Welcome to The Closing Bell. This is your last stop for biz scoops and big news before the weekend — a roundup of stories that can’t wait till Monday.

Shipping container apartments planned in Schnitzelburg

Former shipping containers house Copper & Kings’ gift shop. Shipping containers served as bars at ReSurfaced and are being looked at to create Opportunity Corner, a business and education hub in west Louisville.

But a new project in Louisville wants residents to call shipping containers “Home Sweet Home.”

Husband and wife team Rick Kueber and Bella Portaro Kueber are two of the people behind the project. The Kuebers said they visited a bar in Texas made out of shipping containers and wanted to replicate something similar here.

After a lunch meeting with friend and Realtor Gant Hill, of Gant Hill and Associates, the idea turned residential. It turns out Hill had been having similar talks with Jeremy Semones, owner of metal work business Core Design, which completed several container projects including the one at Copper & Kings.

Container homes are “modern” and “unique,” said Hill, who helped the Kuebers secure three plots of land at the corner of Shelby and Ash streets on the edge of Schnitzelburg near Shelby Park.

“We love the gritty urban landscape that is kind of mixed in with the cool and redeveloped Germantown Mill Lofts,” Hill said. “For me, it celebrates our heritage as a distribution hub.”

The neighborhood is rapidly growing, with the 188-unit Germantown Mill Lofts set to come online this spring and the 147-unit Bradford Mill Lofts in the works. It also has seen an influx of young renters and home buyers.

“The Schnitzelburg-Germantown area is probably the most progressive,” Kueber said.

Hill and the Kuebers have worked with Core Design and local architect Mark Foxworth, of Foxworth Architecture, on the design and layout of the container homes, going through two or three iterations before landing on the above renderings.

The group hopes to build six to eight one-bedroom container homes total on the properties and rent them out. Each floor would be 320-square-feet, and the apartments would include a rooftop patio.

“It is a very functional living space,” said Portaro Kueber, adding that container homes appeal to the minimalist and eco-friendly movements in America.

“It suits a lot of people, and it creates a reuse for containers,” she said. After the U.S. became known for excess, “a lot of people are starting to return to ‘We don’t need this.’”

The shipping containers also offer diverse layouts depending on how they are connected, said Kueber, comparing them to Legos. “The possibilities are endless.”

Proponents of container homes tout them as affordable and alternative living spaces. New Jersey architect Adam Kilkin sells a basic 2,000-square-foot container home design for $119,000, according to an article on CNN.

They’ve been gaining in popularity during the last couple years. Just check out these “45 Amazing Homes and Offices Built from Shipping Containers” on Popular Mechanics.

The Kuebers hope their project will be the first of many in Louisville.

“If this project inspires others to do the same, I think it would be absolutely terrific for the city,” Kueber said.

The next hurdle to jump for this project is city approval. The properties are zoned R-6, which allows for multifamily residential homes, but it is unclear exactly what regulations could be applied to these unconventional homes.

Rather than having them all separate, for example, Kueber said, the city may require the individual units to touch. The project ventures into territory that Louisville’s Land Development Code hasn’t dealt with before.

“The city has never seen anything like this.” —Caitlin Bowling

U.S. News & World Report partners with RowdMap for Best Hospitals project

smallrowdmap1U.S. News & World Report, publisher of Best Hospitals, is collaborating with RowdMap and using the Louisville-based company’s analytics on doctors and medical procedures.

This partnership will allow people who are researching hospitals and doctors on the publication’s website to find out information about over-performed medical treatments that may be unnecessary or inappropriate, also known as “low-” or “no-value” care. These procedures put patients in unnecessary risk and waste millions of dollars in care a year.

“It’s no secret that patients often undergo unnecessary procedures that can be dangerous and costly,” said Chad Smolinski, chief product officer for U.S. News & World Report. “Through our collaboration with RowdMap, we are providing patients with meaningful information about these no- or low-value treatments, allowing them to make better, more informed decisions about their doctors, hospitals and medical care.”

RowdMap is a tech startup that “helps health plans, government payers, providers, and hospital systems develop Risk-Readiness strategies to excel as they transition from fee-for-service to pay-for value,” according to its website. With a focus on research and data, the company has developed a “Risk Readiness Platform.” —Melissa Chipman

Flavorman-developed beverage company to appear on ‘Shark Tank’ spin-off 

BeatBox boom box box | Photo by BeatBox

A company that developed their uniquely flavored wines at Louisville’s Flavorman earned one of the biggest investments in ABC’s “Shark Tank” history.

