Tom Martin Q&A: Promise Zone investing in future of Eastern Kentucky

Eastern Kentucky needs help: Coal jobs are disappearing. People are leaving the region. Some counties are among the poorest in the entire country. President Barack Obama has identified eight Eastern Kentucky counties as one of the first rural regions to benefit from the administration’s Promise Zone program. The initiative partners federal agencies with local communities and businesses with the aim of creating jobs, improving educational opportunities, building private investment and improving public safety. This process is being coordinated and managed by Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp,. of which Jerry Rickett is president and CEO. He shared details with Tom Martin.

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Commerce Lexington’s top issues include education, local-option sales tax

Education, economic development, energy and environment, health care, competitiveness, tax policy. These are the focus issues of Commerce Lexington’s 2015 local, state and national public policy agenda. Tom Martin’s conversation with the chamber’s public policy committee chair Carla Blanton deals mostly with matters before the 2015 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

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Students in Promise Zone to benefit from grants

Local students are already benefiting from the Promise Zone, which is less than a year old. In September alone, Promise Zone partners and local schools were awarded more than $44.7 million in grants for several key projects to support a college-going culture and mental health initiatives.

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Hunt Morgan and Bodley Bullock homes celebrate 200 years with bluegrass, bourbon and BBQ

Two hundred years ago, building around Gratz Park was booming. So much so that the two houses that bookend the park — the Hunt Morgan House at 201 North Mill Street and the Bodley-Bullock House at 299 Market Street — are celebrating their bicentennial this year.

To commemorate the anniversary, the Bluegrass Trust for Historic Preservation, which operates the Hunt Morgan House as a museum, and the Junior League, which has its headquarters in the Bodley-Bullock House, are collaborating on an event.

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Downtown needs a management district

by Mukang Cho

Before we make an investment in real estate, we spend a great deal of time studying the underpinnings of the market in which the property is located. A diversity of industries, a robust economy, population growth and a well-educated work force are some of the indicators we study. It’s good business.

Lexington, which scored well in those categories, has made great strides in recent years with the downtown area. It’s one of the main reasons that our company, In-Rel Properties, bought its first building in Kentucky and spent more than $13 million on the purchase and renovation of Chase Tower.

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Tom Martin Q&A: New owner of Chase Tower says downtown Lexington ‘in early innings of a renaissance’

Mukang Cho is CEO of In-Rel Properties, a privately held Lake Worth, Fla., real estate investment firm founded in 1985 with approximately $500 million in assets under management.Chase Tower in downtown Lexington is the firm’s first Kentucky acquisition. It is among more than 6 million square feet of office and retail properties throughout the United States owned by In-Rel.

Impoverished portion of southeast Kentucky to get priority for federal money

An area of southeast Kentucky struggling with chronic poverty and the loss of thousands of coal jobs will get priority when seeking federal money for job training, education, housing and other programs, President Barack Obama plans to announce Wednesday.

An eight-county area of Eastern Kentucky has been chosen for the Promise Zone program, according to the White House.

Communications Veterans Form Alliance

Blanton, Carlton provide decades of expertise in government affairs, media relations

LOUISVILLE (Dec. 18, 2013) – Two veteran communications strategists trusted by governors, mayors and CEOs are joining forces.

Carla Blanton, a Lexington-based communications consultant and former gubernatorial adviser, and Chad Carlton, owner of a Louisville communications firm and former political journalist, have formed a strategic alliance centered on public affairs communications.

Together, they have nearly 50 years of professional communications experience that includes:

  • Public affairs and issue campaigns including Louisville’s city-county merger, expanded gaming, a school referendum and a constitutional amendment
  • Strategic communications planning
  • Media relations
  • Crisis communications

Blanton and Carlton offer a wealth of inner-circle experience in Frankfort, Louisville and Lexington that spans the political spectrum.

Carlton, a former Lexington Herald-Leader political reporter, was communications director for former Mayor Jerry Abramson for eight years before forming his own consulting firm in 2010 – C2 Strategic Communications. The firm focuses on community improvement and its clients include:

  • Ohio River Bridges Project, one of the nation’s largest transportation construction projects, which includes two new bridges in Louisville to improve safety and expand commerce
  • 55,000 Degrees, Louisville’s college-going movement that’s increasing the number of adults with college degrees
  • Uspiritus, Kentucky’s most comprehensive care provider for abused and neglected children
  • Non-profit agencies including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, St. Joseph Children’s Home and Cedar Lake Lodge

Blanton served as communications director for Gov. Ernie Fletcher before establishing her own public affairs and strategic messaging firm in 2006.  Current and former clients of Carla Blanton Consulting include:

  • The National Center for Families Learning, which is headquartered in Louisville and has been featured by national media outlets such as CBS Sunday Morning, Education Week and PARADE magazine
  • The Kentucky Optometric Association, which the firm provided communications support to assist in passage of Senate Bill 110, a law that improves access to quality eye care
  • Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, which has been nationally recognized for its  economic development efforts in Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky, including having one of its initiatives featured by the Clinton Global Initiative
  • Nonprofit organizations such as the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, Lexington Christian Academy, Women Leading Kentucky and the Fayette Education Foundation


$150,000 donation, new clinic space will help Mission Lexington double dental care to poor

Mission Lexington is doubling the amount of dental care it provides to poor adults in Fayette County thanks to a $150,000 donation and expanded clinic space.

Don and Mira Ball made the donation, which will enable the dental clinic to operate at double its former capacity and leverage almost $500,000 worth of additional dental care.

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Kentucky sports production company hires a new president and CEO formerly with ESPN

Wazoo Sports, a regional and national sports production company based in London, Ky., has named Matt Cacciato as its new president and CEO. Cacciato previously served in senior sales positions at ESPN, Disney, the YES Network of the New York Yankees, Turner Media Group and Fox Cable Networks.

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Kentucky Highlands: 45 years of investment, innovation

By Jerry Rickett

Turning 45 is a time to reflect on where you’ve been, the people you’ve met along the way and what you want to accomplish in the future.

Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, formed in Southeastern Kentucky during the War on Poverty in 1968, has helped create more than 18,000 jobs and provided more than 625 businesses with more than $275 million in financing.