Made in Louisville: Manufacturing investment continues

Companies benefit from solid workforce, phenomenal logistics and government support

By Abby Laub

Ford invested more than $1.3 billion in its Kentucky Truck Plant since 2015 alone.

Last summer, Forbes magazine named Louisville as the No. 1 city in the U.S. where manufacturing is thriving. Since 2011, manufacturing employment in the Louisville area has grown 30.2 percent, bringing the total to 83,300 jobs – 12.41 percent of jobs in the local economy.

Regional anchors like Ford continue steady growth. The company that gave the world the assembly line has invested more than $1.3 billion in its Kentucky Truck Plant since 2015 alone. And in June 2017, the company announced it would build 8,500 additional Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC vehicles at the Louisville Assembly Plant.

For years Greater Louisville and Southern Indiana residents and leaders have been  accustomed to hearing manufacturing announcements and expansions, as companies seek out the region due to its strategic location, abundance of water, government support, low cost of doing business and a formidable workforce.

Manufacturers who call the region home have a leg up on competition all over the world – ranging from production of the iconic Louisville Slugger baseball bat downtown, to bourbon, vehicles, Girl Scout cookies, airline seating, disco balls, water heaters and so much more.

To ensure the area remains competitive in the manufacturing sector, the city is partnering with the Kentucky Manufacturing Career Center (KMCC) and the Kentucky Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education (KY FAME) to create a pipeline of highly skilled employees.

Greater Louisville’s manufacturing success is part of the state’s rosy overall manufacturing picture. In February 2018, state officials announced that in addition to last year’s all-time economic development investment mark of $9.2 billion, Kentucky has increased the presence of international companies and broken its export record for the second consecutive year. In 2017, Kentucky sold more than $30.88 billion worth of products and services internationally, a 5.8 percent increase over the previous record from a year ago.

Across the Ohio River, Southern Indiana’s River Ridge Development Authority anticipates continued growth at its 6,000-acre Jeffersonville site. The location has benefited from the newly completed Lewis and Clark Bridge six miles upriver from downtown. Also in Jeffersonville is America Place, which touts a business park with 20 brick buildings at dock height and nine ground buildings with drive-in doors and spaces of up to 300,000 s.f.

Further south, areas like Elizabethtown along Interstate 65 benefit from ample available land, logistics and lower costs.

In Louisville, the FirstBuild “microfactory,” with partners GE Appliances and Local Motors, continues to crank out new appliances.

This spring, Takigawa Corp. America broke ground on its $46 million flexible packaging and high-performance films plant in nearby Bardstown that is expected to create 180 jobs.

Another longtime Louisville staple, the 50-year-old WireCrafters LLC, will expand its operation with a $5.37 million investment to create 100 full-time jobs. WireCrafters will add 26,000 s.f. to its facility.

In November 2017, New Flyer of America Inc. announced it will create up to 550 full-time jobs as it invests $40 million to lease and upgrade a facility for bus parts fabrication in Shepherdsville.

And last spring LINAK U.S. Inc.’s plant, which manufactures linear actuators for hospital beds, office desks, farm equipment and other uses, began its $33 million expansion that will create 413 full-time jobs. The approximately 145,000-s.f. building will double the plant’s size.

All manufacturers are based in Louisville unless otherwise noted:

Abell Elevator

Vertical transportation


Air filtration products

Jeffersonville, Ind. –

Akebono Brake Corp.

Auto disc, drum brakes

Elizabethtown, Ky.

Algood Foods

Private-label peanut butter, jellies, preserves

American Fuji Seal Inc.

Container shrink labels

Bardstown, Ky. –

American Greetings Corp.

Greeting cards

Bardstown, Ky. –

American Printing House
for the Blind Inc.

Educational, daily living products

BAE Systems

Military equipment

Balfour Co. Inc.

High school/college announcements

Beach Mold & Tool Inc.

Injection-molded plastics

New Albany, Ind. –

BFW Inc.

Fiber-optic headlight systems

Bourbon Barrel Foods

Condiments, spices

Bowles Mattress Co.

Lady Americana mattresses

Jeffersonville, Ind. –

Caldwell Tanks Inc.

