Monday Business Briefing: Big changes for Crash Avenue founder; state angel tax credits going fast; national firm KPFF arrives; and more

Welcome to the Jan. 30 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Jeffrey Smith closes Crash Avenue, announces changes at Do502

Jeffrey Smith | Photo by Anna Davey May

On Thursday, Jan. 26, music publicist Jeffrey Smith, who also owns and operates the local listings service Do502, took to Facebook to announce the closing of his Crash Avenue music publicity company after nearly 13 years. But it’s actually good news, he says.

“This all is happening because Discogs has wooed me away as their Public Relations and Strategic Partnerships Lead,” he wrote. “MASSIVE thank yous to anyone that has hired us, taken a chance on us, worked for me, worked with me … thank you!”

Smith also announced he’s moving Crash Avenue’s digital strategist, Jon Paul Hill, over to his other burgeoning company, Do502, as the general manager.

In a press release, Smith says, “As Do502 continues to deepen roots in the Louisville community, it has become increasingly important to find a balance between millennial multi-hyphenates and meaningful cultural experience. With J.P., we’ve found someone connected to our culture with the experience to lead us into a more meaningful relationship with our incredible city.”

Jon Paul Hill

Do502 also is saying goodbye to content manager Amelia Stevens, who is leaving the company to work at DoStuff Media in Austin, Texas, as the head of creative and sales support. The company has ties with Do502, and similar sites all around the country.

“Do502 has been an incredible journey,” Stevens tells Insider. “I’ve learned so many things, been offered amazing opportunities, and met fantastic people. It’s such a great tool for the city, and Louisville embraced Do502 faster than we could have hoped.”

And speaking of Do502’s success here in town, Smith says the site’s engagement has experienced an 85 percent increase over the last year.

“Comparatively, we’ve exceeded markets much larger in population across our network of 22 cities,” he tells Insider. “With limited support and resources, we’ve had the good fortune of being embraced by the city through our relationships with the media, musicians, artists, DJs and a fantastic group of Louisville-based brands and businesses.”

Do502 curates our Event Calendar here at Insider, as well as several other media organizations in town. —Sara Havens

Kentucky’s Angel Investment Tax Credits are nearly all used up one month into 2017

A report from the Cabinet of Economic Development shows that there is only $174,087 available in Kentucky’s Angel Investment Tax Credits for the rest of 2017. As of last week, more than $2.8 million has been scooped up by area angel investors since applications for the credits opened on Dec. 12, 2016.  Nearly $7 million has been invested in 28 companies, the cabinet reported.

Qualified angel investors who invest in qualified startup companies can receive as much as 50 percent of their investment in tax credits in counties with high employment rates, 40 percent in other counties. Investors receive these credits from the commonwealth through the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority.

Well-known investors on the list include Mayor Greg Fischer, who invested $100,000 in Lucina Health, an obstetrics-tech startup, and received a $40,000 credit; Gill Holland, who invested $10,000 in Switcher, a video software company, and received a $4,000 credit; and Ed Glasscock, who invested $25,000 in video game maker Frogdice and received a $10,000 credit. (He is an IL investor.)

According to EnterpriseCorp’s Executive Director, Lisa Bajorinas, in 2015, the first year the tax credits were made available, it took the better part of a year to allocate the credits. The investment summary for that year shows credits being allocated as late as August. In 2016, the credits were spoken for by March 31.

Bajorinas said the credits were popular “due primarily to the newness of the program, awareness by angels needing to complete documents for submission as ‘qualified investors’ and startups being required to complete documents for submission as ‘qualified businesses’ and ‘qualified investments.’ ”

All three years, the cap has been set at $3 million for the year. Bajorinas said, “The caps are absolute, and once they reach them, would have to be renewed by the General Assembly.” —Melissa Chipman

Buffalo Trace donates rare bourbon to Family & Children’s Place to auction off

Family & Children’s Place, a local nonprofit that protects children and families from abuse and neglect, is one of 200 charities across the country to receive an extremely rare bottle of O.F.C. bourbon from Buffalo Trace Distillery.

The organization has created an online auction where anyone interested can bid on the bourbon. But be prepared to pony up some dough — the minimum bid is $4,000.

