Wednesday November 13, 2019
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Southwest Airlines recently announced new seasonal weekly nonstop service between Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) beginning Saturday, December 21, 2019. The airline will operate the flight using 143-seat Boeing 737 aircraft.

“We’re pleased that Southwest continues to expand service here in Louisville with Fort Lauderdale marking the third new nonstop destination they have added in the past 17 months,” said Dan Mann Executive Director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority. “Southwest’s on-going investment of new routes at SDF speaks highly of the strength of our market and our strong partnership with them.”

With this announcement, Southwest Airlines will offer nonstop flights to ten destinations from Louisville including Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Dallas-Love Field, Denver, Houston-Hobby, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix and Tampa. Tickets are now available at www.southwest.com.

“This is great news for Louisvillians looking to head south for work or fun, and a further sign of the strength of the Louisville market,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “We’re pleased that Southwest clearly gets that, as it continues to expand its services here.”

The Fort Lauderdale flight came as part of the airlines winter schedule release. In addition to this new route, Southwest is also increasing their number of daily flights to Chicago-Midway as well as the number of weekend flights to Baltimore, Orlando, Phoenix and Tampa. With these service increases, Southwest’s Louisville capacity will be up 13% in January and February 2020.

This announcement follows a record-setting first six-months of the year for Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport with 2,049,504 total passengers – a 12.5% increase in passenger traffic. Since September 2018, nine of the 10 months have also set passenger records, with June celebrated as the airport’s busiest month yet with 206,000 enplanements.

This level of growth – fueled by expanded markets and new announcements including Fort Lauderdale – has placed Louisville’s airport on track to celebrate its best year ever.

Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport is served by six airlines offering flights to more than 30 nonstop destinations including 19 of the region’s top 20 domestic markets. With just one stop, travelers from across the region can reach more than 460 destination sin the U.S. and worldwide.

For additional information about the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, visit www.FlyLouisville.com.

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.

The surest way to create more and better jobs in Greater Louisville is for those of us who live and work here to buy locally whenever possible. To be clear, Louisville (like every region) is at its best when its local businesses are thriving and providing good jobs. The impact of local people patronizing locally-owned businesses simply can’t be overstated.

Studies indicate that independent and locally owned retailers and restaurants return about 55 percent of all their revenue to the local economy. Research by business data company Civic Economics suggests the large big-box chain stores recirculate only about 13 percent of their revenue within the local markets that host its stores. While local independent businesses are usually easy to identify, it is important to remember that many of the smaller nationally-branded chains are actually operated by locally-based franchisees and appreciate your support.

Of course, most of our locally owned businesses are also small businesses. There are about 57,000 businesses in the Louisville MSA with the vast majority locally-owned small businesses and proprietorships. These local small business owners and their employees are our neighbors, community volunteers and youth league coaches.

Though a shopper may occasionally save money by purchasing from big national chains, there are tradeoffs to consider. Consider the added cost placed on the environment when we purchase items that are produced faraway, then transported to this area. Food shipped cross-country carries a much greater environmental impact than food grown on a nearby farm. And who could ever argue against the taste of locally grown farm products when compared to canned goods or produce shipped in from the coasts?   Continue reading

Celebrating the organization’s 5th anniversary, U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers and Governor Matt Bevin welcomed more than 1,100 attendees to the annual summit at the East Kentucky Exposition Center in Pikeville, applauding federal, state and local leaders for overcoming early challenges to drive successful efforts inspired by Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR).

“Five years ago, the future of Kentucky’s Appalachian region seemed daunting. However, with approximately 12,000 coal miners left without jobs in the wake of the war on coal, more than 1,200 people from across Eastern Kentucky rallied together under the united mission of SOAR to reimagine our future, improve quality of life and diversify our struggling economy,” said Rogers. “Progress may seem slow at times, but we have made great strides against the heavy burden of the war on coal and we won’t stop pulling together federal, state and local resources to overcome our challenges and recruit new innovative opportunties to our region. The horizon is brighter than ever before with hundreds of new jobs opening soon, a new federal prison approved for construction and broadband access on the way to every county. Our best days are ahead!”

Congressman Rogers and Governor Bevin inspired local leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs to continue working together toward a better future for Eastern Kentucky.

“This year’s SOAR summit showcases the unlimited potential that exists in Eastern Kentucky,” said Gov. Bevin. “Kentucky’s Appalachian region is home to entrepreneurs, business leaders, innovators, and change-makers that are committed to making a difference in their local communities, and they are putting their ideas into action. We are committed to coming alongside the local communities to identify resources and new opportunities to encourage further economic growth and development. The determination and drive in this region of our Commonwealth ensures that the future of Appalachia will be bright.”

Keynote speakers included USDA Rural Development Assistant to the Secretary Anne Hazlett; Tim Thomas, Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC); Chris Thomlinson, owner of SilverLiner in Pikeville; Bob Schena, CEO of Rajant Corporation in Morehead; and Major General (Retired) Vinny Boles, who led logistics for the U.S. Army following the tragic events on September 11, 2001.

Hazlett and Thomas joined Rogers and Bevin to make several funding announcements for the region, including:

  • A $100,000 grant from the ARC for SOAR operations;
  • A $1.2 million grant from Kentucky ARC for development of a 30-acre industrial site in Perry County;
  • $625,390 in grant funding from USDA Rural Development for several projects in the SOAR region, including a new national pilot program for transitional housing related to the opioid epidemic in Rockcastle County;
  • $30,000 private investment from Toyota Tsusho to launch an Advanced Manufacturing Makerspace at the Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College’s Middlesboro Campus; and
  • $10.5 million for two new Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Pilot Projects in Letcher County and Pike County.

For more information about the ongoing work related to SOAR, visit soar-ky.org.

About the SOAR initiative
The SOAR initiative was launched in 2013, after a stunning downturn in the coal market exacerbated historic challenges in Eastern Kentucky related to unemployment and poverty. SOAR is intended to help the region develop and put into action new locally oriented strategies to attack those persistent challenges.

Gov. Matt Bevin today announced Walmart will invest $41 million and create 400 full-time jobs at a new facility in Bullitt County dedicated to fulfilling online orders from Walmart.com and Walmart subsidiary Jet.com.

“We are excited to welcome Walmart and Jet.com’s distribution facility to Bullitt County and the commonwealth,” Gov. Bevin said. “This is a major new venture for the company that will bring significant investment and hundreds of jobs to the region. It is further confirmation that Kentucky is the established leader for logistics and distribution in the United States.”

Walmart will lease a 720,000-square-foot building in the Velocity 65 trade center on Velocity Way off of I-65. In addition to full-time permanent workers, the facility will eventually employ several hundred temporary workers, including seasonal employees. Company leaders plan to open the center later this fall.

“This new facility will soon be serving even more Walmart.com and Jet.com customers with fast shipping in two-days or less, and we’re thrilled we found a home for it in Bullitt County,” said Nate Faust, senior vice president of supply chain, Walmart eCommerce U.S. “We look forward to opening for business and to a long relationship with the people of Kentucky and Shepherdsville.”   Continue reading

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

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