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Some rural telecommunications providers worry about a newly proposed Federal Communications Commission initiative to overhaul an $8 billion subsidy program for land-line telephone services to fund expansion of broadband. The Universal Service Fund now supports phone services to schools, libraries, the poor and high-cost areas, and is financed by long-distance phone call charges paid to local carriers. It also subsidizes smaller telecommunications companies that provide services in rural areas.

Todd Shields of Bloomberg Businessweek reports that rural telecoms wonder if the new FCC plan will strengthen or weaken their networks. Jeffrey Silva of Medley Global Advisors in Washington told Shields that rural carriers face the greatest risk from the reforms, so their inclusion in the process is essential to passage. David Mitchell, an economic researcher at Missouri State University, told Shields that big outfits like AT&T and Verizon would be "the winners" under the plan because they would absorb small carriers that would not be able to afford the changes necessary to become broadband providers.

An estimated 14 to 24 million people don't have high-speed Internet access. Shields reports that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants to increase access from 65 percent to 90 percent because "broadband has gone from being a luxury to a necessity for full participation in our economy and society." The subsidy program overhaul would decrease fees paid to connect long-distance calls, which Genachowski said would reduce costs for rural phone service. A group of telephone companies led by AT&T asked the FCC in July to reduce these costs; the proposals will be brought before the FCC Oct. 27. (Read more)
Written by Ivy Brashear

City National Bank Offering Federal Inmates Checking Accounts

Bankers Set Up Makeshift Office In Federal Prison Halfway Houses Offering Free Preferred Checking And Overdraft Protection To Inmates
“City National employees maintain strong relationships with customers and are in tune with the needs of local citizens. In response to local demand, for instance, we were the first in our markets to introduce an innovative checking option, Bounce Back Checking, for individuals who have been denied the opportunity to open a checking account and are looking for a fresh start.” City National Website

In either an unorthodox attempt to boost its own bank customer base or in keeping with their professed “strong relationships with the needs of local citizens,” Bank officers are setting up shop each month in select Federal Halfway Houses within WV, Ohio and Kentucky to entice inmates into depositing their money into checking and savings accounts.

One Dismas Charities employee (federal halfway house) who asked to remain anonymous stated that bank representatives from City National come to the St. Albans WV facility each month to meet one on one with inmates to open savings and or checking accounts. In fact, we were given a copy of a posted notice at Dismas advertising the banks routine visit to the halfway house to offer checking and savings accounts to residents. (Inmates)

Federal Bureau of Prison (BOP) and Dismas policy requires each person residing at the federal facility to have a bank account and deposit a percentage of their payroll earnings into it. Dismas Charities in St. Albans also banks with City National and according to our inside source, the bank gives incentives to Dismas Corporate for allowing them first access to the men and women living at the facility.  What type of incentives are alleged? “At one time it was $100 for each new account.” If true, that's a bit shady at the least.

A Whole New Meaning To The Bounce Back Checking Program

We obtained documents from a former resident at Dismas who had been convicted of counterfeiting and had a long history of trouble with checking accounts over a 30 year period.  “The bank employee who opened my accounts with a cash deposit only asked for a social security card, drivers license and my signature." Several days later he received confirmation of his accounts being opened as a preferred customer, deposits slips and a VISA bank card came soon after. (His bank statements and checks have the address of this Dismas facility printed on them)

But, it didn’t end there… besides the free preferred customer checking and savings accounts, this man also received $800 worth of overdraft protection without ever asking, opting in or applying for it. And, according to a copy of his credit report, the bank never ran a required credit check that they state is required for that service. If they had, his low score credit rating of 522 would have been a quick denial.

“One day when I was in the bank to see if I was overdrawn on my checking account, the teller told me that I had overdraft protection and it was the highest amount available, $800.”

