Welcome to the Feb. 13 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Arena Authority approves underwriters for potential refinance

The original debt on the KFC Yum! Center totaled $839 million. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

The Louisville Arena Authority Friday approved a list of underwriters to help the authority move through a potential refinancing of the KFC Yum! Center’s outstanding debt.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the main underwriter and Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. is a co-senior manager, according to the arena authority.

Other underwriters include Cabrera Capital Markets, Citibank, Drexel Hamilton, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, PNC Financial Services Group, Raymond James Financial, Royal Bank of Canada, Stifel Nicolaus and Wells Fargo.

All were selected following the arena authority’s open request for underwriting qualifications. The authority received 22 responses.

“The senior managers were selected based on their experience and understanding of complex financial structures for arena-type financings, proven underwriting and distribution strength and commitment to the Louisville Arena Authority,” according to a news release from the authority. “The co-managers were selected primarily for their ability to access distinct markets with an emphasis on retail distribution in Kentucky.”

Louisville Arena Authority Chairman Scott C. Cox said in the release that the arena authority hopes to restructure its outstanding bond debt, but that is not guaranteed.

“We hope that once the Louisville Arena Authority strengthens its partnership and financial agreements with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, City of Louisville and the University of Louisville, we will be in a position to take advantage of the current low-interest rate environment and refund our existing bonds,” he said in the release.

The arena has about $350 million in outstanding debt and the bonds, with various maturities, carry rates that range from 5.75 percent to 8.25 percent.

The arena authority has come under scrutiny recently. Last October, state legislators asked Auditor Mike Harmon to examine the Louisville Arena Authority’s finances following questions about whether the arena authority would default on its debt payments. —Caitlin Bowling

Michter’s 10-Year Rye marks first special release by master distiller Pam Heilmann

Pam Heilmann with her new release | Courtesy of Michter’s

A few months ago, Insider caught up with Michter’s new master distiller Pam Heilmann as she stepped into the shoes left by bourbon legend Willie Pratt, who retired in the fall.

She had learned an enormous amount from Pratt and her more than a decade of experience working at Jim Beam — and she was poised and ready to take on the role.

Just last week, Heilmann approved the first release of 2017, the highly sought-after Michter’s 10-Year Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Rye whiskey. It should be on shelves by March.

“It’s fitting that the first release I OK’d as Michter’s master distiller would be a rye, because Michter’s roots are deeply embedded in rye whiskey,” said Heilmann in the press release. “I am determined to only release something when it is just right, and I think this Michter’s 10-Year Rye is absolutely outstanding.”

The suggested retail price for the bottle is $150. —Sara Havens

Forecastle Foundation raises $99,000 in 2016

The Forecastle Foundation— the charity arm of the Forecastle Festival— reports that it raised $99,000 in 2016 to support conservation projects both global and local. Supported projects include partnerships with Kentucky Natural Lands Trust, The Nature Conservancy, The Guayaki Foundation and Friends for Conservation and Development.

Kentucky Natural Lands Trust works to preserve the Pine Valley Wildlife Corridor, which contains some of the last old-growth forests in the state and is in the migratory path of hundreds of species.

Forecastle supports The Nature Conservancy’s active projects on Kentucky’s Green River, a globally important freshwater resource, Pine Mountain and the Pacific Ocean’s Coral Triangle, containing important reefs and vast oceanic diversity.

The Guayaki Foundation works with indigenous people in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay to help them preserve the Atlantic Rainforest.

The Friends for Conservation and Development works in Belize to protect and better manage the Chiquibul-Maya Mountains.

The foundation raises money through corporate sponsorship and events. One dollar of every ticket sold for the Forecastle Festival is given to the Foundation.

According to a news release, “Since 2010, the Forecastle Foundation has helped protect and preserve more than 136,000 acres of land and waterways, with contributions cumulatively totaling more than $250,000.” —Melissa Chipman

A rendering of Gravely Brewing, slated to open in Phoenix Hill later this year.

Gravely Brewing reveals exterior rendering

Gravely Brewing Co. has shared the first rendering of the brewery’s exterior with Insider Louisville.

The brewery, which owners Nathaniel Gravely and Cory Buenning hope to open by May, is being designed by Louisville-based WorK Architecture + Design. The nearly 12,000-square-foot brewery will also serve as a music venue, featuring local and touring bands.

