Monday Business Briefing: Slane Distillery opens; Tafel projects goes to a vote; Humana touts social responsibility; IdeaFest; and more

Welcome to the Sept. 11 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Brown-Forman’s Slane Distillery opens in Ireland

The Slane Distillery in Ireland is now open. | Courtesy of Brown-Forman

Brown-Forman’s first new distillery constructed outside the United States opened last week in Slane, County Meath, Ireland, which is just 30 miles north of Dublin.

The Slane Distillery & Visitor Experience marks the return of the Boyne River Valley as a prominent area for making Irish whiskey.

“The Boyne Valley was an important center for Irish whiskey production in the 18th and 19th centuries, when Irish whiskey was the most popular aged spirit category in the world,” said Alex Conyngham, co-founder of Slane Irish Whiskey, in a press release. “With the opening of Slane Distillery, we aim to restore this legacy for future generations by combining the best of traditional Irish whiskey craftsmanship with progressive process innovation.”

The state-of-the-art distillery sits on the Conyngham family’s 1,500-acre estate and features the Slane Castle. Before making Irish whiskey, the site was known for its annual music festival, which will continue alongside the whiskey making. The distillery offers visitors a full tour experience, much like bourbon distilleries here in Kentucky.

The $50 million project began in the fall of 2015. Slane Irish Whiskey is now available on store and bar shelves in the U.S. —Sara Havens

Controversial Tafel Motors project expected to go to a vote tomorrow

The development is named The Stockwell. | Courtesy of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government

Some St. Matthews residents are once again gearing up to speak out against a mixed-use development proposed on the Tafel Motors site. A group of residents have continued to voice concerns about safety and traffic since developer Investment Property Advisors first announced the project.

The estimated $40 million development, which includes a 276-unit apartment building, retail and restaurants, is slated to go before the St. Matthews City Council at 7 p.m. tomorrow, Sept. 12. The council is expected to vote on whether to eliminate existing development restrictions on the property and whether to permit the developers to close a section of North and South Church Way.

Insider reached out to Chase Sorrick, a partner with Investment Property Advisors, through phone and email to see what, if any, changes the company plans to make before heading back before the St. Matthews City Council. He did not respond by press time.

The developer previously went before the city council earlier this month and asked council members to delay a vote on the project following outcry from St. Matthews residents, WDRB News reported.

Investment Property Advisors’ development must receive approval from the city of St. Matthews and Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government to move forward. —Caitlin Bowling

Humana touts corporate social responsibility in annual report

Humana recently released its annual Corporate Social Responsibility Progress Report, in which the Louisville-based health insurance company touts its efforts to improve the lifelong health and well being of the communities that it serves. Since 2012, Humana has advanced a corporate social responsibility platform of Healthy People, Healthy Planet and Healthy Performance, seeking to make its stakeholders 20 percent healthier by 2020.

This year’s report shows Humana nearing its 2017 goal of reducing the number of mentally and psychically unhealthy days its employees have over a 30-day period to 4.9, as this number went from 6.1 in 2012 to 5.2 last year. The company also praised its Humana at Home initiative that helped more than one million chronically ill and disabled people live independently at home with care services.

Humana highlighted its employees’ 477,786 hours of volunteer services and programs to support veterans across the country. The Humana Foundation gave out $4.8 million of health-related grants to nonprofit organizations in 2016 – including the new “It starts with me!” program collaborating with the Louisville Urban League – and $360,000 in disaster relief.

In addition to underscoring efforts to promote inclusion and supplier diversity, the Humana report highlighted its sustainability goals of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, cutting energy consumption and increasing the rate of waste diverted from landfills. While Humana has nearly reached its goal of increasing its waste diversion rate by 40 percent, the report shows the company is well short of its goals to decrease both greenhouse gas emissions and annual energy consumption by five percent from its 2013 baseline. Through August of 2017, Humana had only cut emissions by .6 percent, while energy consumption has actually increased by 4.3 percent. —Joe Sonka

Improv performer joins growing lists of IdeaFestival presenters

Longtime improv performer Busy Burr, who happens to be head of innovation for Humana, has been added to this year’s IdeaFestival. She will present on Thursday, Sept. 28.

Burr joins more than 20 other IdeaFestival presenters, including CNN’s John King, play expert Peter Gray, Delhi-based social entrepreneur Anshu Gupta, musician psychiatrist Richard Kogan, WIRED’s Emily Dreyfuss and more for the annual festival that runs this year Sept. 27-Sept. 28, at The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.

Busy Burr

Burr, who has an MBA from Stanford University, is the founding partner of Humana Health Ventures, Humana’s strategic venture group. This year, she was named to the Global Corporate Venturing Power List for 2017, placing her among the top 100 corporate venturing leaders in the world.