"The bank teller went on to explain that overdraft protection was like having a pre-approved loan and that I could use it whenever I desired.” But what no one explained to him, the bank charges $34 each and every time the overdraft protection is used. And, that $34 fee counts against the $800. It turned out to be a total disaster for this person who now owes the bank approximately $1,400. Note: In July 2010 a class-action federal lawsuite was filed that alleges City National Bank WV charged customers overdraft fee's on their accounts through "unfair and deceptive overdraft practices."
 

We also discovered that this practice of approaching inmates to open accounts not only increases the banks customer base and on hand deposits, the bank employees are able to better meet their personal incentive goals at work for new accounts. The Dismas facility in St Albans produces up to 15 new accounts each month.

“It’s like shooting fish in a barrel” according to our Dismas source.

The Pro’s And Conn’s To City Nationals Program

When first learning of City National Banks ongoing practice of approaching inmates to open checking and savings accounts, it raised a red flag. Its almost comical and very shady considering the allegations of kickbacks to the halfway house corporation.

When looking at this from the prisoner’s perspective, no matter what the ulterior motive may be for the bank and halfway house owners, it can be very difficult for ex-offenders to obtain banking services with a criminal record.  It’s almost impossible now days for a person convicted of a felony to get a job, credit, life insurance, housing or most other necessities everyone else enjoys and or takes for granted.

A September 2010 BBC news article claims that banks are providing prisoners in England with checking accounts… “Having a bank account can help stop prisoners re-offending; so should financial institutions be doing more to make them available?” One key problem faced by ex-prisoners is lack of access to a bank account. Without that, employers may be reluctant to give them a job and landlords are sometimes unwilling to rent even a room. Banks do not offer even basic banking facilities to ex-prisoners as they do not have the list of former addresses, identity documents and credit history required.

Prison officials in the BBC story said that “Having a bank account gives them personal identity which then opens doors to employment, to accommodation, to maintaining family ties and for personal enhancement, improving offenders own self-esteem.”

Headquartered in Charleston, W.V., City National Bank has 68 locations throughout West Virginia and in Kentucky and Ohio. The bank has expanded into Walmart Supercenters in various locations, adding greater convenience for customers. Founded in 1957, City Holding today employs approximately 800 professionals.

Inmates living in federal halfway houses have been recently released from prison and reside there from 2 months up to one year. Their crimes range from drugs, sex offenders, bank robbery to money crimes. The time spent inside a halfway house is to allow men and women the opportunity to reintegrate back into society.

Update 10/1/2011... City National Banks General Council, Brace Mullett, contacted WV News and stated that the bank denies the contents of this story. Mullett states that City National employees have only been to Dismas Charities Halfway House on one occasion and it was last year. And, it was at the invitation of Dismas staff. He stated that outside of that one occasion, no authorized representative of City National has been there before or after even though we can confirm at least 8 visits between July 2010 and May 2011.

Mullett denies that there was ever a "makeshift office" (which means - temporary) utilized. He states that there were never any incentives offered or provided to Dismas. That overdraft protection does not require a credit check and that $800 is not the limit for that service.  Bottom line, City National only admits to being at Dismas one time to enlist customer accounts, and it happened to be the exact same day the former resident of Dismas (referred to above) opened his checking account.

Our stance? We stand behind this story 100% and its contents. And that we would welcome any civil action that City National would entertain so that the true facts can come out. By federal law, Dismas keeps accurate records, logs and video tapes of all visitors coming and going on while there.  Not to mention all of the other former residents who opened their bank accounts when City National Employees were at Dismas soliciting accounts.

In Closing…

Under the right guidelines, this could be a positive move for prisoners and banks. But, under the current program that City National Bank offers, it appears on the surface that bank officials are giving away the farm with no collateral.

Everyone would like to have their banks best services available; from free gold card checking-savings, lines of credit and or top of the line overdraft protection.

But, do you have to go to prison first to be eligible for these perks?

 

End Of Story….
Jack Swint - Publisher
WV News 2011
(304) 982-7024
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9/27/2011
AEP Promotes Dennis E. Welch To Chief Administrative Officer
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Sept. 27, 2011 – Dennis E. Welch has been promoted to executive vice president and chief administrative officer of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), effective Oct. 1.

