Welcome to the April 3 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Most stocks of local importance had a bad first quarter

With the exception of Sypris Solutions, stocks of local importance had a lackluster to abysmal first quarter.

Of 14 companies whose stock price Insider tracked for the last three months, only one, Sypris, performed significantly better than the S.&P. 500, while 11 lagged far behind the broad index, which has gained 5.5 percent so far this year. Half of the companies suffered losses, with financial stocks performing particularly poorly.

Shares of Louisville-based manufacturer Sypris Solutions have spiked more than 20 percent this year, to $1.06. The share price had hovered around 90 cents for about two months — until Tuesday, when it jumped 14 percent after Sypris reported that it had nearly completed actions that would reduce costs by $18.2 million this year.

Those actions include transferring forging and machining operations from the Broadway Plant in Louisville to other locations. The company said in the earnings statement that while that transfer is expected to be largely completed by midyear, the plant will continue to operate on a reduced basis into next year.

Sypris makes trailer beams, axle shafts and other related parts used in cars, trucks, and farm equipment.

The rising share price is welcome news for Sypris, which faces delisting from the Nasdaq because it had not been in compliance with the minimum share price of $1. In filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company had said that it needs to attain a price of at least $1 per share for 10 consecutive business days by July 5. As of Friday, the price had exceeded $1 for four consecutive days.

Shares of Kindred Healthcare, at $8.35 on Friday, have risen 6 percent so far this year, primarily because of a big jump in late February, when the Louisville-based hospital and rehab center operator reported fourth-quarter earnings. CEO Benjamin Breier said at the time that the company had growth in its home health, hospice and rehab businesses and made progress on its plan to exit the skilled nursing home business.

However, Kindred’s shares also have fallen 17 percent since early March, when they traded for nearly $10.

Churchill Downs is the only other company of local importance that enjoyed a gain similar to the S.&P.

CafePress and Brown-Forman (both up 2.7 percent,) Humana (1 percent) and Yum (0.9 percent) are in positive territory for the year but shares of Ford, UPS, Papa John’s and PharMerica have fallen between 4 percent and 7 percent.

Financial stocks have gotten hammered: Republic Bancorp on Friday closed at $34.39, down 13 percent for the year. Stock Yards, at $40.65, was down 13.4 percent, and Porter Bancorp traded for $9.58, down a whopping 22 percent since the end of last year.

Financial stocks were one of the main beneficiaries of the election of Donald Trump, with all three rising more than 20 percent between Nov. 8 and the end of last year. A financial researcher had told Insider at the time that investors were expecting Trump and the GOP-controlled U.S. Congress to alter some post-recession bank regulations that had increased financial corporations’ operational costs.

However, Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, told MarketWatch recently that investors are resetting their expectations.

“I think that investors are kind of starting to discount the likelihood of the immediacy of (Trump’s) policies and the enthusiasm has come off the boil as a lot of his policies got mired in the legislative process,” Ablin said. Boris Ladwig

Local Delta Dental CEO resigns

Dr. Cliff Maesaka

The CEO of Delta Dental of Kentucky has stepped down.

Dr. Cliff Maesaka, who had been with the nonprofit since 1995,  has resigned, the organization said in a press release, and former Papa John’s exec Jude Thompson has been named interim CEO.

The company did not provide a reason for the resignation and said it would not comment beyond what was in the press release.

Louisville-based Delta Dental Plans of Kentucky is one of 39 independent Delta Dental member companies that provide services to about 56 million Americans. Member companies in 2013 “processed more than 90 million dental claims, or approximately 1.7 million every week,” according to the company’s website.

The local affiliate said that under Maeska’s leadership the organization “experienced tremendous growth.”

“We are very appreciative to Cliff for his commitment to the oral health of Kentuckians and to this organization,” said Bruce Smith, board chair for Delta Dental of Kentucky.

Interim CEO Thompson has served on the board since 2009. He previously was a senior vice president for Wellpoint, president of individual business for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and president and co-CEO of Papa John’s.

A search for Maesaka’s successor will begin immediately, the company said. Boris Ladwig

Jeffersonville offering grants to downtown homeowners

The Front Porch Project grant program gives funds to homeowners to make exterior improvements. | Courtesy of Jeffersonville Main Street Inc.