According to a news release, in her session, “Preparing to Show Up…Unprepared,” Burr, a 30-year Silicon Valley veteran, will explore how being comfortable with being “unprepared” has changed how she lives and works.

Kris Kimel, the festival founder, says the importance of staying relevant has emerged as a central theme of the 2017 IdeaFestival.

“Organizations, individuals and brands must move beyond many of the traditional measures of success and also be seen as important, meaningful and relevant to people’s expectations, values and aspirations in the 21st century,” Kimel said in the release. “You can be making money, have a strong brand history or be putting students in seats and still be increasingly irrelevant in the long-game. Think Kodak.”

Day passes ($160) and Thrivals passes ($99) to the festival are now available. Visit to learn more and register. —Mickey Meece

Long John Silver’s taps Louisville drama teacher for new commercial

Of all the second jobs teachers take on, drama teacher Jordan Price’s new job is arrgh-uably the best.

Price, who works at Lincoln Elementary Performing Arts School, has donned a pirate hat and garb as part of a new social media campaign for Louisville-based seafood chain Long John Silver’s.

Long John Silver’s has long celebrated “Talk Like a Pirate Day” on Sept. 19 with various promotions, and this year, the chain is highlighting its new Deep Fried Twinkie. Customers who talk like a pirate get a free Twinkie that day.

Leading up to the day, Long John Silver’s is releasing videos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram featuring Price acting like a pirate. Long John Silver’s even borrowed some 18th century costume pieces from the Frazier History Museum to dress Price for the part.

One recently released video shows Price encouraging a young girl to let out her best “arrgh.”

“People have so much fun with this, which is why ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’ is one of our favorites,” Stephanie Mattingly, vice president of media and promotions, said in a news release. “Jordan is such a talented actor and a natural with kids, so we just let him run with it.” —Caitlin Bowling

Portland Investment Initiative acquires three buildings on West Main Street

Portland Investment Initiative buys three buildings on West Main. | Courtesy Pii

Just two blocks from Museum Row, and the new start of the Urban Bourbon Trail at Frazier Museum, Portland Investment Initiative has staked its latest claim in the Portland Warehouse District.

On Friday, Pii, the investment group led by Gill Holland, announced that it had acquired three “highly visible” buildings on West Main Street, between 12th and 13th streets.

In an interview on Saturday, Pii Managing Director Stephanie Kertis said the vision for the buildings’ future use would be a brewery or destination distillery or other “creative business” that could take advantage of any expansion of the Urban Bourbon Trail.

Strategically, the organization noted, the parcels are one block from the Phase 4 expansion of Waterfront Park, across the street from Heine Brothers’ Coffee roastery and headquarters, and adjacent to Interapt’s new headquarters.

In a press release, Pii said the easternmost building would be in use for a few months by the seller Hubbuch & Co., which has had operations there since 2003 but was consolidating. That building at 1217 W. Main St. dates from 1910, it said. The middle building, above, is also listed at 1217 W. Main, Pii said. And Harmon’s Service Center, at 1237 W. Main St., has operated in the corner building for over 40 years. (Pii said the owners put that corner property on the market last year when they decided to retire.) –Mickey Meece

Pediatric Cancer Trust seeks applications for grants in state

The Kentucky Pediatric Cancer Research Trust Fund is accepting applications for its first round of research grants for institutions and agencies dedicated to the treatment and cure of childhood cancer, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Jamie Ennis Bloyd, the mother of a childhood cancer survivor and president of the fund, said the projects are funded by residents who chose to check the box on their state income tax returns. “Now, not only are we publicly recognizing childhood cancer as the number one cause of death by disease for children, we are doing something about it,” she said in a press release.

Nonprofit organizations, educational institutions or government agencies in the state are eligible for the grant applications. —Mickey Meece

In Brief

  • Baptist Health Louisville came in at No. 2 on’s ranking of Best Hospitals in Kentucky for Nurses in 2017. (Actually, it was tied with Methodist Hospital in Henderson. analyzed 1,075 surveys of nurses from 87 hospitals in Kentucky to rank the best hospitals to work for in the state of Kentucky. Baptist Health Lexington ranked No. 1.
  • Community Ventures has received $120,000 from the Small Business Administration’s program for investment in micro-entrepreneurs, or Prime. Community Ventures, which is based in Lexington, but has offices in Louisville, Owensboro and Campbellsville, helps people own homes and start businesses.
  • Clay & Cotton at Bardstown Road and Cherokee Parkway is closing on Sept. 19 after 13 years. The owner Margy Taylor told Insider in an email that she decided to close because she is moving out to Colorado to be nearer family and because of pressures from online retail sales.