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Japanese metalworking company plans to open facility in Corbin

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com
FRANKFORT — A Japanese metalworking company is to open its first North American plant in Corbin, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Monday at a Capitol news conference.
Kowa Kogyosho Co., based in Nagoya, Japan, plans to create 30 jobs by April 2018 and invest $8.3 million into the project at the Corbin Regional Speculative building in the city’s Southeast Kentucky Business Park.
It will provide metal surface treatment for automotive suppliers, through a highly advanced process known as electroless nickel plating.
“Kentucky welcomes Kowa as its newest corporate citizen, one that will significantly enrich the southeastern Kentucky region as well as the entire state,” Beshear said with several Kowa and state and local officials.
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority has preliminarily approved tax incentives of up to $600,000 for the company through the Kentucky Business Investment program.
The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the term of the agreement through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
The finance authority also approved the company for tax benefits up to $50,000 through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act. It allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on constructions cots, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing equipment.
Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes said Kowa Kentucky Inc. will have to meet certain standards to get the incentives but he said all of them – like wages paid – have not yet been determined.
He said Kowa wants “to grow their business in the United States.”
The company hopes to begin commercial production in January 2016 with about 10 employees and then grow.
Company officials stressed that it is a clean company and will cause no pollution.
Knox County Judge-Executive J.M. Hall, Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney and Bruce Carpenter, executive director of the Corbin Economic Development Agency, said they welcome Kowa to southeast Kentucky.
The area is hungry for jobs. The unemployment rate in Knox County is 10.7 percent.
Toshio Muguruma, president of Kowa Kogyosho Co., Ltd., said the company was looking in the Knoxville, Tenn., area to build its first North American plant and selected Corbin.

Beshear will lead trade mission to United Kingdom in May

Gov. Steve Beshear

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear will lead a Kentucky Export Initiative trade mission May 11-16 to the United Kingdom, Kentucky’s third largest export destination.

A release Wednesday from the governor’s office said the trip will focus on increasing commerce, promoting travel and tourism, and building business relationships between Kentucky and the United Kingdom.

The KEI delegation will make stops in England in London and Manchester.

“We do a tremendous amount of business with the UK, exporting more than a billion dollars in products and services a year, but there is plenty of room to grow,” said Beshear. “This trade mission will give Kentucky businesses the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings, build relationships to increase sales and explore one of Europe’s most established markets.”

Beshear vetoes parts of budget and transportation bills

Gov. Steve Beshear

UPDATED AT 7:45 P.M.

By Beth Musgrave and Jack Brammer – bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed 19 provisions in the state budget lawmakers approved late last week, including a provision that would cut the salary of Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes by more than $120,000 a year.

The governor also vetoed provisions that would protect federally-funded state employees from being furloughed and deleted the legislature’s mandated changes to the state employees’ health insurance plan.

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said they needed time to review the vetoes before commenting on them. Lawmakers do not have the ability to override Beshear’s vetoes since the General Assembly adjourned its special legislative session to approve the budget on May 29.

In general, Beshear said his line-item vetoes were necessary because the provisions restricted his ability to implement spending cuts mandated by the two-year spending plan, which calls for cuts of 3.5 percent in the first year and 4.5 percent in the second year for most state agencies. Without those cuts, the state faced a projected shortfall of nearly $1.5 billion over the next two years.

“My administration must have maximum flexibility to manage state government through these extremely difficult times, while continuing to provide essential services to our people,” he said in a news release.

House budget would slash salary of economic development chief

Larry Hayes

By Beth Musgrave – bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A little-noticed provision in the state House’s proposed budget would nearly cut in half the $250,000 salary of the state’s chief economic development officer.

The House on Wednesday passed a two-year, $17.5 billion budget that included a host of cost-saving provisions, including cutting the amount spent on service contracts by more than $100 million and saving $5 million by axing 120 political appointees over the next two years.

But deep in the budget is another provision that would cap the salary of Larry Hayes, the secretary of the Economic Development Cabinet. Hayes, who makes $250,000 a year according to the state’s transparency Web site, is the highest paid cabinet secretary.

The House budget says the Economic Development Secretary’s salary should not surpass the governor’s salary of $127,885.

Both Hayes and Beshear took 10 percent pay cuts this year.

Beshear plans trade mission to Japan, China

Gov. Steve Beshear

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear, first lady Jane Beshear and Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes will leave Saturday for a seven-day trade mission to Japan and China.

The trip will mark the second visit by the governor to Japan and his first visit to China as governor.

“Our national and state economy continues to face significant challenges, even as we are seeing important glimmers of hope,” Beshear said in a statement.

“I will go wherever I need to go – whether it’s around the block or around the globe – to aggressively court and recruit high-paying jobs to Kentucky, the kind of jobs that will accelerate our economic recovery.”

Beshear reshuffles top positions in his administration

FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear appointed Cabinet Secretary Larry Hayes to be secretary of the state Economic Development Cabinet at $250,000 a year and named state budget director Mary Lassiter to replace Hayes as cabinet secretary.

Lassiter also will retain the position of budget director and make about $150,000 a year.

Beshear announced the personnel moves in news releases from his office.