Welch, 60, has served as executive vice president – Environment, Safety & Health and Facilities since December 2007. He joined AEP in 2005 as senior vice president – Environment and Safety. In his new role, Welch will add Shared Services – which includes Information Technology, Human Resources and Business Logistics – to his current responsibilities. Welch will report to AEP President Nicholas K. Akins.

“Dennis is a proven leader with a unique ability to build relationships that have helped AEP achieve success in many areas, including our environmental and sustainability efforts,” Akins said. “His commitment to improving the company’s safety and health performance, ensuring regulatory compliance and advocating for better public policy has been a great asset. I look forward to his continued contributions to AEP in his new role.”

From 2001 to 2005, Welch served as president and chief operating officer of Yankee Energy System, an operating subsidiary of Northeast Utilities (NU). A 20-year veteran of NU, Welch previously served as vice president of Environmental, Safety & Ethics, director of Environmental Health and Safety and manager of Occupational Safety at NU. Prior to joining NU, Welch held various positions at Stone & Webster Engineering.

Welch earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental, health and safety management from Indiana State University at Terre Haute and a master’s degree in business and human resource management from the Hartford Graduate Center of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He completed the Environmental Leadership Program at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

9/21/2011
APPALACHIAN POWER LAUNCHES ONLINE TOOL TO HELP CUSTOMERS
MANAGE ENERGY COSTS

Charleston, W. Va., September 21, 2011 – Appalachian Power has unveiled the Online Energy Checkup, an interactive tool that provides residential customers with information about their home’s energy use to help them better manage costs.

With the Online Energy Checkup, developed by Atlanta-based APOGEE Interactive, customers can evaluate how they use energy and ways they can save. Customers can estimate their energy use based on their own inputs and billing data. They receive printable reports with useful details about their home’s estimated energy consumption, seasonal factors, efficiency tips and approximate savings realized from making suggested improvements. Customers can take the Online Energy Checkup at appalachianpower.com/go/checkup.

“Most people want to be more energy efficient, but aren’t sure where to start. The Online Energy Checkup makes it easy for the average homeowner to pinpoint energy efficiency opportunities and better understand their energy costs right from their own computer,” said Tammy Stafford, demand side management /energy efficiency (DSM/EE) coordinator.

Appalachian Power is committed to helping customers save energy and reduce their energy costs. The Online Energy Checkup is just one of many energy- and money-saving programs offered by the utility. For more information, visit appalachianpower.com/save.

Appalachian Power has almost 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is a unit of American Electric Power, one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, which delivers electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765 kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined.

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CDFI Award Will Help SKED Offer Entrepreneurs New Skills 

SKED Executive Director Greg Jones, left, meets with Lincoln Manufacturing USA owners, Masato and Mayumi Sugimura. SKED helped recruit the company to Stanford in the 1990s and has worked with the business to expand several times, purchase equipment and create hundreds of jobs, using CDFI funding. SKED Executive Director Greg Jones, left, meets with Lincoln Manufacturing USA owners, Masato and Mayumi Sugimura. SKED helped recruit the company to Stanford in the 1990s and has worked with the business to expand several times, purchase equipment and create hundreds of jobs, using CDFI funding. SOMERSET, Ky. – Southeast Kentucky entrepreneurs have a new resource to learn skills that will ensure their small business dreams come true, thanks to Southeast Kentucky Economic Development (SKED) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. 
 

SKED was awarded $97,995 in funding from the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund this month. SKED will use the funding to provide one-on-one technical assistance to small business owners across the region.  
 

SKED is among 155 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) sharing $142.3 million. CDFIs serve economically distressed rural and urban communities across the nation. SKED serves 42 counties in Southeast Kentucky.
 