“I’ve always described Louisville as a city where the North meets the South and Gravely Brewing Co. as a place where the beer meets the music – and you’re going to feel that inside and out at our building,” Gravely said. “In less than 60 seconds after walking in, you’ll feel the blue-collar, no-frills, modern industrial Midwest meets the warm, hospitable, and textured South, all progressively blended together by the color and attitude of music.”

As reported previously, the space at 514 Baxter Ave. is the former home of Pride Tile Company and is on part of the space that was occupied by Phoenix Brewery in the late 1800s and early 1900s; work has already begun to essentially gut the interior and redesign it for the brewery and music hall. Gravely had previously sought to open a music venue in Louisville in 2009, but had looked at other markets before deciding Louisville was the right environment for a music-and-beer venue.

“At the end of the day,” Gravely music, “music and beer are really on the same team.” —Kevin Gibson

Papa John loves the leopards at the Louisville Zoo

Little penguins at the Louisville Zoo | Photos by Louisville Zoo

The Louisville Zoo exceeded its recent fundraising goals thanks in part to a generous $1 million donation from the John H. Schnatter Family Foundation. The goal was $10.4 million and the zoo raised $11.44 million for exhibits and improvements.

The zoo also announced that it will be creating John H. Schnatter Family Foundation Plaza at Leopard Leap, a gathering area at the entrance of a new snow leopard exhibit.

“On behalf of The John H. Schnatter Family Foundation, Annette and I are honored to be a part of the Leadership Capital Campaign reaching its goal,” said John Schnatter in a news release. He runs the Foundation with his wife, Annette. “The Louisville Zoo is a special place for our family and many other families in this community. Our hope is that this gift will ensure the Louisville Zoo is here for future generations to learn from and enjoy.”

During this same campaign, the zoo also added the Harry Frazier Family Elephant Encounter, a $3 million exhibit that was made possible by a $2 million donation from the family of the late Harry Frazier.

Last year, the zoo announced long-term goals for a $180 million expansion which will include shark tanks, an alligator enclosure, an African savannah park and an animal hospital. Melissa Chipman

International culinary conference coming to Louisville

Roughly 500 foodies, chefs and food writers from around the world will be sampling the best of Louisville March 3-5.

The International Association of Culinary Professionals, or IACP, is hosting its annual conference here at the Louisville Marriott Downtown. This is the first time the event has been held in Louisville; last year, the conference was in Los Angeles.

“A huge part of the value of an IACP conference is being able to discover cool culinary scenes and immerse ourselves in the food culture of another region, so we always look for a city with those attributes,” IACP conference CEO Martha Holmberg said in a news release. “Louisville delivers that and more.”

The conference includes immersive workshops, food tours and educational sessions with guests such as The New York Times food editor Sam Sifton and cookbook author Dorie Greenspan.

Copper & Kings American Brandy Co., Vendome Copper & Brass Works, GE Appliances’ FirstBuild, Louismill, Harvest and Red Hog are among the local businesses that will participate in the IACP conference. Chef Edward Lee also will be part of a talk about Southern cuisine.

While the conference is only open to culinary professionals, the event concludes with the International Cookbook Awards, which is open to the public. The awards start at 6:30 p.m. with a welcome cocktail, followed by the awards and a “Hot Brown Smack Down” competition. Carla Hall, of ABC’s show “The Chew,” will host.

The International Cookbook Awards will be at The Louisville Palace. Tickets are $50. —Caitlin Bowling

Two-faced teddys from owners of Happy Feet

Benjamin the bear turns into Zachary zombie. Those are the actual names. | Photo by Flipemz

There’s a unique new plush toy line being offered by Shark Effect Marketing in Prospect, the parent company of the Happy Feet plush slipper line. Flipemz are 14-inch tall stuffed animals whose heads flip around so you have two characters in one body.

There are 10 different characters in all (20, I guess, if you count all the heads). A bear that turns into a zombie bear. A polar bear that turns into a snowman. A kitty that turns into a princess kitty… and so on.

The toys cost $25.

Happy Feet’s owner, Pat Yates, appeared on the TV show “Shark Tank” in 2014. He came out of the show with a $325,000 investment for 25 percent equity from Robert Herjavec. —Melissa Chipman

Gallup: Affordable Care Act helps Kentucky more than any other state

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Kentucky has seen a greater decline than any other state in it share of adults without health insurance, according to a new analysis by Gallup.

