The Closing Bell: Some local stocks buck slide; new Weekly Juicery; Wild Ginger in Norton Commons; ice machine deal; 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.

Liquor, pizza, health care buck stock slide

Courtesy of Flickr

Stocks tumbled Thursday as investors feared the political fallout from the white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Va., would inhibit Congress from working with President Donald Trump on his agenda.

Stocks of many Louisville-based publicly traded companies fell, too, Thursday — but liquor, pizza and health care companies posted gains.

CNBC reported that investors were reacting unfavorably over fears that Trump’s reaction to the violent protests in Charlottesville would derail the Republican Party’s business-friendly agenda, particularly on taxes. The S&P 500 fell 1.5 percent, the NASDAQ gave up nearly 2 percent.

Churchill Downs stumbled 1.7 percent Thursday, while investor unease took a 1.2 percent bite out of Yum! Brands. The financial sector, too, took a hit: Stock Yards Bancorp, Republic Bancorp and PNC suffered declines up to 2.2 percent. Shares of manufacturer Sypris Solutions fell 2.3 percent, but still had gained more than 14 percent for the week, after saying in its second-quarter earnings report that it would generate a profit in the second half of the year.

And distiller Brown-Forman saw its shares rise 1 percent, while Papa John’s Pizza delivered a 0.9 percent gain. Kindred Healthcare, whose stock has been hammered in recent weeks, recorded a gain of more than 4 percent. Humana insured a small increase Thursday and announced after markets closed that its board declared a dividend of 40 cents per share, payable Oct. 27 to shareholders of record as of Sept. 29. —Boris Ladwig

UoL professor: Autonomous vehicles improve safety, reduce travel time

An autonomous Ford Fusion hybrid. | Photo by Boris Ladwig.

Autonomous vehicles will reduce car crashes — but also reduce travel time and maximize use of space on roads, a University of Louisville professor said.

About 90 percent of vehicle crashes are the result of human error, and safety is the major concern of the drive toward autonomous vehicles, said Zhixia (Richard) Li, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering.

Li, who holds a doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Cincinnati, was one of the presenters Thursday morning at TechFest Lou, a two-day summit of tech professionals organized by the Technology Association of Louisville Kentucky.

While about 20 companies are working toward getting autonomous vehicles onto U.S. roads by 2020 — and many already are conducting experiments — cost remains a major problem, Li said. Automotive systems with enough autonomy that would allow the human driver/passenger to sleep still cost more than $100,000, which makes the technology unaffordable for all but a sliver of the population.

Zhixia Li

Nonetheless, 10 states have passed laws that allow for the testing of autonomous vehicles. One of those states is Iowa, which is testing driverless cars on Interstate 80. Li said a study on the Iowa project shows that if the four-lane interstate were left unchanged, average crashes per mile would increase 9 percent, while vehicle crowding would reduce vehicle speeds by 5 percent and increase overall travel time by up to 12 percent. A six-lane interstate without the use of automated vehicles would cut crashes by 14 percent, while a six-lane interstate with AVs would cut crashes by 59 percent — and fatal/major crashes by 50 percent.

In addition, the six-lane highway and AVs also would reduce vehicle crowding by 35 percent, increase average speeds by 2 percent and reduce overall travel times — despite a doubling in vehicle volume.

Li said AVs reduce driver frustration in part because they make better use of available space. Because of their advanced sensors and reaction time, AVs can travel much more closely to the vehicle in front of them — without reducing safety — than human drivers could.

“As engineers, we want to improve safety, (but) at the same time we also want to improve mobility,” Li said. —Boris Ladwig

The Weekly Juicery opening new Louisville location this weekend

The Weekly Juicery is opening on East Market Street in NuLu. | Courtesy of The Weekly Juicery

Lexington-based cold-pressed juice bar The Weekly Juicery will once again have multiple location in Louisville.

This Saturday, The Weekly Juicery is opening at 632 E. Market St. in the NuLu neighborhood. The grand opening will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and feature samples of cold-pressed juice, local vegan food by V-Grits, giveaways and live music by Nicholas Penn. The first 50 customers will get a free cold-pressed juice.

“There’s not many super-healthy options for quick, grab-and-go foods and drinks in that neighborhood,” owner Kimmye Bohannon said in a news release. “We can’t wait to share our mission for organics and all things healthy in that area of Louisville.”

Its hours of operation 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sunday and Monday.

