Welcome to the Nov. 19 Monday Business Briefing, your weekly business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Heaven Hill to expand Bardstown visitor center, partners with Louisville’s Solid Light

A rendering of the new visitor center | Courtesy of Heaven Hill

At a news conference Friday morning, representatives from Heaven Hill and Solid Light gathered at Heaven Hill’s home base in Bardstown to announce a $17.5 million visitor center expansion.

The project is part of a multiyear $65 million investment the distillery is making.

The new visitor center will focus on the story of Heaven Hill since its beginning in 1935 by the Shapira family. It’ll also offer tastings, seminars, interactive exhibits, a hands-on “You Do Bourbon” area where you can bottle your own bourbon, a rooftop bar and more retail space, of course.

“When it opens, guests will have a truly comprehensive and immersive experience that tells the Heaven Hill story, the stories of Elijah Craig and Larceny, and immerses them both in the history of not only Kentucky bourbon, but the larger history of bourbon in America,” Solid Light’s Cynthia Torp said in a news release.

Solid Light is a Louisville-based company that has built exhibits, experiences and visitor centers for distilleries, museums and more all over the country.

The expanded visitor center will create 20 new full-time and part-time positions. The company also plans to expand its barrel warehousing, bottling line and equipment upgrades. —Sara Havens

Brown-Forman hikes dividend, pay for incoming CEO

Lawson Whiting

Louisville-based distiller Brown-Forman Corp. said it will increase its quarterly dividend for class A and Class B shares by 5.1 percent, to $0.166 cents. Those who own shares as of Dec. 6 will get the new dividend on Jan. 2.

CEO Paul Varga said in an SEC filing that the company is increasing the dividend for the 35th year in a row.

“Returning cash to our shareholders has been an important contributor to our ability to generate great returns for our shareholders,” said Varga, who will retire at the end of the year.

His successor, Lawson Whiting, also got some good news in the filing, as his salary and incentive compensations will go up when he becomes CEO Jan. 1.

Whiting’s annual salary, including holiday bonus, will jump to $1,041,700, up 66.6 percent from this year, which was up 26 percent from 2017, according to the company’s latest proxy filing. That means on Jan. 1, Whiting’s annual salary will have more than doubled over a two-year period — though he still will be making about $100,000 less than Varga is earning this year.

Brown-Forman also is boosting Whiting’s short- and long-term incentive compensation, which are tied to how the company’s shareholder return compares to others in the industry and companies on the S&P 500. Beginning Jan. 1, Whiting’s short-term incentive pay jumps to $1.25 million, up about 220 percent from this year, while his long-term incentive pay will reach $3.5 million, up about 340 percent. —Boris Ladwig

New bars, food options at downtown arena

A Falls City bar will debut at KFC Yum! Center in December. | Courtesy of Centerplate

Roughly this time next week, the KFC Yum! Center will open up a new bar dedicated to Kentucky bourbon brand Jim Beam.

A model home installed near section 106 on the arena’s main concourse is being remodeled and turned into a replica of the Jim Beam House in Bardstown, Ky. Called the Jim Beam Bourbon Bar, it will naturally serve Jim Beam products. The new bar opens Nov. 27, food and beverage provider Centerplate announced.

Jim Beam’s former “Spirits Depot,” behind section 310, will be turning into a Maker’s Mark Bar. Both brands are owned by Suntory Holdings Ltd.

In December, the KFC Yum! Center also will add a new beer garden serving Louisville-based Falls City Beer near section 104 on the main concourse, according to Centerplate.

Other changes headed to the arena include the elimination of plastic straws and the replacement of the Metro Grill and Main Street Franks concepts with Farmstead Chicken & Burgers and Haute Dog concepts. Farmstead Chicken & Burgers will serve locally sourced meat in burger and grilled chicken sandwich form behind sections 103, 119, 307 and 324. Haute Dog will offer specialty hot dogs near sections 110, 309 and 322. —Caitlin Bowling

Kentucky Owl Park in Bardstown names architect, releases amazing renderings

The pyramids of bourbon | Courtesy of Kentucky Owl

In 2017, a state agency announced that the Stoli Group had purchased Kentucky Owl bourbon and had plans for a $150 million bourbon park in Bardstown, Ky. And just last week, news and renderings trickled out about the 420-acre site that’ll include three pyramids that’ll house the still and other distillery equipment, rick houses, lakes and even a dinner train.

According to the Kentucky Owl website, Stoli has chosen Shigeru Ban Architects for the project, a firm with offices in Tokyo, Paris and New York that has built more than 100 projects on six continents.

