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.

Access Ventures joins Opportunities Zones Coalition

Courtesy Access Ventures

In a blog post Wednesday, Bryce Butler, managing partner of Access Ventures, announced that because his firm had “experience in working to build more inclusive and creative economies through mission-aligned investments,” it was invited to participate as a member of the Opportunity Zones Coalition.

The coalition describes itself as “a group of organizations working together with a broad array of public and private stakeholders to ensure the timely and effective implementation of the Opportunity Zones program.”

As Insider reported, the $1.5 trillion tax cut bill passed in December contained a provision allowing the creation of Opportunity Zones — low-income areas in which major investors would be incentivized by significantly reduced capital gains taxes.

Butler said in his post that Access Ventures would participate by sharing experiences and best practices dealing with distressed communities in Louisville, but also Columbus, Memphis and Tusla.

The firm would work with national partners like Village Capital, Kiva, Living Cities, LISC and others “to potentially think through, design and implement inclusive investment vehicles,” he said.

And, it would “bring the voices of entrepreneurs in our communities to the national conversation,” Butler wrote. —Mickey Meece

CBRE report shows Louisville is second most-affordable market in U.S.

Screenshot CBRE

The Louisville office of CBRE, the commercial real estate services firm, said its total overall asking rental rate in the first quarter was the second-lowest in the nation, according to CBRE Research.

As the chart shows (above), Louisville’s asking rate of $17.58 per square foot for all building classes was just behind Albuquerque at $15.59.

The report found that the Louisville Downtown Office market was ranked third overall most affordable and Suburban Office was fourth overall most affordable, CBRE said.

Notably, the report showed the Louisville Suburban Office market moved up two spots in Q1 2018 over the Q4 2016 ranking, to $18.18 per square foot, the fourth overall most affordable market in the nation among the 58 suburban markets tracked by CBRE Research. —Mickey Meece

Beam Dental raises $22.5 million, led Kleiner Perkins

Beam Dental of Columbus, Ohio (but formerly of Louisville) raised $22.5 million this week in a round of financing led by the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins.

“We raised $22.5 Million! We’re excited to partner with to change how nearly 100 million Americans, who don’t have coverage today, access affordable dental care,” the company tweeted.

The former Beam Technologies got its start in Louisville thanks to seed financing from Yearling Fund in 2012. The company started out with a Bluetooth-connected toothbrush before it jumped into the $78 billion dental market by offering insurance, CNBC reported.

In 2015, as Insider reported, the Beam Team, led by CEO Alex X Frommeyer, left Louisville for Columbus, when the company received a $5 million investment from Drive Capital, which is based there.

The fresh infusion of funds puts Beam’s total funding at more than $30 million, CNBC said. —Mickey Meece

Louisville gets bronze medal from national health report

Louisville is among 11 cities that earned a bronze medal in the latest CityHealth report, an assessment of whether the nation’s 40 largest cities have nine key policies in place to help residents lead healthier lives and for their communities to thrive.

Cities that get four or more gold, silver or bronze medals across the various policy areas are awarded a bronze medal as part of the initiative by the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente.

Louisville improved its status by earning medals for polices in these four areas: food safety and restaurant inspecting rating (gold); health food procurement (silver); high-quality, universal prekindergarten (silver); and smoke-free indoor air (gold).

The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness tweeted, “Our work to pass strong evidence based policies such as no indoor smoking or vaping improves health for all & has earned a medal in latest @cityhealth rankings.”

To become a gold city like such places as Boston, Chicago and New York, Louisville would have to win five or more gold medals across the policies. Fifteen cities received no overall medal. —Darla Carter

Get your Cherry Ale-8 at Frazier Museum on Friday

In April, Ale-8-One, the regional soft drink maker from Winchester, Ky., introduced its first new flavor in 92 years: Cherry Ale-8.

According to an article in The Herald-Leader on April 24, “Bottles of Cherry Ale-8-One were rolling off the line on Tuesday, and will be shipped to grocery stores in Lexington, Frankfort, Richmond, Winchester, Bowling Green, Owensboro and Elizabethtown … eventually.”

