Kentucky City Enjoys Booming Economy Amid Pandemic As Rest Of Country Reels

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A triage team screens patients outside the Emergency Department at Owensboro Health. The hospital lost two-thirds of its revenue while elective surgeries were halted, but it didn’t lay off any workers.

Owensboro Health


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Owensboro Health

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The Glenmore Distillery is adding to its workforce of more than 400 to meet demand during the pandemic. The distillery has also turned some of its grain alcohol into hand sanitizer.

The Glenmore Distillery


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The Glenmore Distillery


Business
‘Devastated’: As Layoffs Keep Coming, Hopes Fade That Jobs Will Return Quickly

But most big employers have found ways to keep operating safely.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union pushed a local ham company hard for more social distancing and protective equipment. The union is also trying to win a restoration of the 10% hazard pay that the company’s employees were receiving until the end of May.

«They go to work every single day so that we have food to put on the table for American families,» says Caitlin Blair, a spokeswoman for UFCW Local 227. «They deserve to be appreciated, supported, protected and paid.»

Owensboro is also home to a mortgage processing arm of U.S. Bank, one of the country’s largest. Thanks to strong demand for housing and rock-bottom interest rates, the mortgage business is humming during the pandemic. About three-quarters of the bank’s employees in Owensboro are still working from home.

That’s a challenge for parents now that virtual school is starting up again. The local chamber of commerce is trying to help: it is working to establish off-campus learning centers, where kids can get school meals, and working parents can get a break.

«If you’re working full time, even if you’re from home, you can’t stop and be an instructional aide for your child and be an effective employee,» says Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Candance Castlen Brake. «You can, but it’s going to be extremely challenging.»


Economy
‘A Homeless Pandemic’ Looms As 30 Million Are At Risk Of Eviction

Despite its challenges, Owensboro has come closer to a «V-shaped» recovery than just about any city in the country.

But it’s still not out of the woods, as shown by the uptick in unemployment in July.

Tourism continues to suffer in Owensboro, as elsewhere. The city’s Romp Festival, which usually draws 25,000 people to support the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, had to be canceled in June.

«I don’t think any of us can predict what’s going to happen,» Blake says. «Other than the fact that we’re going to have to stick together and get through it.»

  • Owensboro, Ky.
  • essential workers
  • COVID-19
  • coronavirus
  • Jobs
  • Unemployment
  • mortgages
  • Kentucky

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