LOUISVILLE (Nov. 11, 2015) – Kentucky State University and Simmons College of Kentucky have agreed to share the $1.5 million education campus to be donated by STAR BioEnergy as part of the planned energy-producing biodigester project at 17th and Maple streets.

Dr. Raymond Burse, president of Kentucky State University, and Dr. Kevin Cosby, president of Simmons College, have agreed to share the historic Schenley Distillery Building along with about four acres of adjacent land. The 1937 Art Deco building at 822 S. 15th St., which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was used for bottling and other distillery-related work.

Simmons College plans to use the building for classrooms and other educational purposes. Kentucky State plans to use a portion of the building for the school’s nationally known aquaculture and hydroponics programs.

Dr. Cosby said, “I would like to applaud STAR BioEnergy and Heaven Hill for the historic and transformational investment they are making to Simmons College of Kentucky. This generous donation of property, worth in excess of $1.5 million, will greatly aid Simmons’ mission of providing quality education for some of our community’s most marginalized citizens.”


Mayor Greg Fischer said “This agreement represents a significant investment in west Louisville, and I’m glad to see it moving along.” Fischer agreed to assist Simmons College and Kentucky State in raising private funds to help redevelop the building. Fischer last week announced his support for the proposed biodigester following a two-month education and community discussion process.

“My goal was to make sure the project is safe and scientifically sound, helps us reach our environmental goals and provides jobs for the surrounding community,” Fischer said. “It is also important that businesses be good neighbors, sharing their prosperity with the communities where they locate. STAR BioEnergy and Heaven Hill Brands are doing just that.”

The $32 million biodigester project will generate revenue for STAR BioEnergy through the production of green energy biogas – the product of a biodigester that will recycle the spent grains from bourbon production at Heaven Hill Brands’ neighboring Bernheim Distillery.

The donation of the education campus is dependent upon revenues generated from the biodigester project. STAR BioEnergy, which holds an option to buy the Schenley property, will seek formal approval of the facility at 17th and Maple streets from the Louisville Board of Zoning Adjustment.

If approved by the local board, construction of the facility could begin in spring 2016, and the facility could begin operations by the end of 2016.

Group named to select West Louisville Community Benefits Fund board

STAR BioEnergy and Heaven Hill Brands today announced they are entrusting a three-member committee of west Louisville advocates with the responsibility to appoint the initial board that will determine the details of how to distribute annual grants through a West Louisville Community Benefits Fund. This three-member committee will solicit input from the community.

The companies last week announced plans to share the benefits of the biodigester project with west Louisville by donating $3.5 million over the next 10 years to support west Louisville efforts to increase educational attainment, advance job training, foster entrepreneurship and economic development and improve healthy living.

The companies have pledged $1 million in the first year ($500,000 at groundbreaking and $500,000 when operation begins) and annual contributions of $250,000 over the next 10 years through the proceeds and savings generated from the biodigester project. The Community Foundation of Louisville will serve as the fund’s fiscal agent.

Committee members include:

  • Dana Johnson, Director of Giving and Donor Partnerships for the Community Foundation of Louisville


  • David James, Louisville Metro Council member whose district includes the California neighborhood where the biodigester facility will be located


  • Kevin Fields, Senior Vice President/Chief Operating Officer at Louisville Central Community Centers, Inc.

Dr. Cosby also praised the creation of the fund and the planned investment in west Louisville: “As a resident and stakeholder in the success of west Louisville, I am also excited about the additional $3.5 million donation over 10 years to the West Louisville Community Benefits Fund. This fund is the first of its kind in the state of Kentucky and will be an important catalyst for west Louisville transformation.


“The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. The investment being made by Star BioEnergy and Heaven Hill is an important first step toward assuring that all within our city are provided hope and opportunity.”