EDC to announce new loan program for downtown

The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. will announce plans for a loan program to promote investment in downtown Owensboro this morning. 

EDC Chairman Darrell Higginbotham, who is Daviess County president of Independence Bank, will provide details about the new Downtown Owensboro Revitalization Loan Program at a 9 a.m. CST press conference at the EDC offices at 200 E. Third St. in Owensboro. 

Officials said Monday they anticipate private investment to be at least twice as much as the $79 million investment proposed by the city of Owensboro and Daviess Fiscal Court. 

“If we invested $80 million, if we didn’t get $200 million (in private) investment, that would surprise me very much,” said Fred Reeves, downtown development director, told the Messenger-Inquirer on Monday.

The loan program will begin with a capitalization of $2.5 million by “trustee-level investor banks” that are members of EDC and plan to invest “.00005 percent of their deposit share to promote the work of economic development in Greater Owensboro,” according to the EDC.

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Owensboro downtown group launches Web site

The Downtown Development Authority in Owensboro has launched a new Web site to showcase work on a downtown master plan and increase discussion about the future of the city core.

The site – www.downtownowensboro.com – went live Monday and includes some of the sketches of a possible farmers market at the state office building at West Second and Frederica streets along with a brief explanation of the “placemaking initiative” headed by the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp.

Downtown Development Director Fred Reeves said he hopes the site and its blog will spur discussion about the downtown’s future, though the only post on the blog so far is from late June. The site also gives residents a chance to register for three community workshops during the week of Sept. 8-12 related to the downtown master plan.

Read the full story in the Messenger-Inquirer.

City, county reject Messenger-Inquirer’s open meetings law complaint

The city and county have rejected a complaint by the Messenger-Inquirer filed last week accusing the two government bodies of breaking Kentucky’s open meetings law with their recent decision to try to buy the Executive Inn Rivermont.

The gist of the response from the city and county is that neither body took “final action” in agreeing on a price to offer for the closed, 600-room hotel and submitting what they call a preliminary purchase offer to hotel owners Marshall Investments.

That decision was reached not at an official meeting but during several conversations among elected officials, according to Downtown Development Director Fred Reeves and Daviess County Judge-Executive Reid Haire. However, since the city and county don’t view the decision as a” final action,” they maintain that no official meeting was required.

To learn more about what the open meetings law says and when violations occur, check out my earlier post here.

The newspaper submitted an appeal of the rejected complaint on Wednesday to state Attorney General Jack Conway’s office, which will make a ruling in 10 business days.

Read the full story in the Messenger-Inquirer.

Open records, closed meetings – What’s all the fuss?

In his foreword to the “Kentucky Open Meetings and Open Records Laws” handbook that sits on the desks of most reporters around the state, former Legislative Research Commission Director Vic Hellard Jr. explains that the state passed an Open Meetings law 34 years ago “to provide the people with greater access to government.”

The law gives the average citizen and the press the opportunity to see how decisions are made by the governments that represent them, along with granting those public bodies protections when deciding certain potentially sensitive issues such as personnel matters and property purchases.

Those two competing rights were at the root of a complaint filed by the Messenger-Inquirer last week over a decision by the city of Owensboro and Daviess Fiscal Court.

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City of Owensboro, Daviess Fiscal Court make hotel bid

The city of Owensboro and Daviess Fiscal Court have submitted a formal offer to Marshall Investments to purchase the Executive Inn Rivermont.

The offer was made last week by the two government bodies, but details of the offer including the proposed purchase price won’t be released, said Downtown Development Director Fred Reeves.

The announcement came after a closed-door meeting of the city commission and fiscal court Friday morning in which elected officials decided Reeves will be the point person in the drive to secure ownership of the 17-acre riverfront plot that contains the closed 600-room hotel.

Reeves said he had heard nothing from Marshall since the offer was submitted, but hoped to hear back early next week. There was no deadline attached to the offer, Reeves said.