The city of Jeffersonville is helping homeowners downtown spruce up their facades.

City leaders, through a partnership with Jeffersonville Main Street Inc. and the Jeffersonville Urban Enterprise Association, are offering residents up to $3,000 through its new Front Porch Project grants program to invest in exterior improvements to owner-occupied homes.

The grant program does require an investment on the part of the homeowner. The property owner must match the amount of the Front Porch Project grant.

“This project really shows that historic preservation is economic development,” Jay Ellis, executive director of Jeffersonville Main Street, said in an announcement about the grants. “This is an award-winning project that has been recognized as a model for other communities.”

Homeowners can apply online. The deadline is April 27. —Caitlin Bowling

Frankfort Avenue church selling again

The James Lees Memorial Presbyterian Church will still become offices. | Courtesy of Jefferson County PVA

The James Lees Memorial Presbyterian Church is changing hands again after the building went back on the market last year.

Development group JDA Properties bought the church building in April 2015 for $295,000, according to county property records. The plan was for Louisville-based concrete supplier Advance Ready Mix to renovate the property and open its office there. The company also hoped to find someone who’d open a retail shop in a small section of the building.

However, the project never moved forward, and the development group decided to place it on the market. The property was listed for $475,000.

William Friel, a real estate agent with Weichert, Realtors — ABG Properties, told Insider Louisville that the new owner is expected to close on the property next week.

“It’s a local company, and they are going to put their office in there,” Friel said. “It’s a nice property, and I think their use for it will be a good complement.”

He declined to provide additional information since the sale isn’t finalized.

According to a previous IL story, the building could need anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million in upgrades and renovations. The new owner also will have to figure out where its employees will park as the church doesn’t have a parking lot. —Caitlin Bowling

Highlands bar set to reopen soon

Diamond Station is reopening. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

Diamond Station, at 2280 Bardstown Road, will come back to life in the near future, according to its Facebook page.

“Too good to be true?…Not a chance — Diamond Station will be back open very soon. Stay tuned for further updates,” the Facebook post reads.

According to an advertisement for its liquor license application, Diamond Station is now owned by a guy named John Jarrett Packwood. IL reached out through Facebook to see when the neighborhood bar is expected to make its return and if anything about the concept will change, but the new owner said he wasn’t ready to talk just yet.

IL previously reported that owners Brian Brunderman and James Tyler planned to close the bar after accepting a buyout on their lease “from someone to use this space for a new and exciting concept.” —Caitlin Bowling

International planning conference coming to Louisville in 2019

Congress for the New Urbanism logo | Courtesy of Congress for the New Urbanism

The international planning conference Congress for the New Urbanism is headed to Louisville in two years.

More than 1,500 urban planners, architects and landscape architects, environmental consultants, engineers and real estate developers and others will come to Louisville in 2019 from all across the world, according to a news release from the city.

“Many of the country’s most innovative and creative urban experts will be in our city and they can witness the renaissance happening across our neighborhoods while contributing their talents to areas of our city needing more attention,” Mayor Greg Fischer said in the release.

During the event, attendees execute two to four Congress Legacy Projects that identify roadblocks, engage locals in planning and create place-making strategies that lead to a plan to enhance a corridor, section of a neighborhood, or address other land use challenges chosen by the city’s host committee.

Louisville’s host committee, which is responsible for helping organize the event, includes more than 100 public officials, community leaders, academics and representatives from the planning and urban design industries. —Caitlin Bowling

Construction underway on multimillion-dollar hotel

A rendering of what the hotel will look like | Courtesy of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government

Work has started on a dual hotel near EP “Tom” Sawyer Park.

Local developer Steve Poe is building a combination Townplace Suites and Fairfield Inn & Suites hotel on 26.7 acres at 10241 Champions Park Drive. The project will cost an estimated $23 million.

The 82,000-square-foot dual-branded hotel will have 157 rooms total and traditional amenities such as an indoor pool, a dining area and a fitness center. It will open sometime next year.

The development will sit near the Springhurst Towne Center, another retail center and two other hotels.