A video shows dozens of renderings of the land and buildings that honor the traditions of bourbon-making while offering a modern look — well, other than the pyramids — based in vernacular design. (Seeing those shimmering copper stills situated in one pyramid gave us chills.)

Construction will begin in early 2020, according to a Lexington-Herald article, with distilling beginning in 2022. —Sara Havens

UPS installs new flight simulators in Louisville

UPS planes at Worldport in Louisville | Photo by Boris Ladwig

Logistics giant UPS is hiring about 275 pilots this year, and many of them will receive training in Louisville, where, this month, the company will complete work on a 28,000-square-foot Global Aviation Training Center.

The company already has installed two of three new flight simulators that are pending FAA certification, the company told Insider via email. Once the third one arrives, nine of the company’s full-motion flight simulators will be in Louisville.

UPS said that it uses the simulators — for a Boeing 747-400 and a McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 — to help prepare pilots for even rare scenarios such as bird strikes or hail storms.

UPS spokesman Jim Mayer told Insider that UPS is hiring 275 pilots this year in part because they are replacing pilots who hit 65 and have to retire per FAA regulation, but also to accommodate the company’s growth.

The new facility houses the simulators on the first floor and training, conference and briefing rooms on the second floor.

“Three Visual Pilot Training rooms contain video monitors that simulate a cockpit setup and will support Aircraft Maintenance Technician training as well,” Air Region Project Manager Adam Murray said in a news release.

UPS said the building also features an eco-friendly design, with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification. For example, the company said that glass windows surrounding the simulator bays reduce the need for artificial lighting during the day.

“It’s important we maintain an eco-friendly work environment, during and after the facility is built,” said Murray. “In doing so, we are able to control our waste stream and reduce the number of trips to the landfill.” —Boris Ladwig

Churchill Downs gets license for new $150M racing facility

A rendering of the proposed Oak Grove facility. | Courtesy of Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs and Keeneland Association Inc. said that they have been awarded a racing license by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for the proposed $150 million Oak Grove racing facility.

The companies said in a news release Friday that the commission has granted a license for 12 live harness racing dates beginning in October 2019. The facility also will include up to 1,500 historical racing machines, a 125-room hotel, a 3,000-persona capacity outdoor amphitheater and stage, indoor and outdoor equestrian arenas and a 1,200-person capacity grandstand.

Churchill Downs said the proposed racing facility will create nearly 400 full- and part-time jobs and 800 construction jobs. The Louisville-based company will own 95 percent of the development, with Keeneland owning 5 percent. —Boris Ladwig

Statewide Mortgage moves into new $5.2 million office

Statewide Mortgage sitting area in Keith Swisher’s office | Courtesy of New West Agency

Lending company Statewide Mortgage cut the ribbon on its new headquarters last week.

The company bought the 53,000-square-foot building, located at 10140 Linn Station Road, for $4.2 million in 2017 and spent another $1 million to renovate it in order to house Statewide Mortgage’s 81 employees, as well as the 21 employees of Swisher Insurance. Both are led by founder Keith Swisher.

“I’m most proud of the fact that the people who work here, that I love and think the world of, are finally getting the facilities they deserve,” Swisher said in a news release. “They have stuck with us, and we are loyal to them.”

The relocation and renovation qualified for incentives from the City of Jeffersontown’s JOBS program. Statewide Mortgage received preliminary approval for $600,000 in tax credits and wage assessment benefits from the Kentucky Business Investment program.

“We are glad to see Statewide Mortgage experiencing the kind of success that enabled them to invest in a new headquarters,” Jeffersontown Mayor Bill Dieruf said in the release. “We work with our businesses to support them and help them make moves like this that keep them within our great city.” —Caitlin Bowling

Wingstop opening another Louisville location

Buffalo Wild Wings competitor Wingstop is adding a third restaurant in Louisville.

Ken Wygle, of Weingarten Realty, leased a 1,829-square-foot space in Festival at Jefferson Court, 4605 Outer Loop, near Jefferson Mall, to Wingstop, a news release stated.

Wingstop locally is operated by franchisees Eddie and Renee Williams, according to the release. Their other Wingstop locations are on Dixie Highway just past Rockford Lane and on Hurstbourne Parkway between Taylorsville Road and Bunsen Way.

Wingstop’s menu features bone-in and boneless chicken wings, chicken tenders and fries. Flavors include mango habanero, lemon pepper, garlic Parmesan and original hot, among others. Its hours of operation are 11 a.m. to midnight daily. —Caitlin Bowling

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