Welcome to the Jan. 16 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Investors more bullish on prospects of Aetna-Humana merger

Investors have become confident about the prospects of the proposed merger between Aetna and Humana.

A judge’s ruling on the federal government’s lawsuit to block the $37 billion deal is expected any day.

If the merger goes through, Humana shareholders would receive a premium, per share, of about $24. That’s down from more than $52 in mid-July. The narrowing of spread — the difference in value between Humana’s share price and Aetna’s offer — reflects growing investor confidence that the merger will occur.

The more investors believe the merger will happen, the more likely they are to buy Humana shares, because a successful merger today would present them with an immediate 11.5 percent gain on their investment. Humana’s shares on Friday were trading at around $204. The value of Aetna’s offer, $125 plus 0.8735 percent of an Aetna share, hovered around $228, or 11.5 percent higher than Humana’s share price.

In mid-July, when the U.S. Department of Justice announced it had filed a lawsuit to try to block the merger, the spread was above 30 percent, and Humana shareholders would have received a premium of more than $52 per share. A year ago, the spread was about 18 percent, with Humana shareholders looking at a premium of about $34 per share.

Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna has said that it wants to buy Louisville-based Humana because the companies together can offer better health care to more people at a lower price. The DOJ said that the merger would materially decrease competition in the health insurance industry and would increase health insurance prices, especially for seniors.

Humana employs about 12,000 in Louisville. —Boris Ladwig

Four Roses mural goes up on Main Street

There’s another reason to raise a toast on Whiskey Row — Four Roses Bourbon has commissioned a vintage-inspired mural at 118 E. Main St., paying homage to its history.

A new Four Roses mural goes up at Whiskey Row. | Courtesy of Four Roses

The site of the mural, which was painted by local artist Kirby Stafford, is now home to tech companies Indatus, Spoke and Voitress, but it once was home to Four Roses founder Paul Jones Jr. back in the day — you know, like 1884-1922.

“This was where our founder put his stake in the ground in Louisville,” said Al Young, Four Roses’ senior brand ambassador, in a press release.

The mural, which measures 21 feet tall by 28 feet wide, features a classic Four Roses bottle design from about 1900. And it only took Stafford a few days to complete. The bourbon company also is leasing space in the lobby of the building to display historic memorabilia. Cheers to that. —Sara Havens

GLI hiring for six positions to goose talent attraction goal

Greater Louisville Inc. is doubling down on its efforts to focus on talent attraction and is adding more positions in light of the more than $750,000 grant that its foundation received from the James Graham Brown Foundation last fall.

And, according to Alison Brotzge-Elder, communications director, the chamber has been deluged with applicants— more than 100 for some positions, 75 for an internship.

Currently, GLI has a staff of 33, and it hopes to add six employees by March.

“For the amount of work we’re taking on, we don’t have enough people,” Brotzge-Elder said in an interview.

Two of the positions are now closed for applications:  commercialization director for customer engagement and a communications intern. While the commercialization director would have a similar title to the position vacated by Amelia Gandara, her job was more tech-intensive and the new hire would be more customer-focused, Brotzge-Elder said.

She provided details on the open positions:

Administrative assistant with investor development: GLI is calling its members “investors” now, by the way. This person would need to be a killer scheduler.

Director of talent strategy and development: This position is funded by the grant and will oversee talent attraction strategies.

Internship: This paid intern would work directly with the events team.

Program and communications manager: This post is for the Health Enterprises Network and would be hands on with industries like insurance, wellness and the like. Melissa Chipman

State representative to address GLI members later this month

More from Greater Louisville Inc. — the chamber of commerce has invited Jeff Hoover, speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives, to speak to its members on Monday, Jan. 30.

Hoover will update attendees on priorities for the Kentucky General Assembly during this year’s short session and take business-related questions from the audience.

Hoover has represented residents in Clinton, Cumberland and Russell counties, as well as part of Pulaski County, since 1996. He was House Minority Leader from 2001 until 2016 when he was elected Speaker of the House by fellow state representatives.

