Welcome to the May 1 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Management purge at Eclipse Bank

Andrew Pyles

Less than a month into his tenure, new Eclipse Bank President Andrew Pyles is cleaning house: On Thursday, he let go of about half the institution’s leadership team, including the chief financial officer and three vice presidents, a person familiar with the matter told Insider.

While bank leaders did not comment on what prompted the actions, Eclipse Bank Interim CEO Bob Hill told Insider via email that Pyles “was just restructuring his management team.”

Pyles, a 37-year-old Campbellsville native, at the end of March succeeded Steve Stratton, who left in February.

Eclipse, established in 2005, is headquartered at 3827 Shelbyville Road and reported net income of $423,000 last year, according to the FDIC. It had assets of nearly $150 million as of Dec. 31.

The source also told Insider that before the purge, the bank had about 20 employees, including eight vice presidents.

The source also questioned Pyles’ academic credentials, which, according to an email from the bank a month ago, included stints at the University of Kentucky and the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Pennsylvania. Pyles’ LinkedIn page lists the same institutions.

UK told Insider that it had no record of attendance of anyone by Pyles’ name.

In response to further inquiries from IL, Hill said that Pyles “attended the former Lexington Community College, which at the time was part of the University of Kentucky … . The board has no reason to doubt the validity of Mr. Pyles’ resumé.”

LCC is now called Bluegrass Community and Technical College, a two-year institution that is part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. It is just north of UK’s Commonwealth Stadium.

Meanwhile, the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Pennsylvania, which Pyles’ LinkedIn page indicates he attended “2009 – 2011,” offers “three one-week sessions over a three-year period” to limit students’ time out of the office, according to a video the institution has posted on YouTube.

Screenshot from a YouTube video.

Pyles did not obtain a degree from either institution, the bank said. Of the four managers who were let go, at least one has an MBA, and three have at least bachelor’s degrees, including the former CFO, who is a certified public accountant.

Eclipse said that Pyles has been in the banking industry for 15 years, and Hill said that the new president came to Eclipse as a market president of Community Trust Bank, which, with almost $4 billion in assets, is significantly larger than Eclipse.

“I would like to assure you that the entire Board of Directors of Eclipse has complete confidence in Mr. Pyles’ management ability and fully supports his management decisions,” Hill said. —Boris Ladwig

Business-related takeaways from the mayor’s budget

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer debuted his budget last Thursday detailing where he’d like to see Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government to spend a $593 million operating budget.

While every measure, including the heavy focus on public safety, can have an impact on business, Insider wanted to highlight a few business-related tidbits from the mayor’s proposed budget.

  • The economy is improving, and businesses are investing in Louisville, Fischer said, which is why revenue from occupational taxes is expected to rise $11.4 million next fiscal year, to $360 million.
  • There is no proposed tax increase in the budget. However, it includes an increase in the fee for health department inspections, a fee that impacts Louisville’s roughly 4,000 restaurants. It also includes a 1 cent increase in building permit fees for commercial and industrial developments.
  • Louisville chamber Greater Louisville Inc. won’t receive any funding from the city this year. Despite the fact that the two parties went their separate ways a few years ago, GLI had still received $300,000 annually from the city. This year, the funding instead was allocated to the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
  • The mayor has recommended giving $13.5 million to the city’s economic development arm, Louisville Forward, specifically for economic development, a decrease of 7.1 percent compared to the approved budget for this fiscal year. Still, Louisville Forward accounts for 23.3 percent of the total capital appropriations.

Budget hearings are scheduled throughout May and June to allow Louisville Metro Council to hear feedback from various stakeholders. —Caitlin Bowling

Old Louisville Winn-Dixie property sold to group hoping to bring in grocery tenant

The old Winn-Dixie site is located at Fourth and Oak streets. | File Photo

The former site of a Winn-Dixie grocery store is now under the ownership of a group, according to county property records.

The group bought the 2.35-acre lot at 1148 Fourth St., near West Oak Street, for $928,211 on April 10, property records show. It was previously owned by a company from Nevada.

The 43,000-square-foot former Winn-Dixie building still sits on the site, and there have been different efforts to revitalize the large, vacant property. In 2015, Indianapolis-based Milhaus Ventures had won a bid to build a mixed-use development on the property with commercial space and apartments. However, the company later abandoned its plans, saying it was not feasible.

According to the website Broken Sidewalk, which first reported the sale, local developer and attorney Joe Impellizzeri is working with the new owners in an effort to bring a grocery store back to that site in Old Louisville.

The neighborhood is a food desert. The last Old Louisville grocery store closed this year.

