By Abby Laub
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:
Air filtration products
Jeffersonville, Ind. – airguard.com
Akebono Brake Corp.
Auto disc, drum brakes
Private-label peanut butter, jellies, preserves
American Fuji Seal Inc.
Container shrink labels
Bardstown, Ky. – afseal.com
American Greetings Corp.
Bardstown, Ky. – americangreetings.com
American Printing House
for the Blind Inc.
Educational, daily living products
Balfour Co. Inc.
High school/college announcements
Beach Mold & Tool Inc.
New Albany, Ind. – beachmold.com
Fiber-optic headlight systems
Bourbon Barrel Foods
Bowles Mattress Co.
Lady Americana mattresses
Jeffersonville, Ind. –
Caldwell Tanks Inc.
Steel water tanks, towers
Cardinal Aluminum Co.
Custom aluminum extrusions
Compass Manufacturing International
Kitchen, bath products
Charlestown, Ind. – daiwa-da.com
Dawn Food Products Inc.
Bakery mixes, fillings, coatings
D. D. Williamson & Co.
Carmel food/beverage colorings
Derby City Shine
Derby Dental Laboratory
Crowns, bridges, dentures
Discount Labels Inc.
Labels, rubber stamps
New Albany, Ind. –
Drexel Metals Inc.
Metal roofing products
Country ham/seasoned bacon
Finchville – finchvillefarms.com
FireKing Security Group
Fireproof safes, files
New Albany, Ind. – fireking.com
Ford Motor Co.
Super Duty Trucks, F-250, F-550,
Expedition, Navigator, Escape
Jeffersonville, Ind. – freudenbergmedical.com
Water heaters, dishwashers,
Pillsbury refrigerated dough
New Albany, Ind. – generalmills.com
Beverage, food equipment
Haas Cabinet Co. Inc.
Sellersburg, Ind. – haascabinet.com
Hillerich & Bradsby Co. Inc.
Louisville Slugger baseball bats
Modular park buildings,
LaGrange, Ky. –
New Albany, Ind. – indco.com
American Co. Inc.)
Automotive door sashes, moldings
Shelbyville, Ky. – kaci.com
Kelley Technical Coatings
Pool, deck tennis/basketball
Shelbyville, Ky. – ki-lumber.com
Custom vans, trailers
Kitchen Kompact Inc.
Jeffersonville, Ind. –
Linak U.S. Inc.
Healthcare equipment, furniture, desks
Little Brownie Bakers
Girl Scout cookies
Bed pillows, processed fiber
Louisville Golf Club Co.
Custom clubs under the Persimmon brand
Stone plates, bowls
Corn and flour products
Engineered assembled metallic automotive products
Elizabethtown, Ky. – metalsa.com
Multi Packaging Solutions
Nationwide Uniform Corp.
Specialty envelopes, soft packages
Paradise Tomato Kitchens
Outdoor equipment transmissions
Salem, Ind. – peerlessgear.com
Biological products, research supplies
PPG Architectural Finishes Inc./Porter Paints
Residential paints, stains
Premier Packaging Inc.
Buechel, Ky. – prempack.com
Shepherdsville, Ky. – pubpress.com
Purnell’s “Old Folks” Sausage
Simpsonville, Ky. – itsgooo-od.com
Radio Sound Inc.
Raque Food Systems LLC
Food product-packaging machines
Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products Inc.
Frozen biscuits, pancakes, dry mixes
Defense weapons systems
Home storage, organization products
Jeffersontown, Ky. –
Restonic New Albany
New Albany, Ind. – restonic.com
Reynolds Packing Group
Electronic interconnect products
New Albany, Ind. – samtec.com
Stanley Black & Decker
Professional power tools
Shelbyville, Ky. –
Superior Van & Mobility
Vehicle mobility systems
Louisville – superiorvan.com
Sypris Solutions Inc.
Data acquisition/storage systems
Metal, automotive stampings,
Bardstown, Ky. –
Tyson Foods Inc.
Poultry deli products
Corydon, Ind. – tyson.com
Sewage pump systems