Home » Independent Stave breaks ground on $66.5M, 220-job cooperage in Morehead

Independent Stave breaks ground on $66.5M, 220-job cooperage in Morehead

Independent Stave Co. is building a new mill in Morehead that will supply white oak lumber to its barrel-making plants around the world.

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Gov. Matt Bevin today congratulated barrel manufacturer Independent Stave Co. for starting construction on its $66.5 million Commonwealth Cooperage in Morehead, expected to create 220 Kentucky jobs in the coming years.

“Independent Stave is a prime example of how our state’s booming distilling industry and top-tier manufacturing sector are both creating new opportunities for Kentuckians,” Gov. Bevin said. “The company has shown a strong commitment to the commonwealth through robust investment and job creation across multiple regions. We are thankful to Independent Stave and greatly value their partnership with Kentucky.”

Today’s groundbreaking celebrated the onset of the new cooperage’s construction near the Morehead-Rowan County Airport. Using locally manufactured staves, Commonwealth Cooperage will produce white oak barrels for the bourbon and whiskey industries.

With construction complete, the cooperage will become the company’s third in the state, joining its 500-employee Kentucky Cooperage in Lebanon and a used barrel cooperage in Louisville, which refurbishes and provides freshly dumped whiskey barrels to breweries and wineries.

ISC also owns two stave mills in Kentucky, the 120-employee Morehead Wood Products facility and Benton Wood Products in Marshall County. Both stave mills opened within the last four years. Morehead Wood Products will supply Commonwealth Cooperage with staves and heads for barrel construction.

For employees, the cooperage will tap the Eastern Kentucky region’s available and manufacturing-oriented workforce, many members of which have been underemployed or unemployed due to coal mining’s decline.

“We are excited to continue investing in and expanding our cooperage operations in the Commonwealth of Kentucky as we support the growth of our customers,” said Brad Boswell, Independent Stave CEO and fourth-generation cooper. “As our fourth domestic cooperage, Commonwealth significantly expands our production capabilities which will allow us to better serve the future needs of our customers.”

ISC, a family-owned cooperage company headquartered in Missouri, reaches distilleries, wineries and breweries in more than 40 countries. The Boswell family founded the company in 1912, first as a domestic supplier of staves, and today as a cooperage company crafting a wide range of barrels and oak products.

In addition to its US facilities in Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, the company operates facilities internationally, including in France, Australia and South America. It owns seven stave mills: one in northeastern France and six American oak mills.

ISC’s growth has coincided with Kentucky’s bourbon boom. Bourbon – and many of its whiskey relatives – is aged in charred oak barrels. That process gives the spirit its signature caramel color and contributes to its complex palate of flavors. A global boom in demand for bourbon the past decade continues to benefit Kentucky and its signature industry. Creating further demand, bourbon barrels can be used only once for bourbon aging.

Distillers filled more than 1.7 million barrels in 2018, up from fewer than 800,000 a decade ago, according to a recent study by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. And Distillers reported capital spending – such new and expanded plants and barrel warehouses of $1.1 billion during last five years. They plan to invest another $1.2 billion planned over the next five years, the study found.

To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in March 2018 preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $3 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.

Additionally, KEDFA approved ISC for up to $500,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.

ISC also can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives.

For more information on ISC, visit www.independentstavecompany.com.