FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 28, 2018) – Companies pledged nearly $5.3 billion in expansions and new facility locations throughout Kentucky this year, making 2018 the second-highest in state history for corporate investment, Gov. Matt Bevin announced.
From those investments spanning 374 individual projects, businesses plan to create more than 14,500 full-time jobs in the coming years. The state’s 2018 performance brings the Bevin administration total to $18.1 billion in announced investment and 50,745 jobs announced, more than any previous four-year administration in Kentucky.
“These year-end results are continued proof that private industry in Kentucky is surging forward,” said Gov. Bevin. “The measures we’ve put in place to strengthen our business climate and workforce, are giving companies increased reasons to choose Kentucky above other states. With our strong economic performance in recent years, we are further establishing Kentucky as the engineering and manufacturing hub of excellence in America. I am highly confident that, in the coming year, we can expect more great economic development achievements for the commonwealth.”
Kentucky’s highest-ever investment performance came in 2017 with more than $9.2 billion in corporate projects announced. This year’s announced investment surpassed the prior second-best of $5.1 billion from 2015.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development uses a consistent methodology to track and regularly publish information on private-sector projects, new job announcements and creation, and corporate investment announcements. To grow the state’s economy, the Cabinet works with the business community and partner organizations to help private-sector companies maintain and expand current Kentucky operations and to select the commonwealth for new facilities.
“Sustaining this level of success wouldn’t be possible without the Governor’s leadership and tremendous assistance from our partners across the state in local and regional economic development offices as well as utilities, education and training institutions, industry associations and the individuals who make Kentucky a welcoming state and a great place to live,” said Terry Gill, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. “With the help of these partners, we’ve also instituted new programs and expanded key efforts that position Kentucky to outperform in the future as well.”
Rural counties attracted 205 of the 374 private-sector projects announced in 2018 while 169 went to the 10 most-populated counties; Jefferson, Fayette, Campbell, Boone, Kenton, Warren, Hardin, Daviess, Madison and Bullitt. Urban counties will claim nearly 7,800 of the new jobs announced and rural account for more than 6,700.
“It’s important to both our Cabinet and the state economy’s health that we recruit for all 120 counties in Kentucky,” said Vivek Sarin, the Cabinet’s co-leader and executive officer. “While we do not tell companies where to locate, we are committed to presenting them with competitive and attractive options. To this end, its vital for us to work with Kentucky communities to prepare them for success. This year alone we added new and expanded corporate headquarters, attracted internationally based manufacturers and announced service and tech company projects. As well, we entirely reimagined our approach to supporting Kentucky’s own startups, entrepreneurs and innovators through KY Innovation.”
The Cabinet recruits only from private-sector industries in which it competes with other states; mainly manufacturing, service and technology companies. As such, the Cabinet’s annual job, project and investment totals do not include restaurant, retail, hospitality, patient-care facilities, non-profits, retail banking, schools, farms, governments or higher-education institutions.
In 2018, consistent with economic development industry norms, Kentucky attracted more projects and total investment from its current businesses than from new companies. Existing businesses announced 311 expansion projects, accounting for more than $3.68 billion and 8,200 planned jobs. That compares with 63 new-location projects, expected to create more than $1.61 billion in investment and 6,300 jobs.
Internationally owned companies in 2018 announced 62 projects, totaling $2.37 billion in planned investment and 2,773 in planned full-time job creation. Kentucky currently has more than 500 internationally owned facilities employing more than 111,000 people full-time. Of the 34 nations represented, Japanese (191), German (78) and Canadian (35) companies maintain the largest presence.
The year’s top-five sectors by investment are food & beverage, primary metals (specifically aluminum-related and steel & iron production), advanced manufacturing, motor vehicle-related and distribution & logistics.
The top-five jobs sectors for the year are advanced manufacturing, distribution & logistics, motor vehicle-related, food & beverage and business/financial services.
The top-five projects by announced investment are Nucor Steel Gallatin at $650 million, Beam Inc. at $585 million, Maker’s Mark Distillery Inc. with $495 million, Novelis Corp. at nearly $305 million and GE Appliances – Haier at $200 million.
The top-five announced job-creating projects are Amazon (Lexington) at 600, Phoenix Paper Wickliffe with 500, TopGolf at 475, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated with 430 and RSTUSA, GE Appliances – Haier and Walmart/Jet.com each with 400.
Kentucky’s unemployment rate hit a record low in 2018 and remained low throughout the year, standing at 4.5 percent in November. The state’s labor force participation rate reached a record high this year and stands at 59.3 percent in November.
Kentucky’s exports could set a record in 2018 for a third consecutive year. Through October, the most recent data available, companies exported $26.5 billion in goods and services. That’s 4.2 percent ahead of the same months last year.
A complete list of Kentucky’s 2018 announced projects is available here. Various reports, including the commonwealth’s existing industries and announced projects are available here.