September 22, 2021

Craft Distilleries Are More Numerous Than Ever. The Pandemic Looks To Have Helped.

GETHSEMANE, KY. – Conditions last year could hardly have looked worse for craft distilling in Kentucky or any other state. Built on the intimacy of locally-produced spirits, virtually all of the more than 2,000 craft distilleries that operated around the country were imperiled by state health directives that closed tasting rooms.  Yet while the virus produced financial pain, it did not lead to many distillery deaths. Federal pandemic-related aid, consumer demand, important changes in state …

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Kentucky Coal Fields Display How Hard It Is To Redevelop Rural America

PAINTSVILLE, KY. – On April 23, 12 weeks after President Joe Biden signed an executive order that promised to help rural regions of the East and Great Plains move past their dependence on fossil energy markets, the administration identified $37.9 billion in existing federal grant and loan accounts to meet the president’s job creation and revitalization goals.   One of those accounts, administered since 2016 by the Department of the Interior, helped start a high-tech manufacturing …

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Covid-19 Vaccination Day in Kentucky

CORBIN, Kentucky — As of today, March 10, 2021, Kentucky has administered almost 900,000 Covid-19 vaccinations. The United States has administered more than 62 million vaccinations. I was one of them. It was a historic day of sorts. Almost exactly to the day a year ago the full measure of the pandemic’s risk took hold in the country. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver shut down the league. Former President Trump — “The virus will not have …

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Amazon Air Fills Skies and Airports With Packages

HEBRON, Ky. – Since the pandemic started nearly a year ago, 15,000 fewer people arrive and depart daily from CVG, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Yet the 60 percent drop in passenger traffic is not nearly so apparent on the four runways, miles of taxiways, and hundreds of acres of concrete apron handling record amounts of air cargo — nearly 4,000 tons a day.  Ranked by the Federal Aviation Administration as the nation’s sixth largest cargo …

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In Louisville, Covid-19 Slows Portland Neighborhood Recovery

LOUSVILLE, Ky. — Until the Covid-19 pandemic, Gill Holland spent six years and $35 million constructing new residences and renovating 19thand 20thcentury wood and brick warehouses in Portland, an historic Ohio riverfront neighborhood that is Louisville’s oldest and one of its most impoverished.  Mr. Holland’s Portland Investment Initiative has purchased over 60 properties and filled them with businesses and residents new to the racially diverse neighborhood, where roughly 10,000 people live.  The project has renovated …

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The Ohio River Again At Center of Seminal Industrial Transition

SOMERSET, KY — Ever since I reported and completed a project to suggest a new development strategy for Owensboro, KY. — and met and married one of the city’s great and beautiful civic leaders –I’ve been fascinated by the evolution of the Ohio River Valley. See a ModeShift archive here. Every economic era in American history opened along the river’s banks. Most of those that closed also weakened and died on a river that stretches …

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Gabrielle Gray’s Last ROMP

OWENSBORO, KY. — Around noon on the last Saturday of Gabrielle Gray’s long run as the founder and director of ROMP, this Ohio River City’s signature bluegrass music festival, a moment of pure love and remembrance unfolded unexpectedly. Standing alone on the festival stage with her fiddle, Phoebe Hunt, one of the singularly great young artists that ROMP has featured in the last several years, prepared to open her set as a solo. A striking …

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Owensboro Will Build International Bluegrass Music Center

In the week that America expressed its disdain for Indiana’s spiteful political fanaticism, and its new “religious freedom” statute that would allow business owners to discriminate against gays and lesbians, comes a much more responsible story of what’s possible in public policy. On April 1, Kentucky Democratic Governor Steve Beshear teamed up with Owensboro Republican Mayor Ron Payne to advance the economic and artistic interests of the mid-size Ohio River city. The two found a …

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Dream Big — Why Ohio River Valley Resurgence is Nationally and Globally Significant

OWENSBORO, KY — More than three years ago, while writing a study that suggested several new 21st century development ideas for this old river city, I discovered the mysteries of the Ohio River Valley. The region’s natural beauty is immediately striking. The recovering economies of cities and counties, once described as the Rust Belt, impress me. The unexpected governing approaches — cities passing new taxes as a development tool, and seeking consolidation with their surrounding …

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