Sunday October 20, 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.

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.

Mayor Greg Fischer is taking part in a 10-day trip to India, organized by the international Strong Cities Network (SCN), that will include a visit with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

As part of the trip, funded by the U.S. Embassy in India, Mayor Fischer and Tom Tait, Mayor of Anaheim, Calif., will meet with government, business, media and thought leaders to discuss approaches to making cities safer and communities stronger amid the rise in violent extremist groups around the globe.

Mayor Fischer also will be speaking to members of India’s business community at the Indian Merchant Chamber of Commerce, and industry, interfaith and community leaders at various stops throughout the trip. He’ll also meet with state and city officials, including the mayor of Mumbai Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, and discuss Louisville’s story in interviews with India’s media.

“Visits like this are great opportunities to promote our city,” Mayor Fischer said. “Our focus on compassion is something that resonates worldwide and is so relevant in today’s world. And I always welcome to the chance to tell our city’s story to potential investors and business interests that may be looking to expand in the U.S.”

India’s population is 1.3 billion, and its GDP is about $2.3 trillion.

SCN Manager Rebecca Skellett said the two mayors were chosen for the trip because of their focus on compassion, which has been championed by the Dalai Lama. Anaheim’s City of Kindness initiative parallels Louisville Compassionate City efforts.

“Mayor Fischer and Mayor Tait are both driving forward innovative practices to build social cohesion with city-wide Charters for Compassion and Kindness, which offer tremendous value to residents and businesses alike,” Skellett said. “This is why we’re delighted to be taking these two U.S. Mayors to Delhi, Mumbai and Dharamsala — to share their journeys, inspire Indian cities and policy makers, and learn more about how India’s diverse range of communities live together side by side.”

Mayor Tait said, “As a city, we must always respond to daily needs for public safety and community services. But kindness is our long game. It has the potential for positive change over generations. While cities across the world may face different issues, the impact of kindness is the same. We are honored that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has embraced what we are doing in Anaheim. His words to us sum it up perfectly: ‘Creating cultures of kindness and compassion throughout the world is the key to achieving world peace.’”

Launched by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue at the United Nations in September 2015, SCN “is the first ever global network of mayors, municipal-level policy makers and practitioners united in building social cohesion and community resilience to counter violent extremism in all its forms,” according to its website.

SCN membership is diverse, including large megacities like London and Mumbai, to smaller municipalities such as Kristiansand and Tripoli.  What unites SCN members is their desire to share their experiences, learn from others and build community resilience against the divisive ideologies of hate, division and violence in all its forms.

“The network catalyzes, inspires and multiplies community-centric approaches and action to counter violent extremism through peer learning and expert training including city exchanges, annual summits, regional workshops and providing consultancy to cities,” the website said.

Mayor Fischer, who leaves for India Tuesday afternoon, said he’s pleased to share Louisville’s successes in compassion, community building and economic growth, and to learn best practices from others while visiting India.

The 55th Annual National Recreation Vehicle Trade Show returns to Louisville Nov. 27-30 at the Kentucky Exposition Center. This industry-only event draws approximately 8,000 industry professionals and is expected to generate $6.9 million in economic impact.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) hosts the event, which is the largest concentration of RV manufacturers, suppliers, dealers and campground managers in the world. More than 300 booths will pack 1.2 million square feet of exhibit space with motorhomes, travel trailers, campers, RV parts and accessories.

The four-day show provides attendees the opportunity to: 

  • Discover new products and innovations 
  • Attend training sessions 
  • Engage with key stakeholders and leaders 
  • Network with colleagues

This year features new awards:

  • the RV Industry Awards
  • the RV Industry 40 under 40.

Other new additions include a dealer sales boot camp, top tech challenge, and outdoor lifestyle pavilion.

Today, a record 9 million recreation vehicles travel U.S. roads representing a substantial increase in ownership over the past decade. The RV industry has seen seven consecutive years of growth.

RVIA is the national trade association for RV manufacturers and their component parts suppliers that together build more than 98 percent of all recreational vehicles produced in the United States.

The National RV Trade Show is closed to the public. For more information, visit www.rviashow.org.

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