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.

Louisville CVB books millions in events during two-year convention center closure

Being a partner with the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau provides access to the confidential convention calendar with information about upcoming conventions, meetings and tradeshows being held next month or 4 years down the road.

Conventions and trade shows draw thousands of tourists and their money to Louisville each year. | File Photo

Staff at the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau are working hard to keep their word to businesses that depend on tourism dollars, according to new numbers the organization released to Insider Louisville.

Karen Williams, the CVB’s president and CEO, has promised to mitigate the negative impact from the two-year closure of the Kentucky International Convention Center, which will undergo $207 million in renovations before reopening in mid-summer 2018. Most recently, IL reported that the CVB issued $148 million in bonds to pay for a major portion of the renovation.

Since January 2015, the CVB has booked events from August 2016 to August 2018 that are expected to have a total $163.9 million economic impact. That number is $30 million more than estimates released in July and does not include events booked prior to 2015 for those years.

In addition to relocating trade shows and conventions to other Louisville venues, staff has been trying to attract many smaller events that will keep a steady flow of tourists coming to Louisville.

The economic impact represents 234 events with an estimated 361,050 room nights and total show attendance of 906,533. Based on the CVB’s calculation, the organization expects each attendee to spend an average of $180.80.

The final economic impact number could easily continue to rise. The CVB has only reached 84 percent of its room nights goal for fiscal year 2017.

“We will close some of that gap,” Cleo Battle, executive vice president of the CVB, told IL last week. “We’ve still got some time to book some business into that year.” —Caitlin Bowling

Humana, Aetna post stock gains this month — unlike PharMerica and Kindred

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Humana and Aetna shareholders are recording solid gains this month after a terrible July. Meanwhile, two other health care related companies are suffering big losses — after posting solid gains last month.

Many other stocks of local importance this month have not deviated much from the performance of broader markets.

Through Thursday, shares of Humana this month have risen nearly 4 percent, to nearly $180. Aetna’s stock price has jumped 5 percent this month. Both companies posted solid gains early in the month after they said they had a plan to sell some assets that they believe would address federal antitrust regulators’ concern about their proposed merger.

Shares of the insurers had fallen more than 4 percent last month after it became clear that the regulators would sue to try to stop the merger.

Shares of PharMerica have fallen 20 percent this month. Declines came mostly after the pharmacy services provider reported that second-quarter net income rose nearly 9 percent compared to the first quarter of last year, but fell 39 percent compared to the first quarter.

Shares of hospital and nursing home operator Kindred Healthcare have swung wildly this month. After the Louisville-based company reported second-quarter earnings at the high end of projections, shares rose 7.5 percent on Aug. 5. Within four days, however, those gains were erased by a steady slide. The stock price declined on seven out of 10 trading days after Aug. 5. Shares on Thursday closed at $10.51, down 14 percent this month.

Ford Motor Co. shares this month are down nearly 3 percent. Investors fled from the automaker early in the month after it said July sales were down year-over-year and the second half of the year would prove challenging. —Boris Ladwig

Interior design company making its new home in Butchertown

Swope Design Group plans to build a new office building next to the existing "Garden House." | Courtesy of Jefferson County PVA

Swope Design Group plans to build a new office building next to the existing “Garden House” (pictured). | Courtesy of Jefferson County PVA

Swope Design Group — not to be confused with the local car sales company — is moving a little closer to downtown.

The interior design firm, currently located on Lexington Road near August Moon Chinese Bistro, plans to move to 813 E. Main St., according to a news release. The company’s co-owners Jennifer Dumesnil, Ann Swope and Brad Swope have an option to buy the property from Brad’s sister Susan Swope. Susan Swope is an entrepreneur in her own right and turned the historic church next door at 801 E. Market St. into an event venue.

“We’ve had a great stay here on Lexington Road the past 14 years and will dearly miss the Highlands,” Ann Swope said in the release. “We just felt a need to own our own building and to be a part of the dynamism and all that’s happening in the NuLu and Butchertown areas.”

Swope Design Group plans to construct “a visually distinctive, smartly designed, 2,136-square-foot office building” for its six employees on the property next to the existing “Garden House” building. Jeff Rawlins of Architectural Artisans designed the “Garden House” and will work on the new structure as well, the release notes.

Brad Swope told IL in an email that the total estimated cost of the project, including the property purchase, is between $700,000 and $800,000. They hope to break ground next month and move in next spring.

Realm Construction Co. will serve as the general contractor, and Republic Bank & Trust Co. is financing the project. —Caitlin Bowling

Long-planned $60 million shopping center finally coming to Fern Creek

The shopping center will rival The Paddock Shops and Springhurst Towne Center. | File Photo

The shopping center will rival The Paddock Shops and Springhurst Towne Center. | File Photo

Louisville-based developer Barrister Commercial Group can finally begin work on 363,000-square-foot shopping center called Southpointe Commons.

