Rusty Satellite — Politically Speaking with Marc Murphy; Allie Martin’s Path to Fame and Fortune Friday, Nov 22 2019 

Allie Martin

The Rusty Satellite adventure this week took me downtown, where I met two more of the most interesting people in the ‘Ville.

The Story Louisville HQ on Main Street has become one of my favorite spots, because inside you find some of the most energetic and fascinating people doing some really innovative things. For example, when a scheduled interview fell through at the last minute, I was able to meet and talk with Allie Martin. The entrepreneur and I had much in common – we both were involved in a morning TV show a decade ago, we are graduates of WKU, we do regular podcasts and both of us were spurred into doing our own thing when corporate America said our services we no longer required.  Today Allie runs her own branding/PR business, runs a podcast about spa-life, and recently appeared on the Rachael Ray show.

Marc Murphy

Because I love his cartoons and point-of-view, Marc Murphy is one of the first people I think of when it comes to local politics. So I called him up to talk about the fallout from the recent election. As I’ve said, Marc noted that Matt Bevin lost not because Kentucky has turned into a blue state, but because he’s such an (yes, he said this) asshole. Murphy used to work alongside Andy Beshear at Stites and Harbison, and has a positive outlook on the next administration. And you’ll want to listen to who he things has the best chance to beat Mitch McConnell next year.

Some Rusty alumni were in the news this week —  Brandon Coan said he’s not running again for his Highlands seat on the Metro Council; Tim Laird, America’s Chief Entertainment Officer, is retiring after 25 years at Brown-Forman, and seven former Rusty guests are on the star-studded Beshear transition team. Local government couldn’t have screwed up any worse in its handling of local golf courses, as Barry Bonifield at Crescent Hill became the third local pro to resign while the Mayor and Metro Council do nothing.

The city’s longest-running podcast come to you from the ReMax Properties East studio in the East End. If you’re considering a new home purchase, remember that interest rates remain very low and it’s still a great time to buy. Call me at 502-439-6391 and I’ll help you find a new home. The show is sponsored by my friends at the Eye Care Institute and Heuser Health.

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U of L will be part of the new hub for healthcare innovations in Kentucky Monday, Nov 4 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville and University of Kentucky received a $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to improve healthcare technologies Oct. 31. This grant will be used to form a Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub, which includes all eight of Kentucky’s public universities along with Kentucky Community and Technical Colleges System.

“One of the things to keep in mind is that the health care sector here in Kentucky privately employs over 30,000 of our fellow citizens,” said interim secretary for the Cabinet for Economic Development Vivek Sarin. “It’s one of the top sectors driving our total economy.”

The hub will be called the “Kentucky Network for Innovation & Commercialization,” or KYNETIC, and is one of five hubs funded by the NIH. The hub is designed to speed up the translation of biomedical discoveries into commercially viable diagnostics, devices, therapeutics and tools to improve patient care and enhance health, according to the NIH.

“This is not a trick but a great treat for every single person in the Commonwealth,” said President Neeli Bendapudi. “This will provide innovation to improve the health of Kentuckians and people around the world.”

According to NIH, selected hubs are required to match the federal funding they receive and develop partnerships with life science and economic development organizations. The KYNETIC founding members will provide a $2.56 million direct-cost match to help with the funding.

Each university involved will also partner with the Commonwealth Commercialization Center (C3), a science and technology nonprofit that supports invention and entrepreneurship across the state.

“Kentucky’s ability to win this grant — one of only a handful ever awarded nationwide — was made possible in large part because of the unprecedented collaboration between our economic development cabinet, public universities and technical colleges in creating our non-profit commercialization center, C3,” Gov. Matt Bevin said. “This grant further validates the significance of C3’s public-private structure and our decision to revitalize Kentucky’s innovation and entrepreneurial support system. Together, we can have a truly positive impact on the health of Kentuckians and people around the world.”

KYNETIC aims to bring innovations such as new pharmaceuticals, therapies, devices and other healthcare technologies to the market. They also aim to address issues like lack of healthcare in rural areas.

This new hub will also be an asset in expanding U of L Health’s current research and medical developments.