“Every community deserves to have access to basic financial products and services, from bank accounts to affordable home and car loans. The CDFI Program provides access to rural and urban communities across the country by investing in local financial institutions that serve these communities,” said Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin. “Today’s awards will provide much-needed capital to help community-based financial institutions offer products and services that would otherwise be out of reach for thousands of low-income Americans.”
SKED will use a portion of the $97,995 to hire a Small Business Training Specialist. This new specialist will work with entrepreneurs and established small business owners in organized classes and provide one-on-one follow-up and technical assistance services that will increase the management capability of the recipients; helping them to strengthen and grow their businesses.    
 

Since being designated a Community Development Financial Institution in 2001, SKED has made 51 loans from its CDFI loan fund. These loans total $8.2 million and have worked to create some 2,000 jobs.
 

SKED was formed 25 years ago by Fifth District Congressman Hal Rogers to create jobs in Southeast Kentucky. The economic development organization, based in Somerset, serves a 42-county region in Southeast Kentucky. Staff works with business owners, small and large, throughout its service area to identify financing solutions to fund their location, expansion and working capital needs.     

SKED’s diverse loan fund programs are an integral part of its job-creating mission and have played a vital role in attracting and retaining many businesses throughout the region. This funding will enable the Small Business Training Specialist to work with potential and current business owners to identify specific areas of concern and address those issues to ensure the business’ viability and potential for growth.

“This funding gives our staff of professionals the resources we need to continue to reach business owners across our service area and provide them with business ownership training services we believe will benefit them and their communities,” said Greg Jones, SKED executive director. “This funding from the U.S. Department of the Treasury will enhance our technical assistance capabilities and help promote future economic growth in Southeast Kentucky.”

For more information about SKED’s services, contact Jones at (606) 677-6102 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You may visit: www.southeastkentucky.com for more information about SKED’s services.

AEP Recognized For Seventh Time As One Of The Best Companies For Working Mothers

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Sept. 15, 2011 – American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) has been named one of the “100 Best Companies for Working Mothers” for the seventh time in 10 years by Working Mother magazine, a national publication targeting career-committed mothers.

AEP is the only central Ohio-based company and the only electric utility on the list, which appears in the magazine’s October edition.

The companies were chosen based on a 650-question survey addressing work schedule flexibility, work leave policies, child care, advancement of women, compensation and other work/life issues.

“It is part of AEP’s culture to support our employees with family-friendly benefits and programs to help them balance their careers and home lives,” said Michael G. Morris, AEP chairman and chief executive officer. “We are honored to again be recognized as one of the top companies for working mothers.”

Honored companies will be formally recognized during the annual Working Mother 100 Best Companies WorkLife Congress in New York Oct. 18-20.

AEP received the same recognition in 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2004 and 2002. Working Mother also selected AEP as one of the best companies for multicultural women for five straight years. In 2011, 2010 and 2007, AEP was recognized as one of the top 50 companies for executive women by the National Association for Female Executives, which is affiliated with Working Mother.

More information about Working Mother, including the list of the 100 best companies, is available at www.workingmother.com..

Kentucky Teleworks looking for workers;


Kentucky Teleworks, a service of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), is looking for experienced bookkeepers for an innovative work-from-home opportunity.

EKCEP, a Hazard-based non-profit organization with more than 40 years of workforce development experience, is accepting resumes for full charge bookkeepers who will work from their home computers for a Maryland-based bookkeeping company. Salaries for these jobs start at $34,000 a year.

The jobs are fully vetted and researched by EKCEP’s Kentucky Teleworks initiative, which links job seekers with work-from-home opportunities while working to attract telework-friendly industries to invest in Kentucky’s highly skilled and motivated workforce. EKCEP and its partner agencies routinely provide pre-screening and other related services for businesses.

“We feel that Kentucky is uniquely positioned to take full advantage of opportunities such as this,” said Joshua Ball, manager of Kentucky Teleworks. “Not only do we have the digital infrastructure in place, we also have a diverse workforce that prides itself on the traits that make a quality teleworker: working well independently, managing time wisely, multi-tasking, and other traits. This is a win-win for our workforce and www.accountingdepartment.com.”

