Welcome to the Aug. 28 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.
Unemployment rate jumps to 5.6 percent
Jefferson County’s unemployment rate has spiked 1.2 percentage points in the last year, to 5.6 percent in July, as the number of new job seekers is outpacing the number of jobs being added by local employers.
The state’s unemployment rate jumped, too, but by a smaller amount, according to the preliminary labor force estimates from the Kentucky Center for Education & Workforce Statistics.
Jefferson County businesses, nonprofits and government last month provided jobs for 383,636 people, up 3 percent from a year earlier.
The local labor force, meanwhile, swelled by more than 16,600, or nearly 4.3 percent, to more than 406,000. The labor force consists of non-military workers and unemployed Kentuckians actively seeking work. It excludes Kentuckians who have not looked for employment within the past four weeks.
Economists generally consider a growing labor force to signal an improving economy, because it indicates that available jobs are prompting people to move to the area or are encouraging current residents, who have been too discouraged to even seek work, to look for jobs.
The downside: When the labor force grows at a faster pace than the number of jobs, the number of people who are reported unemployed increases, as does the unemployment rate. In July, Jefferson County had nearly 23,000 people who were looking for jobs, up nearly 5,500 or 32 percent from a year earlier, when only about 17,000 people were recorded jobless.
The unemployment rate, at 5.6 percent, was up 1.2 percentage points from a year earlier, when it was 4.4 percent.
KCEWS, an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, said that rates in 99 counties jumped in the last year and fell in 18. Woodford County (Versailles) had the lowest rate in July, at 4.3 percent, while Magoffin County, in the east-central part of the state, had the highest, at 17.6 percent.
While the state’s employers added nearly 60,000 jobs in the last year, up 2.8 percent, the labor force, at nearly 2.1 million, expanded by more than 72,000, or 3.6 percent, which pushed up the unemployment rate by 0.8 percentage points, to 5.9 percent.
The labor force growth may be good news for employers. The local chamber of commerce has repeatedly said that employers are struggling to find employees with the right skills and talents and that about 31,000 jobs in Louisville remain unfilled. But the growing labor force also may be bad news for employees: A greater number of job seekers would put a downward pressure on wage growth, which already has been lackluster despite the tight job market.
The unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted because of the small sample sizes. The data are based on estimates and compiled to measure trends rather than actually to county people working. —Boris Ladwig
NuLu property changes hands, new business in the works
Local attorney Scott Justice has purchased a property on Clay Street in NuLu and plans to open a business there, according to public records.
Justice bought 214 S. Clay St. on Aug. 15 for just more than $1 million, county property records state. The property includes a 5,733-square-foot building, with one section that reaches three stories and another that is a single story.
The purchase came to Insider’s attention after an advertisement ran in the local newspaper stating Justice’s intent to file an application for an alcohol license at that address; the advertisement is required by law.
The advertisement notes that Justice, his wife, Lauren Justice, and Andrew Dawkins are hoping to open a business called Nouvelle, which means “new” in French. The trio’s company name, Deja Entendu, also is French; it translates “already heard.”
The business would operate in only a portion of the building, according to the advertisement, and pending licensing approval, it could sell drinks, bottles of beer, wine and spirits, and offer drink samples. The company also is seeking a license to sell alcohol on Sundays.
Steve Forbes at UofL
Publishing icon Steve Forbes will discuss cronyism, capitalism and the nation’s economic situation at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 at Strickler Hall’s Middleton Auditorium.
Forbes, 70, is chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media and its eponymous flagship publication. He also twice ran for the nomination of the Republican Party for president.
The event is being presented by the university’s John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise and is co-sponsored by the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth organization whose alumni include U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller, senior advisor to President Donald Trump. —Boris Ladwig
Plans filed for new apartments in the South End
A new 192-unit apartment building is in the works in Louisville’s Valley Station neighborhood.
Developer Kenneth Delcour filed plans with the city for the apartment project, located at 5209 Elzie Road. The nearly 200 units would be split between nine buildings, a mix of two and three stories, according to the plans. The development would include 419 parking spaces for residents and visitors.
The apartment complex also will feature a clubhouse, pool, kid’s playground and fenced-in dog park, according to the plans.
Kentucky Distillers’ Association adds a director of governmental and external affairs
The Kentucky Distillers’ Association is committed to helping overturn outdated alcohol laws in the commonwealth, and to further their cause, it has hired Bryan Alvey, a respected governmental affairs specialist, to become the organization’s first senior director of governmental and external affairs.