Impellizzeri told Broken Sidewalk that he had reached out to grocery store companies locally and out-of-town but had not been successful. The property is hard to market because grocery chains typically rely on real-estate brokers, and those brokers favor suburban spots where there is less risk and larger payouts, he told Broken Sidewalk.

City leaders and residents will need to come together to help attract a grocer to the site, he said. —Caitlin Bowling

KyCAD names Moira Scott Payne as its first dean

Moira Scott Payne | Courtesy of KyCAD

Since its formation in 2009, the Kentucky College of Art + Design has attracted more than 130 students and expanded its faculty from seven to 13. Now, it has named its first dean, Scotland native Moira Scott Payne, who comes to Louisville from Seattle, where she served as vice president of academic affairs for Cornish College of the Arts.

She’ll step into the new position on June 15 and will report to Spalding University president Tori Murden McClure.

“I believe that the Kentucky College of Art and Design, in partnership with leading arts organizations — Kentucky Opera, the Speed Museum, Actors Theatre and others — has the potential to become an energetic source of arts agency in the city,” said Scott Payne in a press release. “The arts reflect and create culture, and this new dynamic small school is looking to create a space for creative innovation, citywide conversations and optimistic change.”

The founder and chancellor of KyCAD, Churchill Davenport, said he believed Scott Payne has the capacity to help put the college on the map both locally and nationally.

“This is a really big moment for the school,” said Davenport. “Louisville supports excellence, and Moira is a first-class leader who will generate the kind of support we need to build something great right here.”

KyCAD began its search for a dean last October with a 16-member committee. —Sara Havens

Waterfront Park gets KEDFA grant but takes a dip in the city budget

Thanks to a Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority project grant, the Waterfront Development Corporation has funding to get new, energy-efficient lights for the Great Lawn; upgrade the playground and spray park and replace worn out mowing equipment. The grant is for just over $376,000.

But funding from the city was down for WDC by 1.3 percent in Mayor Greg Fischer’s proposed budget, which he revealed last week, placing safety as top priority.

WDC President David Karem publicly called out Governor Matt Bevin this time last year for vetoing funds that were to the park. The General Assembly had granted Waterfront Development Corp. $420,000 a year for two years, but the governor vetoed that portion of the budget. Karem took issue with the fact that the funds were vetoed on the same day the governor granted Answers in Genesis’ Ark Park $18 million in tax breaks. (The county the Ark Encounter is in, Grant County, is facing bankruptcy.)

This month, renderings for Waterfront Park Phase IV were shared. The timeline for that $35 million project that expands the park westward is unclear. –-Melissa Chipman

Local wins Popeyes Franchisee of the Year and is adding two stores

“Popeye Bill” | Photo courtesy of Popeyes

Bill Mann was named Popeyes (no, there is no apostrophe) Louisiana Kitchen Restaurants’ Franchisee of the Year for 2016. By the end of 2017, he will have added two new stores to the Kentuckiana region, bringing “Popeye Bill’s” total to 11 stores.

To award Franchisee of the Year, Popeyes looks at “operations, marketing, development and servant leadership,” according to a news release. Believe it or not, the idea of  “servant leadership” is not a trendy new business philosophy in which servant leaders share power and help people who work for them develop and perform as highly as possible. It’s as old as the Tao Te Ching, according to Wikipedia.

Mann told IL that the honor typically goes to “100-store people” and that he figures he won because of the culture created at stores that were struggling when he took over five of them in 2010. He said he pretty much cleared house when he bought the stores, getting rid of managers and shift managers. He wanted people to feel like his Popeyes had a “Disney World atmosphere” and that hope was “as much for the crew as the customers.”

Repeatedly during the interview, he stressed how fantastic his team of 350 some employees is. “They’re a great bunch of people,” he said.

But Mann also sounds pretty great. Early on, when he noticed that some of his employees weren’t eating during their shift breaks, he realized that maybe they didn’t have enough money to pay for food. Now, every employee gets a free meal on their shift. Also, he said, stellar employees are offered some ownership in new stores and share in the profits immediately.

The grand opening of Mann’s new Popeyes at 2170 State Street in the New Albany Plaza is on May 7. The hours are 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. He hopes to hire up to 60 new employees, from management down, for the restaurant. New employees are hired above minimum wage and can fast track to management. Dunn prides himself on the “extremely positive culture” of his stores.

Later in the year, “Popeye Bill” will be bringing the fried chicken and Louisiana-style sides to Fern Creek near the Glenmary subdivision.

Fun fact: The 2016 Popeyes International Market of the Year is Jordan.

Fun fact 2: The restaurant was founded in New Orleans by the late Al Copeland, who was so flashy and brash that he makes “Papa” John Schnatter look tame in comparison. Copeland always joked that when he started Popeyes he was “too poor to afford an apostrophe.”–Melissa Chipman