The workers who are hired will be responsible for performing accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, and month-end closing services for clients via their home computer. They must be self-motivated and require minimal supervision, have excellent verbal and written communication skills, and have a strong ability to prioritize and multi-task clients' needs, Ball said.

Preferred candidates will have:

• Four or more years full charge bookkeeping experience.
• Experience providing A/R, A/P and payroll functions.
• Ability to handle heavy client contact and follow-up.
• Knowledge of QuickBooks software.
• Home office environment including a separate work area and PC (no laptops) with Windows XP or higher.
• Broadband internet access (DSL or Cable ONLY. Satellite is not acceptable.)
• A land-line telephone for talking with clients and company conference calls.
• Verification of child care arrangements, if applicable.

“These jobs pay well above average and offer the benefits of working from home, including flexibility, a better work/life balance, and no wear and tear to your vehicle or fuel costs,” Ball said,

“Additionally, these jobs bring instant economic development to the region,” he continued. “We are creating jobs that bring instant taxable revenues into our communities with no fiscal investment.”

Send resumes to Eastern Kentucky CEP, ATTN: BOOKKEEPER JOBS, at 941 N.
Main St., Hazard, KY, 41701. Or contact Josh at (606) 435-8498 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information about Kentucky Teleworks, visit www.facebook.com/kentuckyteleworks. And for more information about the services EKCEP makes available for businesses, call 606-436-5751 or visit www.ekcep.org.
AEP's Michael G. Morris Receives 'Distinguished Leadership Award' For Electric Power Sector Service
 
Edison Electric Institute news release

From Edison Electric Institute: NEW YORK (Sept. 7, 2011) – Michael G. Morris, chairman and CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power (AEP), today was awarded the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI’s) Distinguished Leadership Award by his industry peers for his 23 years of exemplary service as an electric utility chief executive.

“We take great pleasure in giving this award to Mike Morris, whose contributions to the industry have been nothing short of remarkable,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “His accomplishments throughout his career as a utility executive have left an indelible imprint on the sector, and his dedication to his shareholders and customers has never wavered.”

The award, established to recognize outstanding individual achievement, was presented during EEI’s fall Board of Directors meeting. Morris, who has announced his retirement as AEP’s CEO in November, is only the third executive to receive the award.

Noting that running one of the nation’s largest electric companies itself is an enormous undertaking – AEP serves about 5.3 million customers in 11 states and owns the country’s largest transmission system – Kuhn highlighted Morris’s contributions reaching far beyond the company’s service territory. “Mike deftly served as EEI chairman from 2005-2006, a period that coincided with enactment of the sweeping Energy Policy Act of 2005. Yet perhaps his greatest contribution to our sector stems directly from Mike’s solid temperament. He’ll always tell you what he thinks, and he isn’t one to mince words. But he is equally adept at seeking out common ground on difficult issues in a manner that keeps our industry together when it counts the most.”

John W. Rowe, chairman and CEO of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation, also past chairman of EEI and the first-ever recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award, said: "For 15 years, in two different companies, in more than a dozen states with very different agendas, Mike Morris has been an indefatigable spokesman – for his company and for our industry. He has honored our industry and richly deserves our highest recognition."

David M. Ratcliffe, former chairman, president and CEO of Atlanta-based Southern Company, past EEI chairman and second recipient of this award, said the following about his former colleague: "Mike has been a great friend and mentor and is one of this industry's truly outstanding leaders. Always knowledgeable and ready to engage, his passion and enthusiasm for this industry make him one of our most credible spokespersons. We are fortunate to have had his wisdom and leadership over many years and we are better for it. Thank you, Mike."

Morris joined AEP as chairman, president and chief executive officer Jan. 1, 2004. During his leadership of AEP, Morris has refocused the company on its domestic utility business and championed development of new technologies to reduce emissions from coal-fueled power generation, including operating the world’s first integrated carbon capture and sequestration project at a working coal-fueled power plant. Additionally, Morris has worked to advance development of an interstate, high-voltage transmission system in the United States to enhance grid reliability and efficiently transport bulk power.