In October 2014, on “Shark Tank,” Mark Cuban, billionaire owner and chairman of AXS TV and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, invested $1 million in the company in return for 33 percent of the business. Now BeatBox Beverages will be featured on the companion show, “Beyond the Tank.”

BeatBox Beverages is based in Austin, Texas. They returned to Louisville to work with Flavorman again during the filming of “Beyond the Tank.” The episode will air on Feb. 5.

ABC describes the premise of the show: “As the Sharks travel across America to mentor the entrepreneurs, assess the businesses and provide their industry expertise — to make a profit — audiences will realize the challenges and spirited negotiations are never over. What lies in the aftermath of their investment? Did a promising deal turn sour, or did it lead to millions of dollars in sales?”

Flavorman was founded in 1992 by David Dafoe as a beverage development lab and works with products from sports drinks to liqueurs. Read our “vintage” 2012 in-depth look at Flavorman here. Beverage architect Kristen Wemer helped the BeatBox team create new flavors to present to Cuban.

BeatBox sells fruity wines in a box shaped like a boom box. Current flavors include: fruit punch, cranberry limeade, blue razzberry lemonade, grape and lemon lime. The three-liter boxes have and 11 perecent ABV and retail in the mid-$20 range. –Melissa Chipman

Papa John’s apologizes following Stalin debacle

Russian citizens did not take kindly this week to a Papa John’s International’s promotion offering customers a free pizza if they could work out who a Soviet tank was named after.

PapaJohnsThe answer is iron-fisted Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, whose reign was characterized by famine and the murder of millions. And naturally, people were not happy.

“Papa John’s pizzeria has introduced a promotional code JOSEPHSTALIN. They offer a Hawaiian or a pepperoni for the dictator’s name,” Russian TV station editor Ilya Klishin wrote on Facebook. “Seriously. I’m not kidding. My grandfather Aleksey Somov was repressed with his only fault being an engineer and building an electric mill (which was ruled ‘excessively bourgeois’ and demolished), so I send my best regards to these sick bastards.”

The company promptly apologized.

“Papa John’s pizza chain sincerely apologizes to anyone whose feelings were hurt by the ‘josephstalin’ promotional code,” the company posted on Facebook. “Papa John’s did not under any circumstance intend to reconsider or give a personal assessment of Joseph Stalin’s record – we always try to stay out of politics. Unluckily, we failed to do so this time.” —Caitlin Bowling

Two Yum! executives make national restaurant publication’s 2016 Power List

With major operations and organizational changes ahead for Louisville-based Yum! Brands Inc., it’s unsurprising that the company’s top two executives made Nation’s Restaurant News’ The Power List 2016.

Yum!_Brands_Logo.svgThe annual list looks at the 50 most influential people in the culinary industry, including people to watch. On the list this year are Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed and Yum China CEO Micky Pant.

Both made the cut because of the company’s plans to spin off its China operations in late 2016. “The industry is watching with interest,” NRN stated in its profile of Creed.

NRN also noted that Creed has 20 years experience with the company and previously headed Yum’s growing subsidiary Taco Bell, a continued success story for the restaurant giant.

Pant was listed as someone to watch in the industry this year. He will take over control of China’s operations once the split is complete.

“It’s up to him to guide the once-high-flying KFC and Pizza Hut brands in China back to success in the wake of several years’ worth of food safety scares and errors in understanding the country’s changing consumer,” NRN states. “A turnaround under Pant would ensure a steady income stream from China for Yum, without the volatility seen over the past three-plus years.”—Caitlin Bowling

Headline speakers for the 2016 Leadership Summit will be…

Louisville-LeadershipLeadership Louisville has announced its two headline speakers for the 2016 Best of Leadership Summit: leading expert on innovation leadership Luke Williams and best-selling author of “The Warmth of Other Suns” Isabel Wilkerson. The event will be held March 3 at The Kentucky Center for the Arts.

Williams is executive director of the Berkley Entrepreneurship Center and Professor of Innovation at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He holds over 50 U.S. patents and is the best-selling author of “Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business.”

Wilkerson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.”The Warmth of Other Suns” is about African-American migration north from around 1917 until 1970. Her talk will be about her recent article “Our Racial Moment of Truth” about persistent racial injustice and how we can learn from history.

Other speakers at the event include jazz musician Dick Sisto, Miss Kentucky 2010 Djuan Trent, and CEO of Big Ass Fans Carey Smith.

