Monday Business Briefing: Big Bar is expanding; conflicting reports on GE Appliances’ China expansion; tariffs to cost Ford $1B; and more
Welcome to the Oct. 1 Monday Business Briefing, your weekly business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.
Highlands’ Big Bar is getting bigger
Since 2012, Big Bar has occupied a small space near the corner of Bardstown Road and Lucia Avenue, next door to The Wine Market. Business has been steady, and patrons tend to fill in every nook and cranny the bar offers, so owner Kevin Bryan has decided to expand.
During Louisville Pride earlier this month, Bryan debuted a banner that read “Bigger is always better,” teasing of the renovations.
Insider caught up with him for the details and found out that while the bar will only get 18 inches wider on each side, the main expansion will include a rooftop bar and patio — and the addition of two more restrooms.
Bryan said he’s been working on the plans for more than a year, obtaining the necessary permits and structural assessments. The expansion will more than double the square footage he has now, and the additional space will allow him to add more beer taps, implement a better cocktail program and store more glassware, thereby cutting down on waste from plastic cups.
“It’s been time for an upgrade for a while,” Bryan said. “I just want to provide a better space for my staff and my patrons and also cut down on our waste.”
Big Bar will close for a few months while the construction takes place, most likely on or around Jan. 3, Bryan said, so he can re-open by Derby. The rooftop area might have its own name, and Bryan said he’s open to suggestions, but he rolled his eyes when we mentioned “Bigger Bar?” —Sara Havens
GE Appliances is expanding in China — or maybe not?
GE Appliances opened its 16th store in China this month, with plans to reach 23 by the end of the year as it tries to target high-end consumers for its U.S.-made washing machines, ovens and refrigerators, according to an article by the China Financial Weekly.
The report, however, conflicts with information from the England-based Financial Times, which reported recently that GEA’s Chinese owner has delayed plans to sell its U.S. products in China because of the intensifying trade war between the countries.
Meanwhile, GE Appliances, which employs about 6,000 at Appliance Park in Louisville, told Insider it has “plans to continue to sell in China and grow our presence in the country — particularly with high-end consumers.”
The Financial Times based its report on comments from Zhang Ruimin, CEO of Haier Group, which bought GEA in June 2016 for $5.6 billion.
“Originally there was no problem (importing from the U.S.), but now there may be problems,” the paper quoted the CEO as saying. “I think Chinese consumers are most interested in (GEA) kitchen products. But the U.S. government thought differently.”
President Donald Trump this month imposed another $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, and China promptly said it would retaliate.
According to the Financial Times, Zhang said Haier planned to sell U.S.-made appliances in China to “affluent consumers, such as former students in the U.S. who had returned home.”
Meanwhile, GEA spokeswoman Julie Wood told Insider that the Louisville-based company’s plans regarding China haven’t changed and that the company still has “plans to expand” there.
She also shared a link to the China Financial Weekly piece, according to which GEA’s net income in China has increased 80 percent since Haier acquired the company.
And, the Chinese publication said, while the U.S. appliance market has declined by 1 percent in the first half of the year, GEA’s revenue increased 11 percent and was the “fastest-growing brand in the United States.” —Boris Ladwig
Ford CEO: Metals tariffs cost automaker $1 billion
Ford Motor Co. expects higher steel and aluminum prices to cost the automaker $1 billion in 2018 and 2019.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett told Bloomberg last week, “The metals tariffs took about $1 billion in profit from us — and the irony is we source most of that in the U.S. anyway. If it goes on longer, there will be more damage.”
A Ford spokeswoman told Insider that the $1 billion figure reflects the automaker’s projected metals tariff impact for 2018 and 2019 and that it’s not clear at this point whether Ford will eat the entire amount or pass some of that on to customers.
Ford is Louisville’s second-largest employer. Its two local plants primarily make the Super Duty pickup and Escape SUV.
The company’s spokeswoman said the company does not break down tariff impact by facility or vehicle. An analyst, though, estimated an industry impact of $300 per vehicle, on average, according to Reuters. —Boris Ladwig
LEGO store coming to Louisville
Louisville’s Oxmoor Center will become home to a LEGO store sometime in November, just in time for holiday season, according to the company’s website.
Insider emailed LEGO for comment and additional information about when the store is expected to open and how many people it will employ, but it was not returned by press time.
The LEGO store will open in a roughly 2,000-square-foot space, adjacent to the Apple store, said Kendall Merrick, general manager at Oxmoor Center, adding that the shop will draw both children and adult LEGO fans.
