Monday Business Briefing: Passport closes on Broadway property; uptick in unemployment rate; Kindred says hurricane impact minimal; and more

Welcome to the Sept. 25 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Passport Health acquires Broadway property for $7.1 million

Passport Health plans to create a health and wellness campus on the property southwest of the intersection of Broadway and 18th Street. | Courtesy of Passport Health

Nonprofit Passport Health has closed on the purchase of a 23-acre lot at 18th Street and Broadway that will serve as its new headquarters. The property sold for $7.1 million, according to county property records.

The nonprofit plans to break ground on the site later this year or early next year, said Michael Rabkin, communications director for Passport Health, which administers Medicaid benefits for Kentuckians.

The project includes a 325,000-square-foot office building, a 525-space parking garage, 54,800 square feet of retail space, 854,100 square feet of additional commercial space, extensions of Maple and Anderson streets, and general site improvements. It will cost an estimated $130 million, and about 550 employees will work there.

Passport Health acquired the land from the husband and wife developers, Frank and Teresa Bridgewaters. As Insider previously reported, the Bridgewaters purchased the land from the city for $1 in 2006. The couple tried unsuccessfully to develop the property, including a failed attempt to bring Walmart to the site.

Fischer tweeted late Thursday: “Congratulations on closing today on land for the @PassportHealthP corporate headquarters at 18th/Broadway; major step toward construction.”

To help cover the cost of the land acquisition and development, Louisville Metro Council on Sept. 14 approved a tax-increment financing (TIF) district, valued at $10.5 million in tax incentives for the project.

“We were very excited not only to see the first TIF west of Ninth, but the entire Metro Council voted unanimously in favor of it. That was a wonderful moment,” Rabkin said. —Caitlin Bowling

Jefferson County among the 85 counties to have unemployment rate increase over past year

According to the latest figures from the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, the unemployment rate in Jefferson County increased from 4.2 percent in August of 2016 to 4.7 percent in August of this year — one of 85 counties in Kentucky to see their rate increase over that time period.

While the unemployment rate in Louisville increased over the past year, the civilian labor force of the county also increased by 5.5 percent, as the number of employed individuals increased by 17,870 and the number seeking employment over the past four weeks but still unemployed increased by 3,077.

In the Louisville Metropolitan Statistical Area that includes regional counties, the unemployment rate increased from 4.1 percent to 4.5 percent over the same time period, with the civilian labor force increasing by nearly 28,000.

Many of the 32 counties that lowered their unemployment rate since last August were located in eastern Kentucky, and only managed to do so because their labor force seeking work decreased at such a rapid rate. For example, in Magoffin County — which has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 15.4 percent last month — their labor force decreased by a full 20 percent over the past year. —Joe Sonka

Kindred shares jump after company says hurricane impact minimal

Shares of Kindred Healthcare spiked 12.5 percent after the health care services company said that the impact from hurricanes Harvey and Irma would be smaller than feared.

The company’s operations in the affected Texas and Florida areas represent about 16 percent of revenue, but all of the hospitals in Houston remained operational during Harvey, while two of 10 Florida hospitals were evacuated temporarily. None of the facilities sustained significant damage, and all have “substantially returned to normal,” the company said in a news release.

Kindred said it expected the storms to lower third-quarter pretax profit by about $20 million. The company lost $409 million in the second quarter.

The company also said that it had begun pursuing claims under its business interruption insurance coverage, which also might mitigate the hurricanes’ impact.

“Our employees demonstrated extraordinary commitment to ensuring the safety of our patients and minimizing disruptions to care, even as they dealt with the impact of the storm on their personal lives,” CEO Benjamin Breier said. “I have never been so proud of our team at Kindred, both in the storm areas and others around the country that have supported the crisis and recovery efforts.”

Kindred made the announcement after markets closed on Wednesday, and shares rose Thursday by 12.5 percent, closing at $6.30. In the two weeks before the announcement, shares had fallen by 27 percent. —Boris Ladwig

Four Louisville employers among nation’s healthiest

Four Louisville-based employers have been named among America’s top 100 healthiest places to work. Two even made the top 10.

Insurance giant Humana came in third, and Norton Healthcare ranked sixth. Energy provider LG&E & KU finished in 36th place, and Christian Care Communities ranked 89th.

The companies were chosen among 8,000 employers in more than 40 U.S. cities, according to Healthiest Employers magazine, which compiled the listing based on six key metrics including leadership commitment, programming/interventions and reporting/analysis.

Humana was lauded especially for its wellness strategy, data analytics and focus on health beyond just physical health.