Registration for the GLI event is $39 for member and $45 for nonmembers. The program, which includes lunch, runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at The Olmsted, 3701 Frankfort Ave. —Caitlin Bowling

Louisville Cream opening its first ice cream shop

Louisville Cream makes a mix of classic and unusual flavors. | File Photo

A local ice creamery known for its quirky flavors, such as avocado mole and brown sugar brie, plans to open it first ice cream shop.

Louisville Cream has only been available in at Old Town Wine & Spirits and Rainbow Blossom stores, events around town or through catering orders. But later this year, the business is moving into 632 E. Market St. in NuLu where it will operate an ice cream shop.

“The NuLu neighborhood was on our short list of places we’d like to have our first scoop shop,” Louisville Cream co-owner Darryl Goodner said in an email. “There are a ton of amazing restaurants on East Market, and we want to be a part of that with really great ice cream.”

Goodner’s co-owners are Zach Hardin and Lynette Ruby.

The Market Street building that Louisville Cream is moving into formerly housed catering operations for Bristol Bar & Grille. In 2015, the 8,128-square-foot building was purchased by local businessman Chad Givens. He had to stabilize the more than 120-year-old building after a wall in it became unsafe. At the time, Givens didn’t have a tenant lined up and was keeping his options open.

The wall is now stable, and the building is undergoing renovations, including adding a kitchen and production facility. Louisville Cream will eventually move out of its existing production facility at 1164 S. Brook St. in Old Louisville.

“The building is kind of an empty shell with no plumbing or electrical,” Goodner said in the email. “We’re able to design something that we think will be really cool from the ground up.”

He declined to say how much the renovations are expected to cost.

There is no firm open date, Goodner said, but they are shooting for sometime before Derby.  —Caitlin Bowling

21c Museum Hotels honored by Martha Stewart Living

21c gets love from Martha Stewart.

Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, the pair behind the Louisville-based 21c Museum Hotels, were hand-selected by Martha Stewart and her magazine’s editors as the 2016 American Made honorees. The recognition celebrates people around the country who have turned their passions for hand-crafted goods into a viable small business.

21 is one of 10 companies chosen for the honor, and there’s a nice write-up in the January/February issue of the magazine, which is out now.

“Opening 10 years ago was a major risk. A lot has changed since then, but through the success of 21c Museum Hotels and the development, we’ve remained steadfast in our strong and shared belief in the power that art has to transform a community,” said Brown in a press release. “The company has demonstrated what Steve and I always thought possible — that art and commerce can coexist in harmony.”

Brown and Wilson attended the Martha Steward American Made Summit in October. There are now six 21c Hotels around the country, with more to come. —Sara Havens

LIBA hires part-time advocate for South and West Louisville initiative

Charles Booker

Louisville Independent Business Alliance’s “Keep South Louisville Weird” initiative just hired a part-time advocate, Charles Booker. He worked for the nonprofit Seed Capital in its effort to bring the FoodPort to West Louisville and as a member of Mayor Greg Fischer’s innovation delivery team. Booker is a resident of West Louisville, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.

According to a news release, “Booker currently manages development efforts for Cities United, a national organization focused on empowering mayors and cities to holistically address violence and build pathways of opportunity for African-American men and boys.”

“It is a privilege to join a proven organization that inspires a thriving local economy in our city,” Booker said in the release. “Considering the renewed focus and energy west of 9th Street and the resurgence in South Louisville, I look forward to helping business owners and budding entrepreneurs realize their fullest potential.”

LIBA promotes local businesses and educates Kentuckiana consumers about the benefits of buying local.