This is only the latest hotel project from Poe, who developed the Aloft Hotel downtown and is working on another dual-branded hotel as well as a Homewood Suites downtown. —Caitlin Bowling

Where Opportunity Knox graduates first class of leadership program

Where Opportunity Knox is graduating its first cohort of the new Senior Leaders Corporate Fellowship program, which embeds senior leaders from the military who are transitioning to civilian life in corporations for four days a week for four weeks. There they work on projects, shadow business leaders and experience the civilian workplace.

The fellows also had one day of classroom work a week during which they worked on resume writing, interviewing and other job hunting skills.

The first three fellows who will graduate on April 10 are LTC Tony Howard and CSM Michael Tucker who participated at GE Appliances, and SFC Joshua Lutz, who participated at Brown-Forman.

The next cohort has already been selected and will begin in April. There will be two more cohorts later in 2017. GE Appliances, Brown-Forman, Greater Louisville Inc., Louisville Metro Government and Trilogy Health Services will host the next cohort.

Where Opportunity Knox, which started in September 2014, is a regional initiative to connect
10,000 transitioning veterans and military spouses to jobs and careers by the end of 2017. —Melissa Chipman

‘The Louisville Knot’ art installation to connect East and West Louisville

Courtesy ISA

Branden Klayko at The Broken Sidewalk reports that a new art installation will be revealed this summer under the highway overpass on Main Street that marks the so-called Ninth Street divide.

Philadelphia-based Interface Studio Architects with Cambridge, Mass.–based Lam Partners and locals Shine Contracting, Core Design and Element Design have partnered to build the $150,000 design called “The Louisville Knot.”

The design team refers to it as “street furniture” and told Klayko that it will be “semi-permanent.” It’s a long, skinny tangle of tubes that “shape views, create portals, and provide seating.” It will be lit so it will be inviting at night. The installation will also utilize the “Happy Birthday parking lot” adjacent for food trucks, festivals and other gatherings.

ISA released a brainstorm of programming for the site:

—Melissa Chipman

Local fashion hub on Kickstarter for a maker space

At the Louisville Bespoke inaugural fashion show at the Speed, founder Yamilca Rodriguez announced a

Louisville Bespoke FB page

Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 for 22 sewing machines and other hardware for a planned fashion maker space.

In the Kickstarter video, the plan is endorsed by two-time Project Runway designer, Gunnar Deatherage; New Blak owner Amanda Dougherty and developer/film producer Gill Holland, among others.

Rodriguez still has not nailed down a location for the maker space, however.

Incentives include fashion classes, studio time and even a skirt designed by Rodriguez.

Speaking of Kickstarter, The New Blak’s Kickstarter surpassed the $5,000 goal to help open the new store in Oxmoor Mall. Look for the store to open later this month —Melissa Chipman

Acting Against Cancer nonprofit relocates to ArtSpace on Broadway

Acting Against Cancer’s new neighbors | Courtesy of AAC

Sometimes good things come from unfortunate circumstances. Such is the case with local nonprofit Acting Against Cancer, which had finally found a home in Distillery Commons, only to be told recently that the building was purchased and the organization had to vacate its 4,800-square-foot space.

But with the help of the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation and Fund for the Arts, AAC has itself some brand new digs in the ArtSpace building on Broadway. And not only is it closer to other arts organizations and venues, but the theater company now has 5,300 square feet of space to play with, including an already assembled black-box theater.

“We are so thrilled and beyond excited to be here at ArtSpace on Broadway — which means Acting Against Cancer has made it to Broadway!,” AAC’s artistic director Remy Sisk excitedly announced in a Facebook live video on Wednesday.

ArtSpace also is home to Kentucky Shakespeare, the Louisville Orchestra, Kentucky Opera and more.

“Building a theater has long been an eventual aspiration for Acting Against Cancer,” said Sisk in a press release. “We were on that track in our Distillery Commons space, but here at ArtSpace, the groundwork has already been put in place. We look so forward to making this a viable, intimate theater and adding to what is currently an unfortunate dearth of performance venues for smaller companies in Louisville.”

Up next for the company is “Heathers: The ’80s Party” on Saturday, April 15, at Play Dance Bar. —Sara Havens

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