During the past several years, the company has been battling a zoning dispute in court, but Barrister Commercial Group announced on Thursday that the Kentucky Court of Appeals sided with them, a decision that will allow the company to finally erect the shopping center at the southeast corner of the intersection of the Gene Snyder Freeway and Bardstown Road.

The shopping center received the zoning approvals it needed in late 2013, but the court case delayed development. With the case resolved, Barrister Commercial Group plans to start infrastructure improvement in the fall and break ground early next year, Mike Brown, the company’s director of business development, told IL. The project is estimated to cost $60 million.

Louisville-based TRIO Commercial Property Group will handle leasing for the center. Some tenants are already lined up, but Brown declined to name any just yet — except for Panera Bread, that is.

“It’s been known for years that Panera Bread wants to be there,” he said.

While other developers might have backed away from the project after a lawsuit was filed, Brown said Barrister Commercial Group stuck with it because they saw a need for a large “retail lifestyle center.” For years, residents in and near Fern Creek have had to drive to The Paddock Shops or Springhurst Towne Center to shop.

“They are going to have those types of stores in Southpointe Commons, so they will no longer have to make that long journey over to the East End,” Brown said. “(The store offerings are) going to be pretty comprehensive.”

Work on the shopping center is expected to create 400 construction jobs, Brown told IL, and more than 560 permanent jobs at the retail stores, restaurants and other businesses that locate there. The project also is expected to generate an additional $6.5 million in state tax revenue each year.

As part of the project, Barrister Commercial Group also allocated $600,000 to remedy dangerous crossing conditions on Bardstown Road and make entering and exiting Bates Elementary School easier.  —Caitlin Bowling

Bridal gown shop Modern Trousseau opens in downtown Louisville

modernT-x650xThose looking to get hitched this year now have a new opportunity to find that perfect dress. Modern Trousseau — the national chain known for selling handmade, couture gowns — quietly opened up a Louisville location inside the Henry Clay Building on Chestnut earlier this month.

The Connecticut-based company is well known for offering modern, sophisticated and customized wedding dresses.

“We are so excited to bring our new and unique wedding gown shopping experience to beautiful Louisville, and we are thrilled to open our doors to Kentucky brides,” says Louisville flagship sales director Morgan Edwards in a press release. “It is an honor to join the growing wedding community in Louisville.”

The Henry Clay — a historic building that fittingly hosts wedding receptions on a regular basis — is located at 300 W. Chestnut St. —Sara Havens

Work on Mercy apartments green lighted

The layout for the Mercy apartments project | Courtesy of Edwards Cos.

The layout for the Mercy apartments project | Courtesy of Edwards Cos.

Shovels could hit the ground any day now on the new four-story, 195-unit apartment building at the former Mercy Academy property on East Broadway.

The city issued a building permit to Ohio developer Edwards Cos. for the project this week, which means work can begin whenever the company is ready. IL reached out to a representative to see when construction will start but did not hear back by publication time.

The former Mercy Academy school building came down months ago after plans for the development were approved, but Edwards Cos. was waiting for Louisville Metro Council to approve $2.6 million in tax breaks for the project, which it did last week.

Edwards also plans to build a four-story, 260-unit apartment complex at the corner of Baxter Avenue and East Broadway. Demolition work has not yet begun on that project.

Together, the two developments total an $80 million investment. —Caitlin Bowling

Home design, decor store opening second location

Vintage Style & Designs logoFive years in, Brandy Siemens’ small business off Taylorsville Road has continued to build, and she’s ready to take the next step — a second store.

“Things are moving well, and we are growing,” said Siemens, owner of Vintage Style and Designs, a home design and decor store.

Siemens looked for about a year before settling on a 2,300-square-foot space in a historic building located at 128 W. Main St in downtown New Albany that is more than double the size of her Taylorsville Road store.

“I’ve just had my heart set on a nice, quaint historic area,” she said, adding that she also wanted to locate in Southern Indiana to make it more convenient for customers on the opposite side of the river, particularly since the bridge tolls are going into effect toward the end of this year.

With the additional space, Vintage Style and Designs will add more vintage furniture to its collection and have a dedicated space for arts and crafts classes, which Seimens said customers have been “begging” for. The class will include how-to tutorials and make-and-take projects. She also has talked to local artisans about teaching classes at the shop.

In the New Albany building, Seimens will join two other female entrepreneurs — Seeds and Greens Natural Market and Deli owner Stacey Freibert and Eventful 203 owner Laurie Haag. Freibert also owns the property.

“I think we can feed off each other,” she said.

Seimens currently is hiring for part-time positions at the new store. Those interested can email [email protected]

Look for Vintage Style and Designs to open sometime this fall. —Caitlin Bowling