“This is a few-of-a-kind bourbon, and we are very fortunate to be among those selected for this incredible opportunity,” said Pam Darnall, agency president and CEO, in a press release. “We have high hopes for the auction, which will provide invaluable funds to support our work with children and families hurt by abuse.”

The bourbon honors the original owner of the distillery where Buffalo Trace is now, the O.F.C. Distillery created by Col. E.H. Taylor Jr. The distillery was known for producing high-class whiskey back in the day, and the packaging of the bottle being auctioned matches that — including a crystal bottle with detailed fluting. The bourbon was distilled in 1980.

The auction continues through mid-February. —Sara Havens

Get your child ready for summer swim season with Bear Paddle Swim School

A Midwestern swim school chain is opening its first school in Louisville later this month. Bear Paddle specializes in year-round, seven-day-a-week swim lessons for children of all ages.

Lessons take place in a 90-degree salt water pool. Salt water improves buoyancy and is gentle on skin, hair and eyes.

Bear Paddle offers a low student-to-teacher ratio and emphasizes water safety in every lesson.

Lessons are “story based” to keep kids engaged and learning. Students earn “swim patches” when they reach milestones in their learning.

Bear Paddle – Louisville is located off of the intersection of Hurstbourne Pkwy. and Taylorsville Rd., the site of the former Doo Wop Shop, which vacated the space last summer.

Lessons are $22.50 each for one student. The facility is also available for pool parties and pool camps. –Melissa Chipman

YPAL leads bone marrow match drive for former president

Past YPAL President Rebecca Weis, an attorney at Stites & Harbison, has been diagnosed with a very rare blood cancer called blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm, which requires a bone marrow transplant.

Current President Chris Nation announced to YPAL’s 850 members that YPAL would lead a bone marrow match drive to see if any members are a match for Weis.

“My request of you today is your consideration,” Nation wrote. “Your support could be as simple as sharing this email with a friend or colleague. If yourself or anyone in your circle of influence might be interested in participating, the information is below and located on our website.”

Participating in the drive and registering for the bone marrow registry involves only a simple swab of the inside of your cheek.

Current drives are on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Thursday, Feb. 16, noon to 4 p.m. at Stites & Harbison, on the 18th Floor of 400 W. Market St. The receptionist will direct people to the donor drive location. Street parking and parking garages available. There is one on Saturday, Feb. 25, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at St. Agnes Church, at 1920 Newburg Road. —Melissa Chipman

NAWBO announces finalists for its annual EPIC Awards

The National Association of Women Business Owners, Kentucky chapter has released the names of 14 women who are finalists for one of six awards.

Each year, NAWBO hosts its EPIC Awards, which celebrate women business owners throughout the state and Southern Indiana. The organization does not say which awards the finalists are up for, but the awards are: Small Business Owner of the Year; Large Business Owner of the Year; the Humanitarian Award; Supporting Partner Award; Member of the Year Award; and the Associate Owner Award.

Here are the finalists:

This year’s ceremony will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 2 at Mellwood Arts & Entertainment Center. Tickets are $99 for members and $125 for nonmembers. The price includes a cocktail reception and three-course dinner.

Brown-Forman’s chief entertaining officer, Tim Laird, will serve as the master of ceremonies, and Northwestern Mutual financial adviser, Seema Sheth, is guest speaker. —Caitlin Bowling

Local banking companies report strong earnings for the quarter and the year

On Friday, Republic Bancorp posted a 35 percent jump in net income for the fourth quarter over the year earlier, to $10 million, or 48 cents a diluted share.

For the fiscal year 2016, net income rose 31 percent, to $46 million, or $2.22 a diluted share, resulting in a return on average assets and a return on average equity of 1.02 percent and 7.68 percent, the bank said.

In the earnings release, Steve Trager, Republic’s chairman and chief executive, said in part: “We made meaningful progress toward many of our long-term goals during the year, including: (1) expanding our footprint in the Tampa-St. Pete market through a strategic acquisition; (2) launching a digital-only banking platform during the fourth quarter; (3) growing the contribution from our non-traditional business lines at the Republic Processing Group; and (4) further improving our ROA, ROE and our Efficiency Ratio.”

