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.
Demolition beginning soon on convention center, causing road closures
The construction around the Kentucky International Convention Center is about to become more annoying.
The convention center closed in August and won’t reopen until the summer of 2018, after a $207 million renovation. Interior demolition already has started, but demolition on the exterior will start the week of Oct. 9, with construction workers removing canopies and some outer doors.
The work will result in temporary road closures downtown.
Starting at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, workers will begin to demolish the pedway that stretches across Market Street from Cowger Garage to the convention center: Market Street, between Third and Fourth streets, will be closed. Cowger Garage also will close Friday. Both the road and parking garage will reopen at 6 a.m. Monday, Oct. 10.
The following weekend, Jefferson Street, between Third and Fourth streets, will close as the section of the pedway connecting the convention center to the Hyatt Regency Louisville is torn down. Jefferson Street will close at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, and reopen at 6 a.m. Monday, Oct. 17.
New liquor superstore set to open next week
As Insider Louisville previously reported, the Maryland-based company is opening its first superstore in Kentucky. The store will feature more than 8,000 wines, 3,000 spirits, 2,500 beers, a growler-filling station, a temperature-controlled wine room, a cigar humidor, and a pick-up station for online orders.
“The customer base, the demographics are just terrific. (Louisville has) folks who love great distilled spirits. Also, they love phenomenal wines and craft beers,” Edward Cooper, vice president of public affairs and community relations at Total Wine & More, previously told IL. “We’ve done the research. We know there is great interest for a store like ours from customers there.”
Total Wine & More will host a grand opening on Oct. 6, featuring live music, free wine tastings and special giveaways to the first 100 people in line.
Louder Than Life could have another $13 million impact on the city
Rock ‘n’ roll is loud. But it’s also pretty profitable.
According to a recent economic impact study conducted by Destination Analysts, which was commissioned by the Greater Louisville Conventions & Visitors Bureau, last year’s Louder Than Life music festival generated nearly $13 million in economic impact for the Louisville area. More than 50,000 people attended the music, bourbon and “man food” festival, and of that number, two-thirds came from outside the city.
This year’s event — which is set to take over Champions Park on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1-2 — is on par with either matching or surpassing that number whether you’re a fan or foe. If you remember, numerous noise complaints were filed after the show by residents in the Clifton Heights neighborhood.
But back to the good news. The study also showed that the festival generated nearly 30,000 local hotel nights, and the average non-local attendee spent about $285 in Louisville, outside of the festival admission. Also, the 2015 festival employed 150 local bar staff, who collectively made $75,000 over the two-day weekend.
“Visiting Louisville for a festival or event is the No. 1 driver for tourism in the city,” said Karen Williams, president and CEO of the Visitors Bureau, in a press release. “Having an event with a such a strong following like Louder Than Life benefits Louisville both culturally and economically.”
The mayor agreed.
“With its bourbons, craft beers, local foods and live music, Louder Than Life is a great example of a tourism focus we call Bourbonism,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “It draws local people and visitors alike, and we’re thrilled to have it be a part of the fabric of our community.”
Senators say Aetna CEO failed to answer questions about health exchange withdrawal
Five U.S. senators have told Aetna’s CEO that he had failed to answer any of their questions related to the company’s withdrawal from the health exchanges. They also asked that he provide the answers by Sept. 30.
The senators, including Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had sent Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini a letter this month asking him to explain the company’s “inexplicable and irresponsible” withdrawal from the exchanges, which constitute a central part of the Affordable Care Act, also known informally as “Obamacare.”
While the five lawmakers said Aetna’s decision appeared to have been motivated by the lawsuit, Aetna said it is reducing its participation on the exchanges because it is losing more money than previously projected and that the letter ignored realities and was politically motivated.
“Your one-and-a-half page response that accused us of making ‘unfounded accusations’ failed to answer any of our actual questions,” the senators wrote Bertolini last week. “We are therefore writing to reiterate our concerns and renew our request for the information we requested.”
Aetna, based in Hartford, Conn., wants to buy Louisville-based rival Humana for $37 billion. The companies have said the merger would allow them to provide better health care at a lower cost to more people. However, the Department of Justice said the merger would reduce competition and harm consumers, and in July filed a lawsuit to block the deal. —Boris Ladwig
ProRehab opens California neighborhood office, adds two therapists
Louisville-based ProRehab Physical Therapy has increased its number of office and staff in September.
