As twenty-eleven ends, for better or worse,
I offer a remembrance not in photos but verse.
Birthday after birthday marked this past year,
As Kentucky's businesses kept toasting — hear, hear.
Toyota broke ground in Georgetown 25 years ago,
And today, the factory's success continues to grow.
It was the automaker's first wholly owned U.S. plant,
And its contributions locally haven't been scant.
To celebrate the occasion, a beloved leader returned,
Former president Fujio Cho spoke of lessons he learned.
The plant's several thousand workers took part in a big bash,
As Tim McGraw played at Rupp amid pomp and flash.
Keeneland celebrated its 75th year with much glitz and flair,
The famed track offered more than memories to share.
Its biggest salute came not from the bugle of Bucky,
But from the Boston Pops orchestra that visited Kentucky.
Never miss a local story.
The group performed with the symphony from UK,
Offering arrangements for a horse-themed day.
The track got good news as the year progressed,
Its November auction totals were more than blessed.
And Lexmark at 20 capped the major birthday year;
It donated $1 million to UK and drew a big cheer.
The old library at Northside will now be repaired,
To help teachers of science and math be better prepared.
A host of other birthdays made for quite a sight,
It was 65 years since Delta's first Lexington flight.
And Humana of Louisville threw a party for turning 50,
For the hospital-company-turned-insurer it was nifty.
And just as Lexmark celebrated, so did its source,
At 100, IBM, which spun it off, is still a force.
Its typewriter made in Lexington had a birthday, too,
The Selectric turned 50. Woo-woo-woo!
While the celebrations kept things somewhat light,
It was a tough year due to the economic fright.
The state's jobless rate dipped under 10 percent,
But we're still worse than the nation's, we lament.
Electric costs are going up all around the state,
As the EPA demands cleaner, pricier power at a future date.
Kentucky Utilities already has a plan in place,
And its environmental surcharge is rising at a steady pace.
The utility plans to close its Tyrone and Green River stations,
And will replace them with natural gas-powered creations.
Rates could go up 4 percent based on the series of moves,
That is if the state Public Service Commission approves.
The PSC had an issue with KU earlier this year,
As it said customer service was in less than high gear.
But KU's environmental programs got a big jump,
As the PSC approved offerings that were a bit more plump.
Also in the utility world, East Kentucky Power made news,
As its rates went up, leaving customers singing the blues.
The co-op had an announcement that made a big splash:
It got its first credit rating to help borrow cash.
Enough about power; let's switch to the printer,
Lexmark made a big move as the year neared winter.
A dividend was launched for the first time by the firm,
It will pay 25 cents to shareholders every quarterly term.
The company's new leadership also took hold,
as CEO Paul Curlander left the fold.
Paul Rooke experienced his first full year at the helm,
As the company sought to expand in its realm.
Despite its celebration, Toyota had a tough year,
As an earthquake and tsunami kicked plants out of gear.
Lines, including Georgetown's, found themselves stopped,
As the shipment of overseas parts dropped and dropped.
The setback aside, it was a big year for the flagship sedan,
As the Georgetown-built Camry's seventh generation began.
Global leader Akio Toyoda visited as part of the celebration,
And gave his workers a tremendous commendation.
Cable company Insight said it soon will be sold,
With Time Warner Cable planning to take hold.
In the midst of the deal, there was quite a spat,
As Insight and Fox 56 wrestled each other to the mat.
But the two came to terms, so there's no need to fear,
Family Guy and American Dad will come in quite clear.
Speaking of TV, local news continued to grow,
As WKYT-27 added a 10 a.m. show.
Anchors left town including WTVQ's Megan Skaggs,
She and hubby Dave Spencer now live under Michigan flags.
Brandon Fisher left WKYT to start selling prescription pills,
So Rob Bromley was back at 11 telling us of sporting thrills.
WLEX eyed growth for its 4 and 7 p.m. news,
Proving that off hours attract plenty of views.
And radio popped up, too, with a new station around,
WEKU launched 102.1 for a new classical sound.
Alltech's year was plenty busy even without WEG,
As its Kentucky Ale kept selling keg after keg.
The company is tripling production of the drink,
Looking to keep its demand and supply in sync.
Alltech also broke ground for a new distillery,
As it adds Town Branch Bourbon to its artillery.
But it was still spending money in the arena of the horse,
Agreeing to sponsor 2014 WEG in full force.
It helped lure the National Horse Show to the Horse Park,
The event's back next year, too, after making a big mark.
Also added with iHigh was the Alltech Ag Network site,
It webcasts shows and meetings to the enthusiast's delight.
Hundreds of new ACS workers answered phones,
As their call centers aided customers in all time zones.
But as the company added more and more,
It lost Tom Blodgett, the local executive at its core.
He was tapped to make the company's European work excel,
Au revoir, adios, auf wiedersehen and, of course, farewell.
Filling his place is Connie Harvey, a Lexington-based exec;
She led the health-care unit while being on deck.
Moving along, Covington-based Ashland was being bold,
Adding International Specialty Products to its chemical fold.
Its Valvoline unit in Lexington also is growing,
And expecting to hire more as sales are glowing.
New life came to our town's most neglected ex-mall,
As Southland continued work to build a worship hall.
But it wasn't all sunshine and roses along Richmond Road,
The new landlord sued Perkins, saying money is owed.
The diner sued back, claiming skullduggery was afoot,
Alleging the landlord sought to make the business go kaput.
But even if there's trouble, most would seem to agree,
It's better than a vacant mall and an empty marquee.
Downtown's Big Blue Building found itself with a new look,
As Fifth Third's logo was updated to give it more of a hook.
