The Closing Bell: sweet signing bonuses for nurses; remodeled home tour is this weekend; MailHaven in new startup accelerator; and more

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.

Want a $24,000 signing bonus? How about a Ford Mustang?

The nursing shortage is providing experienced and even novice nurses in Kentucky with some nice incentives, ranging from thousands of dollars in cash to a down payment on a house and even a car.

Tiffany Hibbs, who recruits employees for more than 19 hospitals and other facilities for KentuckyOne Health, said finding nurses was “getting very much more difficult.”

The nation will need to fill an additional 493,000 nursing positions by 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, driven in part by the projected health care needs of the baby boom generation. That excludes the number of nurses who will be needed to replace those who retire or leave the profession during that span.

Tiffany Hibbs

KentuckyOne is offering nurses up to $24,000 toward their college debt in exchange for a four-year work commitment, or a $6,000 signing bonus for a two-year work commitment, Hibbs said.

The shortage can even provide bonuses for current employees: Hibbs said KentuckyOne paid existing employees a $5,000 bonus if they could help the organization hire a nurse with at least two years of experience. The health system used to offer up to $6,000 toward the down payment of a house.

More rural areas are struggling even more to recruit and retain nurses, because nurses are needed almost everywhere, which means nurses can move just about anywhere they want.

Pikeville Medical Center, in eastern Kentucky, last week awarded a brand new Ford Mustang convertible to a registered nurse in the intensive care unit. All registered nurses had been entered in the drawing.

Kevin McIver, the center’s director of public relations, said that the car giveaway and other bonuses, including a $25,000 retention bonus, moving expenses and free housing had allowed PMC to recruit more than 300 nurses in the past year. The organization employs more than 700 registered nurses.

The car giveaway was the brainchild of CEO Walter May, who has an advertising background and thought the promotion would generate some attention, McIver said. It certainly helped when PMC officials went on recruiting trips, he said.

More good news for nurses: The BLS said nurses also could expect to see faster wage growth through 2024 than all other occupations, at an annual rate of 4.8 percent. —Boris Ladwig

Tour of Remodeled Homes is this weekend

The Tour of Remodeled Homes shows homeowners how they can upgrade their existing houses. | Courtesy of Building Industry Association of Greater Louisville

Homearama gives people a glimpse of dream homes, while the Tour of Remodeled Homes shows people what they may actually be able to do with their existing homes.

The Building Industry Association of Greater Louisville’s 2017 Tour of Remodeled Homes is set for Aug. 12-13. From noon to 6 p.m. those two days, 11 remodeled homes will be open to the public. The addresses of the homes are listed on the tour’s website.

The houses on display range in styles from French country to contemporary, according to a news release. One house is about 100 years old.

“It will be fun to show off the drastic ‘before and after’ of this house,” said Penny Love, owner of Design Innovations, who renovated the older home. “I’m looking forward to (visitors) seeing how the remodel gave it a completely new character that still maintains the integrity of a house that has its own history. The Tour will be a great way to show many possibilities to someone who’s in a quandary of what they can do with an old house.”

Tickets are $10 for access to all 11 homes; children 6 and under can enter free of charge. Tickets may be purchased at any of the homes. —Caitlin Bowling

MailHaven lands a spot at another prestigious startup accelerator

Kela Ivonye | Photo courtesy of Kela Ivonye

Louisville-based startup MailHaven has been accepted into the prestigious 500 Startups accelerator program in the Bay Area. The 22nd cohort of the accelerator consists of 36 companies from all over the world. MailHaven is the first company from Kentucky to be funded by the organization.

CEO Kela Ivonye touched base with Insider just a few days before he left for the four-month program. He had just returned from San Francisco where he’d pitched on the “This Week in Startups” podcast and got the news that his company had been accepted by 500 Startups. He was home for maybe 10 days.

MailHaven is both a software and a hardware company. The app digitally tracks packages across couriers. The hardware is a connected mailbox that protects packages and communicates with the user.

Ivonye told Insider that he’ll be releasing the app next month and that the company has had around 200 users in beta testing.

His company is currently looking for a neighborhood to beta test 30-40 smart mailboxes.

Full rollout, Ivonye hopes, will happen before Black Friday, when the traditional crazy holiday online shopping begins.

With retailers like Walmart upping their online efforts and lowering their shipping charges, Ivonye is very optimistic about his business model. Likewise, food delivery services such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are contributing to the shipping pool.

Ivonye emailed IL after the first week of the program. He wrote: “It’s been pretty good, we hit the ground running immediately and had a week called ‘Marketing Hell Week.’ It’s five days focused on growth and marketing, where they have experts and specialists come speak/teach us growth processes and strategy. Great learning and validation experience. We had about 25 lectures that week.”

MailHaven has been on a roll by any standards for startups, especially one with a hardware component. This summer, Ivonye wrapped up a stint at the prestigious hardware accelerator Highway 1. The company was also part of the Vogt Awards program last year. —Melissa Chipman

Louisville featured in national children’s book ’50 Cities of the U.S.A.’

We’ve made it. | Courtesy of Quarto Children’s Group

From an outsider’s perspective — the outsider being a child — what do you think makes Louisville a cool city? Well, we can’t really mention bourbon, so how about the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival and birthplace of Jennifer Lawrence and the ladies who wrote “Happy Birthday”?