“With the acquisition of Jewish Hospital and other KentuckyOne Health properties, researchers at U of L will have additional opportunities to recruit patients for clinical studies to advance research emerging from KYNETIC,” said Bendapudi. “Projects developed through KYNETIC will have the potential to further existing U of L research efforts in optimal aging, improve access to quality health care in underserved urban and rural regions, and bolster efforts to both attract and retain top faculty and students at U of L.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L trustee Nitin Sahney resigns from board Sunday, Sep 22 2019 

By Matthew Keck–

Founder and CEO of PharmaCord Nitin Shaney officially resigned from the University of Louisville’s board of trustees. He submitted his resignation from the board in early September.

U of L spokesperson John Karman confirmed that Sahney did resign Sept. 13.

Sahney’s term on the board was set to expire on Jan. 13, 2021, but chose to end his term sooner. He was initially appointed to the board in 2016 when Gov. Matt Bevin overhauled the entire board.

As a board member Sahney was involved with major decisions including the hiring of now President Neeli Bendapudi. This was a decision made by the trustees that has been well received unanimously.

He was also involved in the chaos that revolved around the firing of Tom Jurich. This ended with U of L reaching a multimillion dollar settlement with Jurich over his termination.

Before serving as a trustee Sahney was the president and CEO of Omnicare Inc., a former Fortune 500 company that deals with long-term care and specialty industries.

There has been no official reason announced as to why Sahney resigned from the board. Sahney was not available for further comment at the time.

Photo Courtesy of University of Louisville

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SOAR At Six: Group’s Lofty Goals For Coal Country Meet Challenges On The Ground Monday, Sep 16 2019 

In a conference hall in Pikeville, Kentucky, this September, Gov. Matt Bevin led an eager audience in a countdown. When the audience reached “One!,” a map on the screen behind the governor lit up with the promise of a high-tech future.

After years of delay and scandal, major portions of the commonwealth’s “middle mile” of high-speed internet were complete.

“There are so many negative haters, so many people who pooh-pooh things and say this can’t happen, it’s not possible,” Bevin told the crowd. “But I’ll tell you what. We’ve never quit.”

Sydney Boles | Ohio Valley ReSource

Rep. Hal Rogers and Gov. Matt Bevin announce the completion of east Kentucky’s “middle mile” of high-speed internet.

The event was the annual summit of a group called Shaping Our Appalachian Region, or SOAR, founded in 2013 to help guide the flagging counties of Appalachian Kentucky into a new, post-coal economy.

SOAR leaders have largely emphasized improved internet service and increased industrial development. But despite the organization’s recent progress, local development officials struggle to fill vacant industrial parks, large areas still lack high-speed internet, and many coalfield residents remain unconvinced that the organization holds the key to a new future.

Limited Scope

SOAR began in the winter of 2013, when 1,700 east Kentucky business leaders, elected officials, agency heads and concerned citizens gathered in that same Pikeville conference center to hatch a bold new agenda. With 27 percent of east Kentucky coal mining jobs lost in just one year and no turnaround on the horizon, the only option was to chart a new path towards a more diverse central Appalachian economy.

Community leaders fanned out across the 54 counties comprising Appalachian Kentucky. They held listening sessions with thousands of Kentuckians and turned in recommendations that included items like involving incarcerated people in community gardens, supporting local artists, and identifying hotspots of air and water pollution resulting from coal mining.

The effort was bipartisan, spearheaded by east Kentucky’s longtime congressman, Republican Hal Rogers, and Democratic former governor Steve Beshear.

The Rural Policy Research Institute said of the inaugural summit, “Everyone there knew the region was ready to respond to the urgency of the moment with a renewed commitment to working in greater unison, toward a preferred future.”

But when SOAR’s leaders turned the working groups’ recommendations into a blueprint for the organization, working group members found them somewhat changed. The organization would start by championing KentuckyWired, the commonwealth’s fiber-optic internet system, and then, with that critical 21st-century infrastructure in place, it would go full throttle on improving health outcomes, developing a tech-savvy workforce, and germinating growth in the region’s industrial and small-business ecosystem.  As Congressman Rogers put it in 2019, the focus was “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Sydney Boles | Ohio Valley ReSource

Joyce Pinson of Friends Drift Inn Kitchen displays jams and jellies.

