Kentucky-based Four Roses earns ‘World’s Best Bourbon’ title

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. – Four Roses 130th Anniversary 2018 Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon, released last September, has been named World’s Best Bourbon in the 2019 World Whiskies Awards. “The competition for the World Whiskies Awards is strong, so it’s a tremendous honor for our 130th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch to be recognized by the judging panel as the World’s Best Bourbon,” said Brent Elliott, Four Roses Master Distiller. “I wanted to create something special to celebrate 130 years of handcrafting premium Bourbon and I could not be happier with this bottling.” Lane Report

Bill ‘effectively killing the solar industry in Kentucky’ zips through Senate

FRANKFORT — Over the protests of Kentucky’s fledgling solar industry and the state’s leading environmentalist, the Kentucky Senate gave quick passage Wednesday to the bill long-sought by utility companies to change how they credit customers with rooftop solar panels. The Senate voted 23-12 to pass Senate Bill 100. It now goes to the House which, like the Senate, has put it on the fast track so it can be considered in committee as soon as Thursday morning. On Wednesday afternoon, most of the Senate’s Republican majority was satisfied with the explanation of the sponsor, Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard. Smith said that under the bill the Kentucky Public Service Commission would be trusted to set a value for the credits given to solar customers for any excess power they return to the power grid. Louisville Courier Journal

Coal employment ‘ain’t like it once was.’ Number of jobs in Kentucky hits new low.

The number of coal jobs in Kentucky sank to a new low in 2018, according to a state report. Coal employment varies from month to month, but the average for the entire year was 6,409, according to the state Energy and Environment Cabinet. The total as of Dec. 31 was better, at 6,569, but the number of jobs hovered around 6,300 in the first half of 2018, dragging down the annual average. The 6,409 average for 2018 compared to 6,610 for 2017, the year President Donald Trump took office pledging to roll back Obama-era environmental initiatives and bring back coal jobs. Kentucky.com

That’s The Randle Report for February 13, 2019

Join us again tomorrow morning for all of the American South’s business, economic development and political news in real time and in one place. Use the sort buttons or the search window to find any story you need to find from last week, last month, last year or several years ago. Click on the headline above to access Southern Business & Development’s website, the economic development magazine of the American South; the third largest economy in the world.

U.S. Tax Revenue Declined 0.4% in 2018

WASHINGTON—Federal tax revenue declined 0.4% in 2018, the first full calendar year under the new tax law, despite robust economic growth and the lowest unemployment rate in nearly five decades. The Treasury Department said Wednesday federal revenue totaled $3.33 trillion last year, while federal spending totaled $4.2 trillion, a 4.4% increase from the previous year. That pushed the U.S. budget gap up to $873 billion for the 12 months that ended in December, compared with $680.8 billion during the same period a year earlier—a 28.2% increase. Treasury has attributed the weaker revenue collection to the sweeping changes to U.S. tax code that took effect in January 2018, including lower corporate and individual income-tax rates. The Wall Street Journal

What do Amazon’s N.Y. troubles mean for Virginia?

Revelations that Amazon.com Inc. might scrap plans for its second headquarters in New York’s Long Island City raise many questions for Virginia and Arlington County, slated to get the other half of HQ2. Should Virginia be full of glee, excited at the prospect of getting more of HQ2? Or should the Old Dominion be worried that a change in New York could lead Amazon to re-examine its entire HQ2 strategy? And just how does the political storm in Richmond, with the state’s top three executives embroiled in controversy threatening all of their tenures, affect either scenario? The prospect of abandoning New York surfaced Friday, just days after embattled Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation offering up to $750 million in incentives to entice Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) to bring the other half of HQ2 to Arlington County. Washington Business Journal

Atlanta-based SunTrust, Winston-Salem-based BB&T to spend $100 million on technology, innovation in merger

The combined SunTrust/BB&T will spend $100 million on technology and innovation, SunTrust CEO Bill Rogers told employees in a companywide town hall-style webcast Monday. “We declared, just to throw a number out there, incrementally… this is just on top of… not the number, but incrementally, we are going to invest another $100 million dollars in technology and in innovation. “We are talking about Charlotte as being an innovation hub, but innovation takes place all across our company, not just in Charlotte. So I want to be clear about that. Innovation takes place lots of places. But that’s going to be one of the symbols and one of the places that we are going to demonstrate that.” Atlanta Business Chronicle

Finnish manufacturer investing $70.8M in Alabama expansion

A manufacturer based in Finland is expanding its operations in Alabama. Kemira plans to invest $70.8 million in its manufacturing facility in Mobile, creating an additional 20 jobs in the process. The company supplies the pulp and paper, oil and gas, and water treatment industries with polymer products. “For Kemira, this investment is an important step towards the growth objectives outlined in our strategy,” said Pedro Materan, senior vice president, oil and gas, at Kemira. “It also secures our position as a leading global polymer producer and demonstrates our continued commitment to the oil and gas industry.” Birmingham Business Journal

THE RED BAR IN GRAYTON BEACH, FLORIDA, DESTROYED BY FIRE OVERNIGHT

A beloved travel destination and local bar in South Walton, Florida, was destroyed by a fire overnight. The Red Bar at 70 Hotz Ave, Santa Rosa Beach by Grayton Beach was a popular bar called the “area’s most popular indoor destination,” according to it’s website. “It’s the restaurant & bar which is a must do while in South Walton – the hot spot for great food and live music,” said the bar’s website. Fire crews were working at the scene at 7 a.m. EST according to the South Walton Fire District and they were battling strong winds that made the fires difficult to fight. “Unfortunately the Red Bar sustained heavy fire damage and is now a total loss. No injuries were reported,” said the South Walton Fire District on Facebook Wednesday morning. Newsweek

U.S. expects record oil production in 2019, 2020, may be good sign for Louisiana oil sector

The United States expects domestic oil production to reach new heights this year and next, and that prices — for both crude and gasoline — will be lower than they were in 2018. Government forecasters also are sticking to their forecast that the United States — already the world’s biggest oil producer — will become a net exporter of crude and petroleum products in 2020. Most of the increase is expected to come from the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, where production has been booming for several years as operators use hydraulic fracturing and other techniques to squeeze more oil and gas from shale formations. Baton Rouge Advocate