Welcome to a new, occasional roundup of news in and around Louisville.

GLI weighs in on proposed McConnell legislation

Greater Louisville Inc. noted after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed legislation to raise the minimum age for buying smoking products to 21 that it had been a top GLI Advocacy priority.

GLI said on Twitter, “A healthy workforce is important to a strong economy,” adding that McConnell’s proposal “will help promote wellness and reduce health care costs to Kentucky employers.” The tweet linked to the CDC Foundation chart below, showing the cost to employers. —Mickey Meece

CDC Foundation

Ford unveils 2020 Lincoln Corsair, a new luxury SUV

2020 Lincoln Corsair. | Courtesy of Lincoln

Ford Motor Co. has unveiled the all-new Lincoln Corsair SUV, which replaces the MKC and, like its predecessor, will be built at Louisville Assembly Plant.

The Corsair is similar to the Escape, which also is built at LAP, but will cost about $10,000 more and likely will be a niche product. Ford last year sold 26,241 MKCs, or about as many as it sells Escapes in a good month.

Ford told Insider that the launch of the new Corsair, the name of which is inspired by not by piracy but by the Latin word “cursus,” meaning journey, will have no impact on employment at the local plant.

The Corsair exemplifies Ford’s move away from cars to bigger, more luxurious and more expensive SUVs, which also provide for a greater profit margin. According to Reuters, Ford said its production shift from cars to trucks at just one plant — the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich. — will boost the company’s 2021 operating earnings by $1 billion over 2017. —Boris Ladwig

House of Ruth fears potential cuts to health department

Count House of Ruth Executive Director Lisa Sutton among those concerned about potential cuts to staff and services at the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.

As a result of a city budget crunch brought on by rising pension obligations, the city is trying to find ways to save money. Some cuts to the health department could include reducing HIV staffing, limiting syringe exchange hours and closing a clinic where people  get tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

Sutton said such services are “critical,” not only to people infected with HIV but also “to the entire community,” especially when it comes to early detection of the virus and stopping its spread.

“The health department being who they are and what they do, people are likely to look to them first if they need an HIV test or if they need syringe exchange services, so they’re an obvious first stop,” Sutton said. “Without them, my fear is people will not … look further.”

Along with being concerned about the health department, the House of Ruth has worries of its own. The nonprofit organization, which provides low-income housing and supportive services for people who are HIV positive and their families, receives $25,000 annually in external agency funding from the city, but that might not continue.

“We don’t want to lose half of a staff person and that’s what that would represent is half of a social worker,” Sutton said. “So we’re going to do what we have to do to go find it elsewhere.” —Darla Carter

Mother’s Room opens in SDF, plus a look at future enhancements

This week, the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) opened the Mother’s Room on Concourse A, featuring a private lactation area as well as changing stations. The enhancement was a result of traveler feedback, officials said.

Meanwhile, the Louisville Regional Airport Authority released renderings of future enhancements to SDF. The Minneapolis-based architect Alliiance presented the concepts to the board recently to provide an update on a $100-plus million terminal project. Natalie Ciresi Chaudoin, a spokeswoman, said to expect upgrades to restrooms, moving sidewalks, elevators and escalators, plus relocation of the rental cars to the garage area and more.

“We are very early in the process of assessing and planning for these improvements and the timelines are fluid at this point,” she told Insider.  Conceptual renderings from Alliiance below. —Mickey Meece

Venture Sharks finalists announced

Venture Connectors has selected four startups to compete in the final round of its 10th annual Venture Sharks competition, in which the entrepreneurs compete before a panel of investors for a $5,000 cash prize and mentoring services to help take their products to market.

The competition is in the style of the television show “Shark Tank.” This year’s finalists are Gluconfidence, a source of fast-acting, concentrated glucose for people with diabetes; Pascal Tags LLC, a passive inventory tag allowing for identification without a chip or battery; Prodigy Biosciences, a tableside food testing device that will specifically detect traces of peanuts in food samples; and The Read Read, a device that allows children and adults with visual impairments and blindness to independently learn and practice phonics and braille.

The competition will be held May 1 at the Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth St. —Kevin Gibson

Sullivan again named one of best culinary schools in U.S.

G. Allen Akmon

Sullivan University has been named one of the top culinary schools in the United States by University Magazine. The Louisville school was ranked 10th on the list, which was compiled using U.S. Department of Education data. Sullivan is home to the College of Hospitality Studies, which also was recognized in 2014 as a top culinary school by Full Service Restaurant Magazine.

“Although it offers numerous programs in other fields of study, Sullivan is probably best known for its culinary school,” University Magazine wrote. “The programs at Sullivan are committed to ensuring career-readiness, with options to focus on becoming a chef, a baker, or working in management.”

“Outsiders constantly praise the camaraderie of our faculty, and to me that is a major advantage that we have over most other schools,” said Sullivan Director of Culinary Arts Chef G. Allen Akmon, adding he is “amazed at the level of talent, passion and experience of the Chefs that have come together under one roof here in Louisville, Kentucky.”

Sullivan also has been chosen as a top culinary university in recent years by The Daily Meal, College Rank, Niche.com and PremiumSchools.org.—Kevin Gibson

In Brief

L&N Federal Credit Union is committing $2 million to the University of Louisville Athletics, officials said Thursday, adding the gift will go toward the Cardinals’ “Next Step Fund” for future improvements with UofL’s student-athlete experience and capital projects.