Speaking of downtown, the area's hotel rooms fall short,
Or so says a recent Convention and Visitors Bureau report.
One such hotel still missing from view is CentrePointe,
And the vacant lot keeps some people's noses out of joint.
The year saw a new designer take a look at the vision,
But her idea for a smaller hotel led to a negative decision.
The plan is like the old, hoping for a Marriott that's big,
But all folks really want to know is when they'll start to dig.
More vacancies came as CVS scrapped building downtown,
But retail and condos there might turn frowns upside down.
Groceries, not one but two, came downtown this year,
Leading produce-picking residents to perform a cheer.
Grocery shoppers also got news they've waited to hear,
Trader Joe's finally will open in Lexington next year.
The Rupp Arena debate raged in-season and off,
Some wanted new digs; the cost made others scoff.
In the end, renovation won and made its supporters glad,
But now its future will await whether financing can be had.
The Occupy movement came to a bank called Chase,
Asking to change the status quo before yielding their place.
Last year's tax credits weighed down the sale of real estate,
As not enough buyers were out despite a great interest rate.
It was mania for frozen yogurt as business grew and grew,
Orange Leaf and others became many instead of few.
But ice cream staged a comeback against the frozen treat,
As Graeter's will open soon on Euclid, so be ready to eat.
Yum sold the Long John Silver's and A&W chains,
Finding two buyers looking to run them for gains.
Louisville remains home to the one that likes fish boats,
And Lexington gets A&W's burgers and root beer floats.
The horse industry got a needed shot in the arm,
Instant racing at Kentucky Downs got cheers from track to farm.
The machines face a Family Foundation challenge in court,
The conservative group says the games are slots, in short.
Lexington-based Fazoli's saw key sales rising,
Crediting a fresh look and a menu more appetizing.
Even the chain's famous bread stick was invented anew,
Soon new customer service ideas will make their debut.
Tempur-Pedic specializes in nights of perfect sleep,
And its new headquarters shows its sales are taking a leap.
Stop bullets they do, and sell more they sure did,
Ceradyne's body armor turned around a sales skid.
Rising costs led Burger Shake's owners to change the sign,
It's now 99 cents, not 84, for a burger while you dine.
Firehouse Subs and Moe's made meals more worthwhile,
By adding the custom soft-drink machine Coke Freestyle.
Lexington got a direct flight to the city of sin,
Allegiant's flying to Vegas; here's hoping you win.
The Legends' ballpark found itself with a new name,
Whitaker Bank replaced Applebee's as host of the game.
New leaders came to town; there were more than a few,
Some came to existing places, some began business anew.
The Herald-Leader's new boss is named for a day of the week,
You don't have to say Mr. Friday, just Rufus if you speak.
Kentucky American Water saw its first woman take the reins,
Illinois' Cheryl Norton now oversees its joys and pains.
One high-profile new face opened an office at city hall,
Jim Gray is a businessman-turned-mayor of them all.
The University of Kentucky changed its most key position,
As Eli Capilouto became president with much ambition.
Coming, too, is a new leader of Gatton business college,
David Blackwell of Texas A&M will spread his knowledge.
A changing of the guard happened at Maker's Mark's top,
Rob Samuels succeeded Bill Jr., his affable pop.
In a sad change, downtown office supplier Dick Hurst died,
He was known for his UK Wildcat bumper sticker pride.
Joseph-Beth left a bankruptcy auction to keep selling books,
But the landlord outbidding the founder drew inquiring looks.
Lexington company Frogdice launched a new video game,
Sporting medieval shopkeepers, Coin 'n' Carry is its name.
Some Urban Active members were less than thrilled,
As they complained the fitness chain improperly billed.
On a positive note, Tiffany's is one of our town's next kings,
It opened a factory to make blue-boxed necklaces and rings.
Deals were inked despite the tough economic state.
Safety-device seller Galls was sold for an undisclosed rate.
The Red Mile sealed a plan to sell Tattersalls and 10 acres,
To a developer building apartments for college student takers.
Sold off, too, was the Griffin Gate Marriott's many rooms,
Ownership by a different out-of-state company looms.
An auction of Mercer County land saw many raise arms,
Anderson Circle wound up sold to Justice Family Farms.
We lost some friends by the time the year's end was nigh,
The economy hurt them so much they closed and said bye.
Restaurants came and went just like their courses,
Among them was Baker's 360 due to economic forces.
Gone as well was Naked Pizza in less than a year,
The healthiest eaters among us shed plenty a tear.
Buddy's said goodbye without posting a reason,
Perhaps something new will be in by next season.
Six years after his death came the closing of Stanley J's,
As his children have other dreams for their future days.
But all was not lost by those businesses who said adieu,
Some places saw other companies make their debut.
Nothing But Burgers was replaced by Chuy's in town,
They have a salsa bar on which you can chow down.
Hamburg saw a change as Max & Erma's became rubble,
In its place, a Red Lobster went up on the double.
Morgan Adams Books came to its final chapter and page,
But the epilogue of Wild Fig Bookstore took its stage.
J. Gumbo's Cajun might have been too bland,
Because it made way for the Jamba Juice brand.
One store even managed quite the magic trick,
ADI opened in Hamburg but closed really quick.
Some others spent their time moving to a new place,
Morris Book Shop left Southland for digs at Chevy Chase.
PNC Bank moved from Vine to a nearby Main spot,
Inside the old National City, a bank it bought.
BB&T is moving into its space and looking to accrue
More new customers now that it has a drive-through.
There it is, your year summed up in rhyme,
Sure, I left stuff out, but who has the time?
So, will the new year see growth or will it just taper?
This amateur poet knows not, so keep buying your paper.