Steel water tanks, towers

Cardinal Aluminum Co.

Custom aluminum extrusions

Clariant Corp.

Specialty chemicals

Compass Manufacturing International

Kitchen, bath products

D.A. Inc.

Automotive parts

Charlestown, Ind. –

Dawn Food Products Inc.

Bakery mixes, fillings, coatings

D. D. Williamson & Co.

Carmel food/beverage colorings

Derby City Shine

Premium moonshine

Derby Dental Laboratory

Crowns, bridges, dentures

Discount Labels Inc.

Labels, rubber stamps

New Albany, Ind. –

Drexel Metals Inc.

Metal roofing products

Finchville Farms

Country ham/seasoned bacon

Finchville –

FireKing Security Group

Fireproof safes, files

New Albany, Ind. –

Ford Motor Co.

Super Duty Trucks, F-250, F-550,

Expedition, Navigator, Escape

Freudenberg Medical

Medical devices

Jeffersonville, Ind. –

GE Appliances

Water heaters, dishwashers,

refrigerators, washers

General Mills

Pillsbury refrigerated dough

New Albany, Ind. –

Green Bull

Professional-use ladders


Beverage, food equipment

Haas Cabinet Co. Inc.

Kitchen cabinets

Sellersburg, Ind. –

Hillerich & Bradsby Co. Inc.

Louisville Slugger baseball bats

Hunter Knepshield

Modular park buildings,

sports lighting

LaGrange, Ky. –


Industrial mixers

New Albany, Ind. –

KACI (Katayama
American Co. Inc.)

Automotive door sashes, moldings

Shelbyville, Ky. –

Kelley Technical Coatings

Pool, deck tennis/basketball

court coatings

K-I Lumber

Building material

Shelbyville, Ky. –

Kentucky Trailer

Custom vans, trailers

Kern’s Kitchen


Kitchen Kompact Inc.

Kitchen/bath cabinets

Jeffersonville, Ind. –

Lantech Inc.

Stretch-wrapping equipment

Linak U.S. Inc.

Healthcare equipment, furniture, desks

Little Brownie Bakers

Girl Scout cookies

Lear Corp.

Automotive seating

Louisville Bedding

Bed pillows, processed fiber

Louisville Golf Club Co.

Custom clubs under the Persimmon brand

Louisville Stoneware

Stone plates, bowls

Mesa Foods

Corn and flour products


Engineered assembled metallic automotive products

Elizabethtown, Ky. –

Multi Packaging Solutions

Packaging solutions

Nationwide Uniform Corp.

Security/police/postal uniforms

Hodgenville, Ky.

Papercone Corp.

Specialty envelopes, soft packages

Paradise Tomato Kitchens

Custom sauces

Peerless Gear

Outdoor equipment transmissions

Salem, Ind. –

Peptides International

Biological products, research supplies

PPG Architectural Finishes Inc./Porter Paints

Residential paints, stains

Premier Packaging Inc.

Corrugated boxes

Buechel, Ky. –

Publishers Printing

Magazines, labels

Shepherdsville, Ky. –

Purnell’s “Old Folks” Sausage

Sausage products

Simpsonville, Ky. –

Radio Sound Inc.

Sound systems

Raque Food Systems LLC

Food product-packaging machines

Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products Inc.

Frozen biscuits, pancakes, dry mixes

Raytheon Co.

Defense weapons systems

Rev-A-Shelf LLC

Home storage, organization products

Jeffersontown, Ky. –

Restonic New Albany

Restonic mattresses

New Albany, Ind. –

Reynolds Packing Group

Aluminum foil

Samtec Inc.

Electronic interconnect products

New Albany, Ind. –

Stanley Black & Decker

Professional power tools

Shelbyville, Ky. –

Steepleton Co.

Billiard tables

Superior Van & Mobility

Vehicle mobility systems

Louisville –

Sypris Solutions Inc.

Data acquisition/storage systems

Tower International

Metal, automotive stampings,


Bardstown, Ky. –

Tyson Foods Inc.

Poultry deli products

Corydon, Ind. –

US WorldMeds


Zeon Chemicals

Innovative polymers

Zoeller Co.

Sewage pump systems