The Weekly Juicery previously had a store in St. Matthews but that closed, Insider reported, leaving only its Brownsboro Road location until now. —Caitlin Bowling

Prominent support for soccer club’s stadium plans

A rendering of the proposed soccer stadium. | Courtesy of Louisville City FC

Louisville’s pro soccer club is getting some prominent help as it is pursuing its goal to build a Butchertown stadium.

Sandra Frazier, founder of Tandem Public Relations, member of the UofL board and former member of the Brown-Forman board, has taken a “decision-making role” on the board of Louisville City FC, the club said in a press release.

The second-division club is in second place in the United Soccer League’s Eastern Division and last weekend drew a record 13,821 spectators at its home venue, Slugger Field. The club this season has identified as its primary off-the-field goal to make significant progress toward the construction of a $40 million, 10,000-seat stadium about a half mile east of Slugger. The club wants to complete the venue by 2020 to improve its revenue streams and eventually make a bid to become a Major League Soccer franchise.

Frazier said in a press release that she was “delighted” to join the board.

Sandra Frazier

“I’ve seen first hand the board’s passion and look forward to helping with our club’s continued success, including the stadium project and Butchertown’s revitalization,” she said.

John Neace, the club’s chairman and president, said LouCity is honored to have Frazier join the organization at a crucial time.

Frazier, who holds a master’s from Boston University, has been active in numerous efforts to improve the community, including the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority, the Kentucky Center and the Louisville Zoo Foundation. In 2011, she received the Lyman T. Johnson Distinguished Leadership Award for her activism and community support.

LouCity play Bethlehem Steel FC at 5 p.m. Sunday. The match will be broadcast by WMYO-TV, NewsRadio 840 WHAS and USL Soccer’s YouTube channel. —Boris Ladwig

Disclosure: Sandra Frazier is an investor in Insider Louisville.

Wild Ginger opens Norton Commons location

Wild Ginger has sushi bars at both locations. | Courtesy of Wild Ginger

Jenny Wang, owner of Wild Ginger, has quietly opened her second location.

Wild Ginger, which is an Asian Fusion restaurant in the Highlands, now has a sister location at 9415 Norton Commons Blvd. Wang told Insider that the Norton Commons restaurant, however, is focusing solely on traditional Japanese food and offers 20 different sakes.

She added that she doesn’t have a final menu for the East End Wild Ginger. “We just want to see customer feedback,” Wang said, before setting the menu in stone.

Norton Commons location seats about 50, including seating for 10 at the sushi bar

Right now, the restaurant is serving dinner only with operating hours of 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Eventually, Wang plans to add on lunch. —Caitlin Bowling

Historic ice machine company announces deal with Weller Equity Partners

Vogt Ice, which built the world’s first automatic sized ice machine, the Tube-Ice Machine, announced this week that an investor group led by Weller Equity Partners has acquired a majority stake in the company. (If you’re wondering, up until then ice had always been made in blocks.) The company was a division of the Henry Vogt Machine Company.

The terms were not disclosed.

Today, Vogt Ice designs, manufactures and distributes heavy duty ice making machines, chillers and parts to commercial and industrial customers worldwide. It is headquartered in West Louisville and employs around 100 people.

In a news release Dale Boden, managing partner of Weller Equity Partners, praised the CEO and said: “As part of our investment criteria, we look for strong regional companies with identifiable competitive advantages in their industries, as well as experienced management teams that are vested in their company’s success. We are excited to back J.T. Sims and his team to provide Vogt Ice with capital to increase its focus on sales and marketing, expand its distribution and develop new products. This investment is a great fit for our growing portfolio of manufacturing investments.”

Disclosure: Dale Boden is an investor in Insider Louisville. —Melissa Chipman

In Brief

• Lexington-based Space Tango launched its second TangoLab aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 this week. “The installation of TangoLab-2 not only doubles the capacity of that product line but allows longer duration and more complex configurations,” explained Space Tango CEO Twyman Clements. “This is required for the ever more complex R&D and pilot manufacturing Space Tango’s customers are undertaking.”

• The U.S. Small Business Administration is granting up to $125,000 to the Kentucky Science and Technology Corp., a nonprofit that aids science and technology-related businesses and organizations. The nonprofit was one of 16 organizations to receive the funding because of its outreach and technical assistance to science and technology-driven small businesses.

• Last month, Sullivan announced that all three of its institutions would merge under the single name of Sullivan University. This week, the school said that less than 2 percent of the system’s employees were laid off as a result.