From 2013 to 2016, the share of adult Kentuckians without insurance fell from 20.4 percent to 7.8 percent, down 12.6 percentage points, the research company said. Arkansas ranked second, with a decline of 12.3 percent. West Virginia ranked third, with 11.5 percent.

Gallup based the analysis on daily surveys it conducted throughout both years. “Sample sizes ranged from 465 randomly selected residents in Delaware to more than 12,000 in California,” Gallup said.

The company’s findings reinforce other organization’s contention that Kentucky would be particularly hard hit by a repeal of the ACA, also known as Obamacare. As IL reported last month, health care experts predict that an ACA repeal could take away health insurance from more than 100,000 Louisvillians.

The Congressional Budget Office, which provides the U.S. Congress with nonpartisan analyses for economic and budget decisions, said that an ACA repeal would increase the number of people without health insurance nationwide by 32 million by 2026.

While President Donald J. Trump and Republican leaders in Congress have begun working on a repeal, they’ve said they plan to replace the law with something better, though they have released few details, and Trump said recently that an appeal “might drag into next year,” according to The Atlantic.

Nationwide, the share of adults without insurance has fallen from 17.3 percent in 2013 to 10.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to Gallup.

Kansas saw the smallest decline, at 0.2 percentage points, and its share of adults without insurance is 12.3. Kansas officials declined to expand Medicaid. In Kentucky, the Medicaid expansion alone provided 400,000 additional commonwealth residents with health insurance.

Texas is the state with the highest share of adults without insurance, at 20.5 percent. Twenty other states have shares above 10 percent. Hawaii and Massachusetts have the lowest share of adults without health insurance, at 3.2 percent. Boris Ladwig

Consumers to spend less on Valentine’s Day; UPS to deliver 89 million flowers

UPS said it will ship enough flowers for Valentine’s Day this year to fill 64 Boeing cargo aircraft. | Courtesy of UPS.

Logistics giant UPS said it would deliver more than 89 million flowers this Valentine’s Day, enough to fill 64 767 Boeing cargo aircraft.

“We’re adding 34 temperature-controlled flights to deliver the 236,000 boxes of blooms expected to flow through our network in the two weeks prior to Valentine’s Day,” said Domingo Mendez, Air Cargo marketing manager for UPS Americas Region.

Many of the flowers come from Latin America, primarily Colombia and Ecuador, with more than 90 percent of those traveling through Miami International Airport.

“The flowers stay fresh in a refrigerated warehouse about the size of five basketball courts located in the UPS Air Cargo facility in Miami, where they are inspected and sorted for travel to their final destinations,” UPS said.

Though it’s going to be a busy day for UPS, including its WorldPort in Louisville, consumer spending is projected to be down this Valentine’s Day compared to last year.

The National Retail Federation projects that Americans will spend $18.2 billion on gifts this year, down from the record $19.7 billion last year. This year’s spending will be the second-lowest in the last five years, according to NRF data.

The organization said consumers will spend $4.3 billion on jewelry, $3.8 billion on an evening out and $2 billion on flowers.

Americans will spend an average $136.57 this year, the NRF said, down from $146.84 last year.

“Valentine’s Day continues to be a popular gift-giving occasion even if consumers are being more frugal this year,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.

If you want your Valentine’s Day gifts to arrive on time, UPS warned that you have to ship them no later than Monday. Boris Ladwig

Leadership Louisville has raised $2.2 million toward $3 million goal for new center

Last week, Leadership Louisville announced that it had reached around 73 percent of the funds needed for its new center on Main St. and took its major donors on a tour of the 10,000-square-foot space.

The first floor will be community space and a large classroom. Upstairs will have a gathering area including a cafe overlooking the river and conference and office space. Leadership Louisville will partner with KMAC on returning a vacant lot rife with poison ivy behind the building into usable green space.

“We really want our alumni to come down here… and use this a place as a home away from home,” President Cynthia Knapek said in a video.

Interested donors are invited to a “graffiti party” at the space on March 15. Donors will be allowed to “leave their mark” on an exposed wall on the second floor. Donations must be in by March 10. There will also be cocktails in the penthouse of the Harbison.Melissa Chipman

Major donors include:

  • James Graham Brown Foundation
  • Ed Glasscock*
  • Sandra Frazier*
  • Lift a Life Foundation
  • Humana Foundation
  • Lindy and Bill Street
  • LG&E and KU Foundation
  • Ina Brown Bond
  • Gheens Foundation
  • Norton Healthcare
  • D.D. Williamson & Co Inc.

*Insider Louisville investors