Those are some of the highlights of the Louisville section of “50 Cities of the U.S.A.,” a recently released children’s book written by Gabrielle Balkan, illustrated by Sol Linero and published by the Quarto Children’s Group. The book covers the country’s most interesting and fun cities in an A-Z approach for children 7 and up.

Other cities deemed worthy by the publishers include Baltimore, Cleveland, Nashville, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

The Louisville section also features itinerary suggestions for potential visitors, and some of those include posing in front of the Louisville Slugger Museum bat, trying out your skateboard skills at the Extreme Park, and eating a Hot Brown, of course. The book retails for $30. —Sara Havens

ALDI reopening Jeffersonville store following major renovation

The new ALDI’s have robust produce, dairy and bakery sections. | Courtesy of ALDI

ALDI is halfway through the renovation of its Louisville area stores.

On Aug. 17, the company will reopen its Jeffersonville, Ind., store, at 3131 E. 10th St. — the third to complete a full renovation. ALDI will celebrate with a Gold Ticket giveaway with prizes for the first 100 customers and a Produce for a Year sweepstakes.

The store is part of a more than $9 million investment to remodel six stores in Louisville and Southern Indiana by 2019. Changes include larger produce, diary and bakery sections, a modern design, open ceilings, natural light and environmentally friendly building materials.

ALDI is investing a total of $1.6 billion to renovate and expand its more than 1,300 stores across the country by 2020. —Caitlin Bowling

Nashville snags a nonstop intercontinental flight

A British Airways A380 on final approach into London Heathrow. | Photo by Nick Morrish

As if Louisville leaders weren’t already comparing Louisville to the Music City most days anyway, there’s another benchmark by which to compare the two.

One city has a nonstop intercontinental flight and the other doesn’t. British Airways announced earlier this week that it would offer nonstop flights from Nashville to London’s Heathrow Airport starting May 4. The flight will be offered five times a week.

The city and state have pledged up to $2 million in incentives to attract the flight and are hoping it will lead to more nonstop international flights, particularly one to Tokyo, according to a Nashville Public Radio report.

Nashville had nonstop flights to London back in the mid-1990s through American Airlines, but service was discontinued, the station said.

As Insider previously reported, a coalition of business, civic and government leaders have joined forces recently to attract an airline or airlines that will offer nonstop flights to Los Angeles and Boston. —Caitlin Bowling

In light of Hollis Bulleit controversy, Silver Dollar/The Pearl owner donates to Louisville Youth Group

Both the Silver Dollar and The Pearl back Louisville Youth Group.

Last week in this very space, IL told you about the recent controversy between Bulleit brand ambassador (and daughter of founder Tom Bulleit) Hollis Bulleit and parent company Diageo. Hollis claims she was let go because she is a lesbian, and Diageo contends it was a matter of failed contract negotiations.

Regardless of when or if the dust settles and the truth comes to light, it rubbed some in the local industry the wrong way.

Haymarket Whiskey Bar owner Matthew Landan took to Facebook to defend Hollis, sharing her post and saying: “All that is evil, impersonal and dirty about the business is laid bare right here. It’s a rotten affair Bulleit and it’s gonna hurt your brand.” His comments ended up in a article.

But now, Larry Rice, co-owner of Silver Dollar and The Pearl, has decided to donate 10 percent of sales from Diageo products during August to the Louisville Youth Group, a nonprofit that supports children and young adults in the LGBTQ community.

He writes in a Facebook post:

The recent news about Hollis Bulleit’s departure from Diageo and Bulleit bourbon has raised a lot of questions. Something I know to be true and is without question is the damage caused to an individual who feels unaccepted by their loved ones. If intentional or unintentional, this can have a lasting affect on one’s sense of self worth and one’s identity. LYG (Louisville Youth Group) is a great organization that offers support to those in the LGBTQIA community and their families.

Rice also suggests people make donations to the organization directly.

IL reached out to LYG director Anna Giangrande, who says she is honored to have Rice’s support.

“LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide, be bullied at school and at home, be trafficked, use drugs or alcohol, or end up homeless,” she says. “Having a safe social space to belong (which LYG provides) reduces these risks by over 30 percent. Having community awareness and support for our organization keeps LYG free and the doors open for youth who are in need of a safe space to be who they are.”

IL will continue to watch how the story unfolds. —Sara Havens

U.S. News reveals its ranking of hospitals

Albert B. Chandler Hospital, the state’s best, according to U.S. News & World Report. | Courtesy of UK HealthCare

The state’s best hospital is … not in Louisville. Nor is the second-best. Nor the third-best.

Louisville’s best hospital is Norton Hospital, which ranks fourth in the state, after University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital in Lexington, St. Elizabeth Healthcare Edgewood-Covington and Baptist Health Lexington, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Baptist Health Louisville came in at fifth, followed by Jewish Hospital in Louisville at sixth. No other Louisville hospitals broke the Top 10.

U.S. News uses data to rank the best hospitals in 16 specialty areas, including cancer, cardiology and nephrology, and combines specialty rankings with performance on procedures such as heart bypass, hip and knee replacement and lung cancer surgery to generate an overall assessment of the institution’s quality.

U.S. News said that it estimates “that nearly 2 million hospital inpatients a year face the prospect of surgery or special care that poses either unusual technical challenges or significantly heightened risk of death or harm because of age, physical condition or existing conditions. The rankings are a tool that can help such patients find sources of especially skilled inpatient care.”

The Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., was named the best hospital in the nation, followed by the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. —Boris Ladwig