This week, the company announced it had added two hand therapists Mary Cecil, PT, CHT, and Toby Cross, MOT, OTR/L to its staff. Cecil will work out of ProRehab’s Highlands office, and Cross will be based out of its Middletown office.
Becoming a certified hand therapist requires a minimum of five years of clinical practice, including more than 4,000 contact hours in a designated hand therapy practice, and sitting for a national board certification. Cecil was certified in 1992, and Cross will be eligible to sit for the certification in November, the news release states.
Both Cecil and Cross can treat hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries, including fractures, traumatic tendon injuries, arthritis, tendonosis, burns, Dupuytren’s Contracture and nerve entrapment disorders.
On Sept. 14, ProRehab Physical Therapy also added a new location. The company opened its first office west of Ninth Street at 902 S. 15th St. in the California neighborhood.
Dr. Karen Stringer-Phillips, who specializes in orthopaedics, manual therapy and sports medicine, is leading the new office and is currently the only staff member based there, but clients who visit the California ProRehab have access to other specialists including the newly hired Cecil and Cross. —Caitlin Bowling
Taxi 7 tries to cut wait times with new cloud-based software
The software uses Google Maps for more precise pickup and drop-off locations, and will run on tablets in each cab. The company hopes the new technology will result in fewer trip cancellations, according to a news release.
Customers, who can hail a cab via Taxi 7’s mobile application or by calling (502) 777-7777, will now receive a text with a link to a real-time cab tracker. The software also reduces call times with interactive voice response technology and will allow those with corporate accounts to customize signature captures on ride receipts and how they’d like to see invoices.
“We’ve tested iCabbi technology with our fleets in Raleigh, N.C., and Washington, D.C., and are very impressed with its performance. It is now time to bring this technology to Louisville, where call volume continues to grow on a weekly basis,” Michael Solomon, president of Taxi 7, said in the release.
The Al J. Schneider Co. celebrates its 69th anniversary
Each year to honor its late founder Al J. Schneider, executives at The Al J. Schneider Co. and leaders at its properties, the Galt House Hotel, Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport Hotel and the Embassy Suites by Hilton Louisville Downtown, work a shift in different departments at the hotels.
Today marks the Louisville real estate investment and management company’s 69th year in business, according to a news release, and guests at one of the hotels may see the company’s executives working as housekeepers, bellhops, food servers or in other jobs. Meanwhile, associates at The Al J. Schneider Co.’s businesses will receive commemorative T-shirts and cake to celebrate.
“Founder’s Day is to honor a man that sparked the revitalization of Louisville’s Waterfront,” Scott Shoenberger, president and CEO of The Al J. Schneider Company, said in the release. “By working alongside the associates of the hotels, it is our goal to spark new ideas and lead the conversation with the transformation of the hotels and downtown Louisville.”
Six companies designated as ‘hot;’ six as ‘fast’
EnterpriseCorp — the entrepreneurial arm of Greater Louisville Inc. — added 12 companies to its Hot and Fast ranks this week. The awards honor early-stage companies that are innovators, along with fast-growth “gazelles.” The winners are:
- Beyond Zero Inc. – Manufactures machines to freeze liquor or wine into ice.
- FreshFry LLC – Provides the best oil quality and longest useful life.
- Mailhaven Inc. – Provides a way to track, manage and receive online packages.
- Stinger Equipment Inc. – Manufactures equipment for landscape professionals like the hydro-static wheelbarrow, the Go Barrow 9000.
- Switcher Studio – Is a video creation platform. The service includes access to the Switcher iOS video mixing app, cloud services, desktop tools and support.
- Virtual Peaker Inc. – Helps electric utilities manage residential loads using internet connected devices.
- Bourbon Barrel Foods LLC – Produces a collection of foods that embrace Kentucky’s bourbon country.
- Capture Higher Ed LLC – Uses big data and technology to attract, engage and recruit mission-fit students.
- Cuddle Clones LLC – Creates custom stuffed animals of pets and most recently, slippers made to look like people’s pets.
- Edumedics LLC – Is a population health management company that helps clients improve the health of their group, while reducing the cost of care.
- El Toro LLC – Brings the location-specific accuracy of direct mail to digital advertising.
- Rivera Group – Provides software development and IT solutions, including EAGLE6, its newest product, a predictive modeling tool.
“There are a significant number of local startup and fast-growth companies driving the Louisville economy forward, but these are the best of the best,” Galen Powers, chair of EnterpriseCorp’s advisory board said in a news release. —Mickey Meece