“We are just super excited because it’s an iconic brand that has been making interlocking bricks since 1932,” Merrick said. “We expect there are going to be a lot of fun activities and creativity coming from that store.”
Graeter’s corporate buys local franchise locations
The ice cream company that helped bring Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip Stout into the world has now brought all its scoop shop locations in-house.
Cincinnati-based Graeter’s Ice Cream announced last week that it signed an agreement with franchise group Tedesco to acquire its stores in Louisville, Lexington and Indianapolis. Now, for the first time in more than three decades, all Graeter’s Ice Cream locations will be owned and run by corporate, the company stated in a news release.
“Serving our guests the best tasting handcrafted ice cream in family-friendly stores is the centerpiece of who we are,” Richard Graeter, the fourth-generation owner and CEO of Graeter’s, said in the release. “We hope to retain and rely on the current team members in our scoop shops to help us complete a seamless transition that continues to serve our loyal customers in these markets.”
Louisville centers to receive federal opioid funding
Two Louisville health care entities will benefit from recently announced federal funding, which mainly aims to help community health centers fight the opioid crisis.
Shawnee Christian Healthcare Center and Family Health Centers are on a list of 20 entities that will get a piece of nearly $5.6 million in funding from U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS).
Family Health Centers will use its $285,000 for a variety of things, including hiring a care coordinator, who will help people coming from residential treatment centers, detox facilities and the criminal justice system to transition to Family Health Centers’ substance use program.
“The Care Coordinator will make that personal connection with people before they leave a treatment program so that they have a plan in place to continue their recovery,” Melissa Mather, a spokeswoman for Family Health Centers, said by email. The goal is to help them overcome barriers “so that they continue their treatment and do not relapse.”
Family Health Centers also will hire an additional peer support specialist to work with homeless people who are trying to get clean, and it will devote some funding to paying for transportation to and from appointments and helping people afford Vivitrol, a monthly shot that helps prevent relapses by opioid-dependent individuals.
Shawnee Christian Healthcare Center will use its $285,000 to enhance its mental health and substance use services, Lindsay Nelson, director of development and grant programs, said by email. That includes hiring a licensed clinical social worker/certified alcohol and drug counselor.
A community health worker also will be hired to help patients who have substance use or mental health disorders to get added help with tasks, such as finding a job, Nelson said. Some funding will be used to train staff on integrated behavioral health and to improve the electronic health record.
The funds were announced in September by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who also recently noted that Kentucky will receive $31.47 million from HHS as part of the State Opioid Response Grants program. —Darla Carter
Imagine Greater Louisville 2020 announces a call for project proposals
There’s $100,000 up for grabs for artists and/or organizations with an idea in mind on how to make Louisville more interesting and beautiful. Imagine Greater Louisville 2020 and the Fund for the Arts are accepting applications until Oct. 31; proposals must fit within the parameters outlined here.
“We’ve already launched 34 arts and cultural projects that are supporting artists and serving kids and families across the region,” Mayor Greg Fischer said in a news release. “This round of Imagine Greater Louisville projects is another phenomenal opportunity to leverage creative ideas to address some of our community’s biggest challenges.”
According to the release, proposals of all sizes are encouraged, but the projects must be located in Jefferson County, be ready to begin by January 2019, contain methods to track success and support the overall vision of 2020, which emphasizes the five priorities of access, cultivation, education, promotion, and equity, diversity and inclusion.
Logistics giant UPS, Louisville’s largest employer, said it plans to hire about 100,000 seasonal employees, including about 2,000 locally, for the upcoming winter holidays. Insider reported on Sept. 5 that logistics companies were ramping up hiring this year because of growing e-commerce sales.
Crews from Louisville-based nonprofit WaterStep departed Sunday to bring disaster relief kits to Hurricane Florence victims. The kits “can produce up to 10,000 gallons of safe drinking water each day,” according to a news release from GE Appliances, which is assisting the effort through a $25,000 donation.
Starting today, Oct. 1, El Taco Luchador downtown, 500 W. Jefferson St., is serving up a breakfast menu from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday. The menu includes Huevos Rancheros, Huevos Motulenos, a steak and egg burrito and a chorizo, egg and potato taco.
Louisville Metro Government is seeking proposals from local nonprofits that want to apply for the JP Morgan Chase AdvancingCities Challenge, which will award winning groups grants of up to $3 million over three years. The city will host an open meeting about the challenge at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11, at the main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library.
Local banking company Limestone Bancorp. appointed Celia Catlett, general counsel at steakhouse chain Texas Roadhouse, to its board of directors.