The next committee meetings for these two neighborhoods are on Wednesday, Feb. 8, for South Louisville (9:30 a.m. at Republic Bank, 5125 New Cut Road) and West Louisville (2 p.m. at Chef Space, 1812 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd). RSVP to [email protected] —Melissa Chipman

Leadership Louisville’s Ignite Louisville opens spring and fall classes to applications

Leadership Louisville is looking to train “next generation leaders.” It doesn’t matter if you’re a millennial or Gen-X, Vice President Holly Prather said it had “more to do with where people are in their careers than with age.”

Leadership Louisville’s Ignite Louisville programs for 2017 are accepting applications. Ignite is a seven-month professional development program that fosters skills needed to develop leadership potential. As part of the program, the participants engage in the Yum! IGNITES Louisville Challenge and works with a nonprofit agency to help solve problems and create new initiatives for them.

Not sure if it’s for you? There is an information session on Tuesday, Jan. 31, from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.

Ignites is more than about leadership development, it’s a networking opportunity and a chance to learn from some of Louisville’s most prominent business leaders.

The program is offered two times annually, from April-October and October-April.  Both programs include a two-day opening retreat followed by one full day per month for six months.

The tuition is $3,800 and includes overnight retreat lodging, meals and materials. Some scholarships are available. —Melissa Chipman

Taco Bell introducing a new kind of taco shell

The Naked Chicken Chalupa will debut on Jan. 28. | Courtesy of Taco Bell

Taco Bell has apparently taken President-elect Donald J. Trump’s call to “Make America Great Again” to heart.

The Yum Brands subsidiary will premiere the Naked Chicken Chalupa. The chalupa is filled with fresh shredded lettuce, diced ripe tomatoes, cheddar cheese and creamy avocado ranch, but here’s where it gets interesting — the shell is made of all-white-meat, antibiotic-free chicken that is marinated and seasoned with Mexican spices.

Looks like Taco Bell is taking some tips from its sister company KFC and finding unique ways to repurpose chicken.

The new menu item has been in testing in Bakersfield, Calif., and Kansas City, Mo., but will go nationwide on Jan. 26, according to Taco Bell.

“Something this delicious yet different is bound to ruffle some feathers; some might even cluck their tongues at it,” Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell’s chief marketing officer, said in a news release. “However, we feel confident that once our fans get a taste of the Naked Chicken Chalupa they are going to understand exactly why this is our next big, fun and craveable innovation.” —Caitlin Bowling


Startup with local ties garners national attention

Startup Rubicon Global got some love from Forbes last week.

Rubicon Global runs a software program that connects garbage pick-up operations, mostly small businesses, to customers. Forbes called it “the Uber of trash.”

The company got its start in Louisville, Ky., where owners Nate Morris and Marc Spiegel grew up, but it moved its headquarters to Atlanta, after the city agreed to hire Rubicon for its municipal garbage needs.

Rubicon now works with 5,000 small businesses, and its revenue has tripled to more than $300 million in the past year, according to Forbes. The company has brought in millions in outside investment and hopes to compete one day with garbage giants Waste Management and Republic Services. —Caitlin Bowling

Dance Party: ‘No Boys. No Booze. No Judgment. (Legwarmers Optional)’

When you see an event with the tagline “No Boys. No Booze. No Judgment. (Legwarmers Optional),” you basically have to go out and get you some legwarmers, right?

A couple of weeks ago Insider told you about the Wake and Shake morning dance party at Block Party on South Fourth St. — a boozeless, prework workout and social event.

Turns out there is another freeform dance club alternative that was founded in New York City. Every Sunday night at 7 p.m. the women-only Dance Dance Party Party kicks off at Shine in the Clifton Center. It’s an hour of no choreography, no inhibitions, set to disco lights.

DDPP was founded by NYC friends Glennis McMurray and Marcy Girt in 2006 and is in around a dozen cities in the United States right now.

Don’t like crowds, drunken passes, trendy clothes and trying to catch your groove in heels? They don’t even allow shoes, let alone heels.

Attendees can sign up to guest DJ by creating a custom playlist.  The first time is free and every time after that it’s $5. —Melissa Chipman