Welcome to our Insider Louisville news roundup of happenings around Kentucky.

Louisville-based XLerateHealth starts Flint accelerator

Screenshot of Flint
Screenshot

On Monday, XLerateHealth, the health care technology accelerator, announced that it was opening a location in Flint, Mich.

XLH Flint’s first startup cohort will kickoff a bootcamp on July 9 at the new office in the Ferris Wheel Building in Flint, the company said.

In its announcement, XLerateHealth said the move to open Flint was spurred by Phil Hagerman, chief executive of Skypoint Ventures and a founder of 100K Ideas.

“It is an extremely exciting time here in Flint and we are proud to bring a nationally recognized accelerator to our region,”  Hagerman said.

“XLerateHealth has an excellent track record of helping promising startups commercialize and will bring a deep bench of national health care and business experts to our community to grow our innovation capabilities,” he added.

The Louisville-based XLH says it has worked with more than 60 startups since its inception in 2013 and 88% of these companies are still operational. Its flagship 12-week bootcamp and intersession companies have raised over $35 million and its affiliate companies have raised over $500 million, XLerateHealth said.

“We are so excited to bring the XLH program to Flint,” said XLerate’s Jackie Willmot, chief executive and co-founder. “The Flint/Genesee County area is primed to support entrepreneurs – organizations are willing to work side-by-side with innovators, there is support from local government, from the VC and angel investor ecosystem, and a wealth of talent and resources from local universities, including The University of Michigan-Flint.” —Mickey Meece

Log Still Distilling to revitalize a distillery in Nelson County

Log Still Distilling
An older look at the future site of Log Still Distilling in Nelson County | Courtesy of Log Still Distilling

The Dant family is getting back into the bourbon business with the announcement of a $12 million investment in Log Still Distilling, which will revitalize the former Gethsemane Distillery located in Nelson County between New Haven and New Hope.

The news was announced fittingly on Friday, June 14, National Bourbon Day, by J.W. “Wally” Dant, the great-great-great grandson of distilling legend Joseph W. Dant, who started the J.W. Dant brand in the 1800s. That brand is still produced today, although Heaven Hill now owns the rights.

J.W. Dant’s sons actually owned the Gethsemane distillery in the early 20th century, and although it was shut down during Prohibition, they continued distilling there after it was over. It was eventually purchased by United Distillers and Schenley, who moved its operations to Louisville in the early 1960s, and Heaven Hill acquired the brand in the early 1990s.

Under the name Log Still Distilling, Wally Dant said the land will include a distillery, bottling operation, several rick houses and a visitor’s center.

“We are very pleased to be back in our family distilling home,” Dant said in a news release. “Importantly, we want to thank the governor and the commonwealth for assisting us in developing our project and ensuring our rich Dant family legacy. We need to further credit the J.W. Nalley family who preserved much of the former plant, which we will work to renovate into the new distillery.”

The project received a tax incentive up to $500,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program, which was approved by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA), as well as up to $100,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act.

Once up and running, the distillery will employ around 20 full-time jobs. —Sara Havens

Evolent shares keep sliding

A graphic showing the one-year performance of Evolent Health shares
Evolent Health shares have fallen sharply since September. The plunge toward the right was a result of the company’s plan to buy a majority stake in Passport Health Plan. | Graphic courtesy of NASDAQ.

Shares of Evolent Health, the would-be buyer of Louisville-based Passport Health Plan, continue to slide.

On the day that the Arlington, Va.-based company announced that it would try to buy a 70% stake in the embattled Louisville-based nonprofit, its shares fell by more than 29%. About 8.7 million shares traded that day — more than in the 12 prior trading days combined.

The acquisition has yet to be approved by state and federal regulators.

Evolent CEO Frank Williams has said the closer ties with Passport would mean additional revenue for Evolent. Or, he said, if Passport fails, the local nonprofit has enough assets to allow Evolent to recover its planned $70 million investment.

Investors haven’t been buying it.

Since the initial 29% drop, shares have fallen another 19%. Late afternoon Monday, shares were trading for $8.10, down 42.6% since May 28. The slump has wiped out about $500 million in shareholder value.

Shares have lost nearly three-quarters of their value since late September.

A Medicaid expert has told Insider that for the fiscally struggling Passport Health, Evolent’s $70 million bailout and its assurance of additional “interim balance sheet support” were a matter of survival. Without that bailout, the expert said, Passport likely would lack the capital required to even qualify to apply for the new five-year Kentucky Medicaid contract, which is Passport’s sole revenue stream. —Boris Ladwig

Sypris Solutions says (again) it may get kicked off Nasdaq

A chart of Sypris Solution's share price in the last three months
A three-month stock chart of Sypris Solutions. The companys says it once again is facing delisting from the NASDAQ because of a low stock price. | Graphic courtesy of Yahoo! Finance.

Louisville-based Sypris Solutions is once again in danger of being kicked off the Nasdaq because of its low share price.

The stock market index’s Listing Qualifications Staff has notified the local manufacturer that based on its closing price in the last 30 consecutive trading sessions, it “is not currently in compliance with the requirement to maintain a minimum bid price of $1 per share.”

The company’s shares traded for about 82 cents in mid-afternoon trading on Monday.

Sypris said in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that to get back into compliance, its share price must be at least $1 for ten consecutive business days by Dec. 9.

“The Company will monitor the closing bid price of its common stock and consider available options in the event that the closing bid price of its common stock continues to remain below $1 per share closing bid price,” the company said.

“However, there can be no assurance that the Company will be able to regain compliance with the minimum bid price requirement or maintain compliance with the other Nasdaq listing requirements,” it said.

The situation is not new for the company: It faced being delisted in early 2017.

Insider had reported early this month that the company’s low share price was placing it in delisting danger again. —Boris Ladwig

Kentucky achieves better KIDS COUNT ranking

Two children holding hands and smiling while other children walk nearby.
Screenshot from the KIDS COUNT Data Book.

Kentucky has moved up to No. 34 in overall child well-being in the latest KIDS COUNT Data Book by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. That’s an improvement from last year’s No. 37 ranking, but Indiana fares better at No. 29.

The 30th edition of the book shows that Kentucky has made strides in several areas, including teen births, children lacking health insurance, and kids living in households with a high housing cost burden.

But Kentucky still has areas to work on, including a worsening percentage of children ages 3 and 4 not being in school. Also, 22 percent of Kentucky kids live in poverty as of 2017, although that’s improved from 26 percent in 2010.

The percentage of fourth graders who aren’t proficient in reading continued to be high (62 percent in 2017) while 71 percent of eighth graders weren’t proficient in math.—Darla Carter

In brief

The Kentucky Education Association has endorsed Andy Beshear for governor, the group announced Monday. Beshear, the Democratic candidate, showed he has the “best interests of students and educators” in mind in his current capacity as Attorney General.

SkillsUSA, the third-largest convention in Louisville, with an estimated economic impact of $26.7 million, according to Louisville Tourism, is returning June 24-28.  More than 19,000 students, teachers and education leaders are expected to attend to compete in 103 hands-on skill and leadership competitions. Tourism officials expect total hotel room nights for the week at more than 36,987.

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