Alvey previously worked as the director of local affairs and policy development for the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation and is a combat veteran who served in three wartime operations.
“We are thrilled to add a distinguished leader of Bryan’s caliber to direct our governmental and regulatory affairs programs,” said KDA President Eric Gregory in a press release. “His reputation lobbying the Kentucky General Assembly is impeccable, and we are impressed with his passion, authentic personality, tireless work ethic and, of course, his service to our country.”
Alvey, who resides in Goshen with his family, will start Sept. 5. He said he is excited to be working in the booming Kentucky bourbon industry, and he’s ready to get to work.
“This is an incredible opportunity to join a thriving industry that contributes so much to the commonwealth,” said Alvey. “The KDA has made tremendous strides in the last few years to modernize Kentucky’s archaic alcohol laws, but there’s still much to be done.” —Sara Havens
KFC premieres a creepier Colonel
KFC has become known for its rotating cast of Colonels, and its latest may just be the creepiest.
He won’t make it onto consumers’ television screens, however; this iteration is just for employees — and readers of Eater, which reported the story.
According to Eater, KFC has debuted a new virtual-reality training game for store-level employees to help them learn how to make Col. Harland Sanders’ signature fried chicken.
The game is set in an escape room with Sanders’ voice talking to the user over what sounds like an intercom or speaker system. Employees have to complete tasks and walk through all the steps of inspecting, washing, breading and frying the chicken before they are allowed to leave.
The video concludes in a KFC break room that gives the whole thing a feeling of being in a dream that some employee had while napping on break.
A spokesperson for KFC told Eater that it is intended to supplement the fried chicken chain’s existing, hands-on training program.
“This is intended to be a fun way to celebrate the work KFC’s more than 19,000 cooks do every day in every restaurant across the U.S. in an engaging way,” the spokesperson told Eater. —Caitlin Bowling
City hires local foundry to clean Castleman
The mayor announced that the city has contracted with local Falls Art Foundry to clean and repair the Castleman statue that was vandalized with red/orange paint on Aug. 13. The company specializes in producing hand-crafted bronze sculptures for public, private and museum presentation.
The city will pay $8,200 for the foundry to clean the statue and re-wax it. The foundry opened last year and is in the Portland neighborhood.
According to a news release, city workers tried to clean the statue on Aug. 14, but soon decided that experts needed to be hired.
After the statue was vandalized, Mayor Greg Fischer called for a review of all of Louisville’s public art to identify other statues that may be seen as honoring bigotry, hatred or racism. He opened a forum for public comments. The Commission on Public Art will hold a public meeting from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 6 in the Old Jail Auditorium, 514 W. Liberty St.
While the Castleman statue depicts its subject in civilian clothes, the marker notes that Castleman was a Confederate major. He led guerrillas in the attempted burning of supply boats and was arrested, convicted of spying, sentenced to death and eventually pardoned. Castleman himself erected the statue with encouragement of family and friends.
Interstate 65 bridge lane closure
Starting today, one northbound lane of the Abraham Lincoln Bridge will be closed daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday.
The closure will allow crews with Walsh Construction “to adjust aesthetic lighting on the bridge,” according to a news release. “The actual starting date and duration for the work may be adjusted if inclement weather or other unforeseen activities occur.”
More than 400 people turned out to celebrate the best local small businesses during the 17th annual Inc.credible Awards at Kentucky Center for the Arts on Thursday.
Greater Louisville Inc. announced the following winners:
Small Business of the Year: Alliance Cost Containment, which helps companies by reducing their indirect expenses
Very Small Business of the Year: findCRA, which brings together banks and nonprofits as Community Reinvestment Act participants
Advance Manufacturing & Logistics Award: SkuVault, a warehouse management technology platform for e-commerce
NonProfit Impact Award New Directions Housing Corporation, which develops and maintains affordable housing and vital communities
Innovation Award: WEST WIND POWER, an alternative energy startup that has invented a method to modify airflow, double wind speed and deliver a low wind velocity power generation unit that is combined with solar panels
Health Care & Wellness Award: UberGreen Spaces & Homes, which builds efficient, third-party green certified homes
People’s Choice Award: Paws With Purpose, which provides highly skilled Assistance Dogs as partners to children and adults with physical disabilities or other special needs at no cost to the recipients (More than 1,600 people voted for this year’s People’s Choice Award online.) —Melissa Chipman