Republic completed its acquisition of Cornerstone Community Bank in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 2016. IL reported on the $32 million deal when it was announced in 2015.  Trager stated that the company looked forward to 2017 “with guarded optimism,” and that it was less optimistic “about the availability of accretive acquisitions,” though its team would continue to evaluate opportunities.

The company’s shares, trading on the Nasdaq, closed Friday at $35.35, down 2 percent.

On Thursday, Stock Yards Bancorp, parent of Stock Yards Bank & Trust Company, reported that fourth-quarter net income rose 10 percent, to $10.6 million, or 46 cents a diluted share – a record the bank said in terms of net income for a quarter and equaling the best net income per diluted share for a quarter in the company’s history. This compared with $9.6 million, or 43 cents a diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2015.

Stock Yards Bank & Trust

For the full year, net income increased 10 percent, to a record $41 million, or $1.80 a diluted share, from $37.2 million, or $1.65 per diluted share the year earlier. The results were adjusted for and reflected the 3-for-2 stock split distributed in May 2016.

“We are pleased to report a strong finish to 2016, capping another year of growth and increasing profitability, as total assets surpassed $3 billion and net income reached another record amount,” said David P. Heintzman, chairman and chief executive.

“A central driver for this performance can be seen in our outstanding loan production this past year, which marked a new high point for the bank and, importantly, reflected increases across all three of our markets,” including Louisville, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, he added.

Its shares, also trading on the Nasdaq, fell 1.5 percent Friday, to close at $45.40. —Mickey Meece

Four Louisville projects preliminarily approved for state tax incentives

Falls City Brewing Co. will receive state incentives for its expansion. | File Photo

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority has preliminarily approved $1.75 million in tax incentives for four projects in Louisville.

As IL reportedDiversified Consultants, a debt collection company, will invest an estimated $6.65 million on rent, building improvements, equipment and other costs, according to the KEDFA report.

Diversified Consultants is expected to move into a 60,000 square-foot building in the Commerce Crossings business park by April 1 and create 433 new jobs in the state. KEDFA preliminarily approved a $1 million tax incentive for the company.

The other three projects are expansions: Care Innovations, Falls City Brewing Co. and Mills Supply Co. all are adding to existing Louisville operations.

Insider Louisville reported last week that Falls City Brewing Co. was bringing its main brewing operations back to Louisville and co-locating in a building with Heine Brothers’ Coffee.

The company is expected to invest $2.1 million for the building, equipment and other costs, as well as create six jobs, according to KEDFA documents. In return, Falls City will receive $150,000 in tax incentives over 10 years.

Health care tech concern Care Innovations is considering adding office space to support its software development, analytics and testing operations, at an estimated cost of $1.66 million, according to the KEDFA report.

The company was preliminarily approved for a $500,000 as long as it creates 18 new full-time jobs. The jobs will pay about $58 an hour, which includes benefits.

The third business, Mills Supply Co., is a family owned business that makes custom rebar. The company, which has outgrown its 15,000-square-foot facility, plans to construct an additional 65,000-square-foot manufacturing space to help it compete for larger jobs, the KEDFA report states. The cost is estimated at $7.45 million.

Mills Supply Co. was approved for a $100,000 tax incentive. —Caitlin Bowling

National engineering firm opens its first Louisville office

Greg Buccola is leading KPFF’s local office. | File Photo

KPFF wasn’t looking to expand to Louisville, according to Greg Buccola, head of the engineering firm’s brand new local office.

Buccola, a former vice president and senior market director for Luckett & Farley, said he reached out to mentor John Gavan, president of KPFF, to seek career counseling when conversations turn toward opening a local KPFF office. Gavan had given Buccola his first job starting out and now his current title.

He called it  “the perfect time and circumstance for me personally and professionally.”

The office opened this year at 734 W. Main St., and Buccola is in the process of hiring six to seven employees. Next year, he expects to have a dozen people working in the KPFF Louisville office, with the goal of eventually reaching 30 employees or more.

“We wanted to be in a place that could attract a lot of talent,” Buccola said, noting that all the jobs are high paying.

The KPFF Louisville office’s main focus is structural engineering. Currently, many structural engineering jobs in the area are going to out-of-state firms, Buccola said.

“We are looking to capture more of that market,” he said. —Caitlin Bowling