But what about Louisville, fans queried on Ale-8-One’s Facebook page. There was a plan it the works, Ale-8 promised.

This week, the plan was revealed as the Frazier History Museum announced that it was teaming up with the soda maker to become Louisville’s first supplier of Cherry Ale-8-One.

According to a news release, people can purchase Cherry Ale-8 at the museum’s store, located on the first floor near the front entrance. The store will have 500 six-packs available for sale at $4 each on Friday, May 25, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Every customer who purchases a six-pack (limit two per customer) will receive a coupon for $2 off the price of admission to the museum, redeemable through July 29.

“We are excited to work with the Frazier museum. As a 92-year-old Kentucky, family-owned company, we are pleased to demonstrate support for our state and its rich history,” said Ellen McGeeney, Ale-8-One’s chief operating officer and president, in the release. —Mickey Meece

Ousted ed commissioner to lead regional board

A month after his sudden resignation, former state Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt is the new president of the Southern Regional Education Board.

Pruitt was unanimously selected for the position after a monthslong search, according to a news release. He begins in July.

“I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to serve @srebeducation as President,” Pruitt tweeted Thursday. “It is an incredible organization committed to improving education for each student in our 16 member states. I can’t wait to work with this incredible board and staff.”

The board works to improve public education from kindergarten to doctoral levels the member states.

“This is the only regional organization that encourages collaboration among governors, legislators and state education leaders when it comes to implementing sound policies that positively impact children from early childhood through postsecondary education, and I look forward to working with Dr. Pruitt in building on its success,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, chair of the SREB board, said in the release. —Olivia Krauth

State ed board changes contact info after mass of JCPS concerns

The state board of education has government email addresses after members’ personal accounts were swamped with JCPS concerns.

First reported by the Courier Journal, the board members’ personal emails and phone numbers were posted on a contact page for the board. Those have all been switched to “.gov” emails and a main phone line to the Kentucky Department of Education.

“I am truly sorry that you’ve been inundated with calls and emails over the JCPS matter,” Susan Palmer, a secretary in the commissioner’s office, said in an email obtained by the CJ.

Three weeks ago, interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis recommended the state take over the district. The state board will have final say over the recommendation, either approving it or recommending a different path for JCPS.

Since Lewis’ recommendation, parents, teachers and community members have been contacting state board of ed members to voice concerns over the potential takeover, which would strip power from the locally elected school board and leave JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio overseeing the daily operations. —Olivia Krauth

KET to receive national honor for drug coverage

KET has garnered a national award for its coverage of the state’s opioid epidemic. The public media organization is one of six recipients of Mental Health America’s 2018 Media Award.

KET was recognized for Inside Opioid Addiction, which has included nearly 30 broadcast programs. The coverage has ranged from firsthand accounts of citizens seeking substance-abuse treatment to a town-hall style discussion of ways to address the drug crisis.

The Media Award, being presented June 15 in Washington, D.C., recognizes journalists, authors, digital platforms, media outlets, television shows and filmmakers who’ve educated the public about issues surrounding mental illness and addiction and helped to break down stigma and shame.

“The goal of KET’s opioid addiction initiative is to elevate awareness of the complex issues that surround this public health crisis,” KET’s Chief Executive Shae Hopkins said in a news release. “On behalf of our staff and partners, we are honored to receive this recognition.” —Darla Carter

In Brief

Louisville City FC will host the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer in the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on June 5, at 7 p.m. at Lynn Stadium, the club announced Thursday.

The Louisville Palace is one of the nine most “glorious” movie palaces still in operation, according to NextAvenue.

Maria Hughes, senior vice president and chief inclusion and diversity officer at Humana, has landed on Black Enterprise‘s 2018 Top Executives in Corporate Diversity list. Black Enterprise is a multimedia company that serves as a business, investing and wealth-building resource for African-Americans.

This post has been updated with the date and time of LouCity’s U.S. Open Cup match.



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