Before joining AEP, Morris was chairman, president and CEO of Northeast Utilities System from 1997 to 2003, where he led the company during its sale of the Millstone Station nuclear plant, a merger with Yankee Energy System Inc., and the acquisition of Connecticut Valley Electric Co.

Morris also was president and CEO of Consumers Energy, principal subsidiary of CMS Energy, and president of CMS Marketing, Services and Trading. He also was president of Colorado Interstate Gas Co. and executive vice president of marketing, transportation and gas supply for ANR Pipeline Co., both subsidiaries of El Paso Energy. Additionally, Morris was the founder and president of ANR Gathering Co., one of the first gas marketing companies in the United States.

Morris is past chairman of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations. He also serves on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Board, the National Governors Association’s Task Force on Electricity Infrastructure, and the Business Roundtable (chairing the Business Roundtable's Sustainable Growth Initiative). Morris is chairman of the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation & Capitol South. He serves as a director of the boards of Alcoa, Battelle, and The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. He is past chairman of the board of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association and the Ohio Business Roundtable. He was recently reappointed to the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents and is a trustee of the MSU College of Law.

Born in Fremont, Ohio, Morris graduated from Eastern Michigan University with both bachelors and masters degrees in biology. He served on the Board of Regents at Eastern Michigan University from 1997-2004. In 1995, he received the university’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. During his graduate years, he was commander of the ROTC Brigade. After he graduated in 1973, he worked in the environmental department of Commonwealth Associates, where he prepared environmental impact statements for electrical utility transmission lines, natural gas and oil pipelines, and power plants.

Morris received a law degree, cum laude, from the Detroit College of Law and is a member of the Michigan Bar Association.

 

Cabinet for Economic Development Seeks Proposals that Promote

 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 6, 2011) – The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the purpose of awarding a minimum of $100,000 in competitive funding for energy efficiency projects to be implemented in for-profit industrial, commercial, manufacturing and warehousing facilities located in Kentucky.

The purpose of the grant funding is to accelerate energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Kentucky’s industrial sector while also creating and retaining jobs.  The funding will help achieve the goals set by Governor Steve Beshear’s Intelligent Energy Choices for Kentucky’s Future: Kentucky’s 7-Point Energy Strategy.

The RFP seeks energy efficiency projects with a minimum investment of $50,000 that can be initiated and completed between November 2011 and March 2012.  Special focus areas include lighting retrofits, HVAC and steam plant upgrades and water treatment facility upgrades.

The Cabinet will select applicants through a competitive process.  Proposals will be evaluated on jobs created/retained; amount of energy saved per grant dollar invested; local community impact; private dollar match/leverage of grant funds; and other important factors.  Selected applicants will be required to showcase their projects and develop case studies to highlight the benefits of the project.

Awards are made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), through the U.S. Department of Energy, as part of the Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence’s State Energy Program.  The Cabinet for Economic Development previously awarded ARRA funding for eight energy efficiency/renewable energy projects in 2010 totaling approximately $4.3 million.

“While some of the previously selected projects are still under construction, there already have been impressive results from three completed lighting retrofit projects, including Florida Tile in Lawrenceburg, GE Aviation in Madisonville and Montaplast in Frankfort,” said Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes. “The Cabinet for Economic Development, in partnership with the Energy and Environment Cabinet, is committed to growing a sustainable economy in Kentucky through smart energy and environmental initiatives.”