Registration information here. —Melissa Chipman

Spokesman: Louisville Auto Show attendance increased from last year

2017 Ford Escape | Courtesy of Ford Motor Co.
2017 Ford Escape at the 2016 Louisville Auto Show | Courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

Attendance at this year’s Louisville Auto Show increased slightly from last year, according to preliminary estimates, and area auto dealers said they were happy with the turnout, a spokesman said.

Scott Roth, president of the Greater Louisville Auto Dealers Association, said that attendance figures are still being collected, but he estimates that about 20,000 stopped by, up about 2,000 from last year.

He said the the 62 participating automotive dealers said they were pleased with the increased foot traffic and reported lots of interest in the roughly 125 vehicles from about 25 manufacturers that were on display. The show featured vehicles including the Acura RDX, Mercedes Benz E350, and the locally produced 2017 Ford Escape and 2017 Ford Super Duty.

Roth said visitors to the Kentucky Exposition Center took lots of test drives and showed an interest in the vehicles, which was exactly what dealers were looking for.

For the first time, the show also introduced visitors to some exotic cars, including three Lamborghinis, a Ferrari and a Porsche. The show raised nearly $1,000 for adoption nonprofit Wednesday’s Child from donations people gave for being able to have their photo taken while sitting in the Ferrari.Boris Ladwig

Speaking of autos … Ford Focus RS to launch from U.S. dealers this spring

Ford Focus RS | Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.
Ford Focus RS | Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

A Ford Focus with 350 horsepower, a sub 5-second 0-62 and a top speed of 165 mph? Check, check and check.

Ford Motor Co. said this week that the Ford Focus RS will arrive in U.S. showrooms this spring.

It’ll technically be an import – it’s produced exclusively at Ford’s Saarlouis, Germany plant – but you may not care once the car’s 350 ponies propel you to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds. Base price starts at $36,605.

Power comes from a specially engineered version of the 2.3-liter Ecoboost engine that you can find in a Mustang. Ford said it’s the “fastest-accelerating Ford RS model ever.”

The automaker is bringing the Focus RS to the U.S. to capitalize on strong sales of its performance cars here, including the tamer Focus ST and Fiesta ST, which saw sales increase 9 percent and 4 percent last year.

The company said that the Focus RS is one of 12 performance vehicles it will release globally through 2020.

The hatchback also comes with all-wheel drive, dynamic torque vectoring (which allows varying power to be transmitted to each wheel), and four drive modes.

If the Focus RS doesn’t quite pack enough punch for you, you can always wait a little for the all-new Ford GT supercar. —Boris Ladwig

Bellarmine president elected to executive committee of national higher-ed council

Joseph McGowan | Photo by Bellarmine University
Joseph McGowan | Photo by Bellarmine University

Dr. Joseph McGowan, president of Bellarmine University, has been elected treasurer of the Council of Independent Colleges for a two-year term, from January 2016 through January 2018.

McGowan is Bellarmine’s third president and assumed the post in 1990.

The CIC provides services and initiatives directly to independent colleges and universities to help them improve the educational and cultural climates of their schools.

“The council is pleased to have Dr. McGowan as a member of the Board’s executive committee,” said the council’s president, Richard Ekman, in a news release. “CIC continues to implement many new programs, projects and services, and needs a strong executive committee to oversee their planning and execution. I am certain that Jay will serve the council admirably, and I look forward to working with him.”

McGowan has served on many national boards including the American Council on Education and the Council of Independent Colleges. — Melissa Chipman

College-bound? Get in your financial aid application

If you’re planning to go (or send a kid) to college next year and you’re hoping for some financial aid, you should act quickly and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Federal aid dollars in Kentucky are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

degreesLouisville’s 55,000 Degrees, an education-focused public-private partnership, suggested that people file the application even if they do not think that they will qualify based on family income.

“Most colleges will offer a package of financial aid, including scholarships, loans, work-study, etc., based both on your financial need and a host of other factors determined by the college or university,” the organization said in a press release. “Most of those schools require that you have filled out the FAFSA before you are considered for their packages.”

“Don’t leave money on the table,” said Emma Brown, the agency’s director of community engagement. “You want to get all the financial assistance you qualify for. Applying for financial aid online is the first step toward doing that. College may be more affordable than you think. ”

55,000 Degrees wants to add 40,000 bachelor’s and 15,000 associate degrees by 2020 to prepare the community and its residents for the jobs of the future. —Boris Ladwig

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