Effective wellness programs “often lead to increases in positive health outcomes for employees and, in turn, improved business performance and metrics,” Healthiest Employers said.

Tim Huval, Humana’s senior vice president and chief human resources officer, said: “Tending to our own lives helps us understand and empathize with our members as they strive toward their own best health. By increasing the number of healthy days and lowering stress in our own population, we can lead by example and create healthier environments for our customers.”

More than half of Humana’s employees engage in 2.5 hours of weekly physical activity, and the number of employees with elevated blood pressure fell by more than 50 percent.

Norton Healthcare ranked sixth in the nation and won in the category “Best Use of Data and Technology.”

Phil Daniels, co-founder of the Healthiest Employer awards program, said in a press release: “We’re at an important moment in health. The confluence of data, technology and rise of specialized vendors are giving employers the tools they need to help stabilize cost and improve their population’s health. What organizations choose to do in this moment will shape the future of healthcare in America.” —Boris Ladwig

San Diego economic development team tours Louisville

Fresh off its own inspiration-seeking trip to Nashville, members of Greater Louisville Inc. joined city officials and others to welcome delegates from the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation last week.

GLI says the San Diego team spent three days in Louisville to learn about the city’s economic development strategy, talent attraction and workforce retention programs, as well as collaborative efforts spurred by partnerships among government, business and philanthropy.

In a statement, GLI’s president and CEO Kent Oyler, said, “Similar to GLI’s GLIDE trips, these leaders from California took time to dive deep into what Louisville is doing right.”

The California leaders heard from Mayor Greg Fischer, toured GE Appliance’s First Build and the University of Louisville, the Muhammad Ali Center and Churchill Downs. GLI said it shared details of its talent-attraction efforts and its “Live in Louisville” campaign.

San Diego EDC officials also met with leaders from 55,000 Degrees, KentuckianaWorks, along with the CEO of Passport Health, Mark Carter, and other local private companies that are making significant investments in economically underserved areas of the city, GLI said.

“Our hope is to inspire new approaches to challenges and opportunities in our region,” San Diego Regional EDC’s Chief Operating Officer Lauree Sahba said in a news release.  —Mickey Meece

UPS: Mediated negotiations with mechanics union will continue

Courtesy of the Teamsters.

UPS told Insider that a federal agency has rejected a request from the aircraft mechanics union to be released from negotiations, which would have moved the parties closer to a strike.

The parties have negotiated for more than three years, with proposed cuts to health benefits the major sticking point. Teamsters Local 2727, which represents 1,300 employees, including about 550 in Louisville, last week had asked the National Mediation Board, which promotes the flow of interstate commerce in the U.S. airline and railroad industries, to be released from negotiations because, a leader said, the parties were at an impasse. UPS had said that claim was “factually baseless.”

UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot told Insider via email this weekend that the company was pleased with the NMB’s decision “to continue mediated negotiations.”

“We continue to negotiate in good faith and believe that these talks will produce an agreement that’s good for the company, our mechanics and our stakeholders,” Mangeot said.

UPS is Louisville’s largest employer, and a strike during the busy holiday season could have resulted in significant disruptions for the company and holiday shipments.

The union said Sunday that it had not received a ruling from the NMB and therefore could not yet comment. The NMB could not be reached this weekend.

Tim Boyle, president of Teamsters Local 2727, had told Insider last week that recent negotiations did not go well and ended a day early.

He had said that a major sticking point remains proposed changes to a health insurance benefit that covers workers for the period after retirement but before they reach age 65, when they become eligible for Medicare, the government health insurance for older Americans.

Today, that insurance benefit costs a union member and his dependents about $3,700 per year, Boyle said. The company wants to raise the price to an annual $19,401. That price will make the benefit unaffordable, he said. In addition, the company wants to make changes to health benefits for current workers, too, he said.

Mangeot has told Insider that the company has offered the mechanics a total compensation and benefits package that is “industry-leading, generous and fair.” He previously has said that UPS mechanics earn more than $105,000 per year, plus benefits. Boris Ladwig

In Brief

Gov. Matt Bevin appointed David Greene, general manager of the Louisville Marriott Downtown Hotel, to the Greater Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau Commission for a three-year term. The commission is the policy-making body of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The highest-paying job in the state, according to Labor Department data analyzed by the site GoBankingRates, is surgeon with a salary of $278,000.

Falling victim to university-wide budget cuts, The Louisville Cardinal — the University of Louisville’s independent student newspaper — is now faced with the possibility of shutting down next year unless it can replace some of the $60,000 it used to receive in advertisements placed by the office of the president and provost. While its board works on a solution, the chairwoman Jenni Laidman has started a GoFundMe page to raise $5,000.