched the Kentucky Hunger Initiative and assembled the Hunger Task Force last year. You can help by checking the box on Line 33 of Form 740 to donate part of your state tax refund to the Kentucky Farms to Food Banks Trust Fund. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of Kentuckians in need.

If you want to learn more about Kentucky agriculture, follow the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s #KyAg365 campaign on Facebook and Twitter. We launched #KyAg365 at the beginning of the year to raise awareness of how agriculture affects every single person 365 days a year! This campaign educates the public on the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s initiatives as well as the importance of agriculture in the lives of all Kentuckians.

We thank everyone who has liked, shared, and retweeted our posts! Many organizations, businesses, and individuals have used the hashtag to mark their own Kentucky ag-related posts. We hope you will watch for more #KyAg365 posts and discover amazing facts about Kentucky agriculture.

On National Ag Day, I hope you will take a moment to consider how your food is produced and where it comes from. And as always, if you like to eat, thank a farmer!

Communities across the state recognized by Site Selection magazine

Announced on the same day as CBRE hailed Louisville’s office market as one of the most affordable in the nation, Kentucky placed second nationally in economic development projects per capita last year and first in the South Central region according to Site Selection magazine, Gov. Matt Bevin announced today.

The rankings – part of Site Selection’s annual Governor’s Cup awards – make 2016 the third consecutive year Kentucky has placed first or second in the per-capita competition. Numerous Kentucky metropolitan and micropolitan regions also placed on top-10 lists for their economic development achievements. As well, Kentucky ranked seventh nationally in total projects, beating out states of far greater size.

“Kentucky continues to distinguish itself as a top location for new business growth and expansion,” Gov. Bevin said. “The strong performance outlined in this report stands as further proof of this fact, ranking us among the top 10 states by total economic projects announced. This is a great achievement for a state much smaller than many of our competitors, and is a testament to the efforts of thousands of people. It is exciting to see what happens when city, county, regional, state and federal levels collaborate to attract growth in communities across the commonwealth. The incredible beauty, quality of life, work ethic and abundant opportunities in Kentucky are becoming increasingly well known, and the future is bright indeed.”

In addition to the state’s high ranking, Site Selection named five Kentucky communities among its Top 10 Metro Areas Ranking. These include the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati region, which ranked fifth among areas with populations exceeding 1 million; Lexington, which ranked fourth for communities with populations between 200,000 and 1 million; and Bowling Green, Owensboro and Elizabethtown, which placed second, seventh and ninth, respectively, among metropolitan areas with fewer than 200,000 people.   Continue reading

According to recent national rankings by CBRE Research, both the Louisville Downtown and Suburban Office markets ranked in the Top 10 markets with the lowest asking rental rates in the nation.

Among the 50 Downtown markets tracked by CBRE Research, the Louisville Downtown Office market ranked third overall in terms of most affordable in the nation, while the Louisville Suburban Office market ranked 6th overall among the 58 suburban markets tracked by CBRE Research.

“This recent ranking by CBRE Research further solidifies Louisville’s competitive cost of doing business,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “The city is experiencing more than $9 billion in investment right now, paired with our low unemployment rate and increase in average weekly wages, so now is the time to be doing business in Louisville.”

CBRE Research shows Louisville Downtown office markets average a cost of $16.71 per square foot, and the Suburban markets average a cost of $17.96 per square foot.

According to CBRE Research, Louisville markets offer more affordable office space than similar-sized peer-cities in the region. For example, Nashville has a $25.35 per square foot Downtown asking rate; Columbus has a $20.33 per square foot Downtown asking rate, and Cincinnati has an $18.28 per square foot Suburban asking rate. The Louisville Downtown Office market is the second-most affordable in the region after St. Louis, while the Louisville Suburban Office market was third most affordable after Cleveland and Detroit.

To view the latest CBRE Louisville Office MarketView report, visit http://cbreemail.com/rv/ff00a55667197643c90742244745810479290793

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