Case studies about these projects can be found at the following links:

Montaplast:www.ThinkKentucky.com/kyedc/pdfs/Montaplastcasestudy.pdf

Florida Tile:www.ThinkKentucky.com/kyedc/pdfs/FloridaTilecasestudy.pdf

GE Aviation:www.ThinkKentucky.com/kyedc/pdfs/GEMadisonvillecasestudy.pdf

RFP documents containing more detailed information regarding this funding opportunity can be obtained on the state’s procurement website athttps://emars.ky.gov/online/vss/Advantage (click on the View Solicitation heading and select Industrial Facility Retrofit Showcase, solicitation number RFP-635-1200000063).  Proposals are due no later than Sept. 30, 2011 at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Educational Opportunities

The Governor’s Conference on Energy & the Environment, to be held in Lexington on Sept. 26-27, 2011, is an opportunity for businesses to learn how to be good environmental stewards while also positively impacting their bottom line.  Another opportunity will occur on Nov. 2, 2011, at the University of Kentucky’s Corporate Sustainability Workshop.  Additional information on these two events, as well as other related training opportunities, can be found athttp://energy.ky.gov/newsevents/Pages/events.aspx.

Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook atwww.Facebook.com/ThinkKentucky or follow on Twitter atwww.Twitter.com/ThinkKentucky.

 

Agritourism on display at Warren orchard;


There was an underlying reason why Tonya Johnson braved the heat Saturday to visit Jackson’s Orchard in Bowling Green, and it had nothing to do with the playground or fresh fruits.

“We can leave if we want to without buying anything,” said Johnson, of Brownsville.

While the national and state economy suffers with high unemployment rates and few new jobs, one area thrives: agritourism.

Benjamin Komoll (from left), 4, his sister, Norah, 6, both of Hendersonville, Tenn., and Hayden Ollman, 3, of Fishers, Ind., race down the Cider Slide on Saturday during the 30th annual AppleFest at Jackson's Orchard.Benjamin Komoll (from left), 4, his sister, Norah, 6, both of Hendersonville, Tenn., and Hayden Ollman, 3, of Fishers, Ind., race down the Cider Slide on Saturday during the 30th annual AppleFest at Jackson's Orchard.At least that’s the case for Bill Jackson, whose orchard has taken a hit from hot weather but has experienced an upswing in tourists despite a sour economy. Even in the midst of sweltering temperatures, people made their way to the orchard Saturday for the 30th annual AppleFest, an event to kick off the fall season.

“We’ve had a very difficult summer due to the weather,” Jackson said. But, in terms of tourism, “we’ve had one of the best summers we’ve ever had.”

Agritourism - a business, typically a farm, that turns agriculture into a tourist attraction - is a growing part of the agriculture economy, and it’s an important way to connect the urban population with its food source, Jackson said.

On a state level, the General Assembly has promoted agritourism, said state Rep. Jim DeCesare, R-Bowling Green, who attended Saturday’s event.

“We’re an agriculture state, and it’s incumbent on us to make sure we give them the tools they need to succeed and be productive,” he said.

Those tools include the Kentucky Proud Program, which promotes locally grown produce and puts those items in retail stores across the state.

Agritourism has boomed over the past few years, mainly because the public is realizing the importance of fresh, locally produced foods, said state Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, who also was on hand Saturday.

“People have been out of touch generally about where their food comes from and there’s new interest in nutrition and homegrown foods,” he said. “It’s important to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas.”

Williams supported a separate legislative committee on agriculture, he said, which has tackled issues related to agriculture - a major part of the state’s economy.

“It gives us a lot of opportunities to look at the different aspects of agriculture,” he said.

The latest figures from April 2009 show that Kentucky farms were responsible for 680,000 jobs throughout the state, according to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

Still, the nation is reeling from recent reports that show high unemployment and a lack of new jobs over the past couple of years.

Statewide, the most recent unemployment rate was at 9.6 percent in July, with the national jobless rate at 9.3 percent that month. That means nearly 14.5 million people in the United States - and more than 204,000 in Kentucky - filed for unemployment benefits that month.

The nation’s unemployment rate slightly declined to 9.1 percent in August. Those statistics do not represent unemployed people who do not claim benefits.

Williams, who is running for governor, claims he has a solution to the state’s economic woes. Officials need to attract more businesses and add value to Kentucky’s raw products.