But KentuckyWired quickly became mired as costs ballooned and its timeline extended. As most of the eastern Kentucky lagged behind the rest of the country in access to internet, communities continued to struggle to retain residents and build a sustainable economy.

“[SOAR] started as a really great idea, where they were seeking a lot of input from a lot of different people,” said Ivy Brashear, Appalachian Transition Coordinator for MACED, an economic development organization that was involved in SOAR’s early working groups, but has since stepped back. “Over time it has shifted into their approach being outside investment and industrial recruitment,” she said.

Brashear pointed to a recent solar energy project MACED had financed, which helped four Letcher County groups adopt solar energy.

“We believe that shifting the way that energy works is a big deal, and it matters to communities, it matters to them saving money, it matters to what they then are able to do with the money they saved. And what we see in places where we’ve helped people transition to solar is, it can be the difference between them staying open and them closing their doors.”

SOAR officials did not return a request for comment, but its principals told the Lexington Herald-Leader last year that its objectives were long-term, and it had been successful in building connections across eastern Kentucky.

The crowd at SOAR’s sixth conference was a bit thinner – about 800, according to executive director Jared Arnett. The event featured a start-up pitch competition and 92 booths running the gambit from addiction recovery programs to an international drone port. Highly produced videos touted projects conceived of and championed by SOAR, projects like the high-tech greenhouse AppHarvest, and teleworks operation Digital Careers Now.

Sydney Boles | Ohio Valley ReSource

Kentucky entrepreneurs show their products at the 2019 SOAR Summit.

Infrastructure And Industry

Some working at the ground level see a long way to go to meet SOAR’s goals.

“There’s tremendous opportunity that people can take advantage of with our workforce down here, and they don’t realize that,” said Bill McIntosh, who worked as a coal miner for 40 years before taking a grant-funded position as Perry County’s economic development coordinator. Part of his job is luring new businesses to the 236-acre Coalfield Industrial Park that Perry County shares with four nearby counties. Like other industrial parks in the region, this one was built on reclaimed surface mines in the hopes of attracting new businesses to a region desperate for a new source of employment.

McIntosh lamented that as more mine land across the region has been turned into build-ready land, companies have their pick of locations, and businesses he hopes to bring to the industrial park often find one thing or another to make them decide against it.

Siting industrial parks on mine land brings its own challenges. “Sometimes it is remote in that it doesn’t have gas, or it doesn’t have broadband or it doesn’t have rail,” McIntosh said. “That’s going to disqualify you as far as having your site selected for a company to come in and set up shop.”

Part of McIntosh’s job, he said, is shifting outsiders’ perceptions of who Appalachians are. “A lot of people are still seeing negative stereotypes: poverty-stricken area, uneducated workforce. That’s not true,” he said. “The major population group in our workforce, [people aged] 45-64, these are people that come from a industrial background. They can easily be cross-trained in other sectors of industry.”

Perry County’s Coalfields Industrial Park is currently home to a FedEx distribution facility, a trucking company, and a call center that is known for its frequent layoffs. A potential new development was recently announced for the industrial park, an aluminum company that could employ as many as 265 people once it’s up and running. The community in 2018 received nearly a million dollars to bring natural gas to the industrial park.

Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

The focus on industrial growth hints, too, at an unstable future for the region. A recent Brookings Institution report found that manufacturing sector jobs are among the most vulnerable to automation. With other job losses likely in food service and transportation sectors, it is projected that the Ohio Valley could lose about one quarter of its jobs to automation. Some counties in the SOAR region could lose up to 65 percent of their jobs.

MACED’s Brashear said the region’s transition would require work on multiple fronts, but she worried about focusing too heavily on industrial development. “I think our history shows that that doesn’t necessarily work, it doesn’t necessarily build a sustainable economy that isn’t trying to figure it out every 10 years or so.”

Wired For Growth

Broadband access is a challenge across the Ohio Valley. The internet provider data service BroadbandNow estimates that 7% of Ohioans, 9% of Kentuckians, and 22% of West Virginians lack the critical 21st-century infrastructure. Those figures mark an improvement from just a few years ago. In 2017, for example nearly 20% of Kentucky homes lacked broadband service.

Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

SOAR officials hope that reliable, fast internet will help the region retain its workforce and compete for high-tech industries. In fact, SOAR was a part of early conversations about a statewide broadband network, for which bids were solicited in the summer of 2014. The Kentucky Communications Network Authority, a government agency, would spearhead the construction of 3,000 miles of fiber-optic cable, a “middle mile” that would bring high-speed internet to government offices and other key buildings, and would allow private internet service providers to hook in, for a price, to bring wireless internet to businesses and communities across the region.

Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

But the “last mile” to connect rural, dispersed homes and businesses, is still a challenge. KCNA interim executive director Deck Decker says residents may have to wait anywhere from six months to several years before broadband is available in their homes and businesses.

“We’re going to try to get in local civic leaders, business leaders, we’re going to get in a room and start discussing this last mile and see who has the best plan,” Decker told a small crowd at the SOAR summit. “I don’t think anybody in this room will tell you they’ve got a magic bullet that’s just going to automatically make the last mile appear in, you know, Harlan County, but we’re going to give it our best,” he said.

Decker said each community would need to find the best way for it to make use of the fiber-optic network, whether it be a private company, a public investment, or a public-private partnership. But the investment will likely be a hurdle for rural counties with far-flung communities.

“I’ve had major providers sit in my office and say, if they can’t get a payback on their investment in 18 months, they can’t do it, because they can’t build a business case for it,” Lonnie Lawson said. Lawson is a KentuckyWired board member and CEO of the Center for Rural Development. He hopes to provide some seed money to help internet service providers justify the investment expense.

Lawson said he hopes the network will allow more Kentuckians to work from home or in high-tech careers, and will help Kentucky students complete digital homework in their own homes.

“It’s about the only solution of trying to keep our best and brightest in the region,” Lawson said. “Otherwise, if we don’t have job opportunities, then our young people are going to leave, and our region is going to suffer year, after year, after year.”

Moody’s report: Kentucky’s new pension law ‘credit negative’ for state Monday, Aug 5 2019 

Moody’s Investors Service has issued a report calling the new pension legislation passed by the Kentucky General Assembly two weeks ago “credit negative” for the state, as it pushes public pension costs into the future and increases the chances that the state will be responsible for a larger share of its worst-funded pension plan. On […]

Bevin: Marijuana legalization leads to spike in homelessness, ER visits and ‘disease’ Thursday, Aug 1 2019 

Governor Matt Bevin in a radio interview Wednesday repeated his criticism of those who favor legalizing marijuana and casinos in Kentucky to directed additional tax revenue toward the state’s underfunded pension system, adding that recreational marijuana would lead to an increase in homelessness, emergency room visits and “disease.” Bevin made the comments about marijuana on […]

Republican Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville endorses Beshear over Bevin Monday, Jul 29 2019 

Screenshot of tweeted video in which state Sen. Dan Seum, R-Louisville, announcing his endorsement of Attorney General Andy Beshear

Republican state Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville broke ranks with his party Monday morning by announcing that he is endorsing Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear in the race for governor over Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin. In a video tweeted by Beshear’s campaign, Seum endorsed Beshear and blasted Bevin for insulting teachers around the state. […]

Bevin, Beshear clash in gubernatorial candidate forum Wednesday, Jul 17 2019 

Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear faced off in the Kentucky Farm Bureau gubernatorial candidate forum.

The Kentucky Farm Bureau hosted a forum for gubernatorial candidates Matt Bevin and Andy Beshear on Wednesday, where the two rivals weighed in on various agricultural and rural issues, but mostly stuck to the familiar themes and attacks on each other that have defined their campaigns. In his opening statement, Attorney General Andy Beshear contrasted […]

Bevin touts proposed bill to outlaw ‘sanctuary cities’ in Kentucky Friday, Jul 12 2019 

Gov. Matt Bevin (left) and state Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, touted a proposed bill to define and outlaw "sanctuary cities" in Kentucky.

Gov. Matt Bevin touted a proposed bill in a news conference on Friday that would define what constitutes a “sanctuary city” for undocumented immigrants in the state and prohibit any local government entity from instituting policies limiting law enforcement from asking an individual about their immigration status and cooperating with federal immigration officials. Though Bevin […]

Corinne Ellis Our New Hero! Tuesday, Aug 29 2017 

Corinne Ellis email reply to Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin: “Do not ever fucking email me again.” … Continue reading →

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