The best way to accomplish that, Williams said, is to change the state tax structure, eliminating income taxes on individuals and businesses and clearing the way for businesses to make more money and prosper.

“That will create growth in the state,” he said.

But trendy items, a family atmosphere and inexpensive products have worked for agritourism entrepreneurs, such as Jackson.

Many people, such as Ramona Bradshaw of Independence, don’t let a poor economy deter them from visiting Jackson’s Orchard.

“If we decided we wanted to come and it’s within our reach, then we’d come,” Bradshaw said. “We don’t do things if we don’t have the money for them.”

By JENNA MINK
The Daily News, Bowling Green

 

August 30, 2011

Energy Star Now Available for New Multifamily High-Rise Buildings

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that new multifamily high-rise residential buildings are now eligible to qualify as Energy Star. Expanding the Energy Star eligibility to such properties will not only help EPA strengthen energy-efficiency initiatives, across the nation, which save money and help protect the environment, but also provide property owners the opportunity to increase the asset value and offer tenants comfortable homes.

To qualify for Energy Star, new or substantially rehabilitated multifamily high-rise buildings must meet energy-efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and be designed to be at least 15 percent more energy-efficient than buildings that meet the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers energy use standard. Qualified buildings feature a combination of energy–efficient improvements including:

·         Effective insulation systems
·         Properly sized heating and cooling equipment
·         Tight construction and ducts
·         Energy Star qualified lighting and appliances
·         High–performance windows

An independently licensed professional engineer or architect is required to verify that the program’s requirements are met through on-site testing and inspections conducted throughout the construction process. In the past, only single family homes and units in low-rise multifamily buildings were eligible to earn the Energy Star.

Energy Star was started by EPA in 1992 as a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy-efficiency. Today, the Energy Star label can be found on more than 60 different kinds of products as well as new homes and commercial and industrial buildings that meet strict energy-efficiency specifications set by EPA. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved about $18 billion on their energy bills while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the annual emissions of 33 million vehicles.

More information on Energy Star qualified multifamily high-rise buildings: http://www.energystar.gov/mfhr

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State to leverage nearly $155 million in small business loans

From the KPA News Content Service

LEXINGTON – Gov. Steve Beshear Monday announced a major small business initiative that will provide Kentucky’s small businesses with access to nearly $155 million in new loans to help with job creation across the state.

The Kentucky Small Business Credit Initiative involves three new small business programs implemented by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development to facilitate increased private lending to Kentucky’s small businesses. The programs include: the Kentucky Capital Access Program; the Kentucky Collateral Support Program and the Kentucky Loan Participation Program.

Beshear announced the initiative at the Coldstream Center, part of the University of Kentucky’s Coldstream Research Campus, in Lexington with lawmakers, business leaders and United States Treasurer Rosie Rios. The Coldstream Center houses 25 small businesses with more than 300 employees. Several of these businesses are recipients of federal small business grants.

“We want all of our families working, and we know small businesses are incubators for new jobs in our state," Beshear said. "The small business credit initiative gives these small businesses an easier path to create those new positions. Economic development officials and business leaders deserve credit for working closely to establish the overall program.”

The increased access to capital stems from the state’s successful application for nearly $15.5 million in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Treasury through the State Small Business Credit Initiative. The funds, which will be leveraged 10-1 with private lender funds to generate almost $155 million, are part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 passed in September 2010.

Under the Small Business Jobs Act, Kentucky can access $15.5 million in SSBCI funds. Kentucky expects to generate a minimum “bang for the buck” of at least $10 in new private lending for every $1 in federal funding. As such, this $15.5 million allocation for Kentucky is expected to support nearly $155 million in new private lending to small businesses in that state.

Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Larry Hayes filed the application on behalf of the Commonwealth. In planning the program, cabinet staff consulted with private lenders of all sizes, public-policy makers, Kentucky small business organizations, U.S. Department of Treasury officials and other states’ economic development officials.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA), a board established within the cabinet, has been designated to accept the $15.5 in funds and administer the new credit support programs.

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