FRANKFORT, Ky.—Kentucky’s economic growth is happening at a record-breaking pace, and the state’s manufacturing sector stands at the center of that success. Today, Gov. Andy Beshear designated October as Manufacturing Month in the commonwealth in recognition of the sector’s nearly 5,000 facilities across the state.
“We are setting a new standard for economic growth in Kentucky, and we are doing it with manufacturers from virtually every industry,” Gov. Beshear said. “Manufacturing is absolutely vital to our long-term vision for the commonwealth, and that is reflected by the significant number of Kentuckians employed within the sector. We are positioning Kentucky for economic growth well into the future, and manufacturing will continue to be an integral part of that effort. I want to thank each and every manufacturer across our state for contributing to our tremendous economic success.”
Kentucky manufacturers help position communities in every corner of the state for future growth, employing more than 250,000 people and providing high wages and upward mobility for Kentucky families. The commonwealth’s manufacturing prowess stands out on a national scale, with the sector representing $37.5 billion of the state’s gross domestic product; it employs around 13% of the state’s workforce compared with a national average of 8.5%.
Manufacturers spearhead the success of a number of Kentucky industries, including distribution and logistics, automotive, aerospace, primary metals, health care, food, beverage, agritech and many others.
Manufacturers have been key in Kentucky’s record pace for economic growth in 2021, responsible for a majority of the over $8.7 billion in planned investment and 11,700 expected new full-time jobs announced by private-sector companies year-to-date. This growth includes not just a high volume of newly announced jobs, but also quality opportunities for Kentuckians. Through July, Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage is $23.47 before benefits, a 6.2% increase over the previous year.
Since the start of 2020, manufacturing projects have contributed to more than 200 new-location and expansion announcements that will create over 13,500 full-time jobs with approximately $10 billion in new investment.
Shelley Goodwin, interim executive director of the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (KAM), said the sector’s importance has been on full display as companies overcome recent challenges.
“Our industry has shown tremendous resiliency over the course of this pandemic. As we begin to rebound, the importance of manufacturing and logistics has become evident to everyone,” Goodwin said. “Because of Kentucky manufacturers, store shelves are stocked, food is on the table and millions of vaccine doses have been created and delivered. We sincerely appreciate Gov. Beshear’s recognition of Manufacturing Month in Kentucky. Manufacturing Month showcases why our industry is so vital and what it offers to our state and the rest of the world.”
Kentucky boasts a number of advantages for manufacturers looking to locate or grow in the commonwealth, including its ideal central geographic location, which places the state within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population and income. This allows manufacturers to quickly distribute their products to key U.S. markets, while global air cargo hubs by UPS, DHL and Amazon provide fast and reliable distribution overnight across the globe. The state also offers low business costs, including the lowest industrial electric costs east of the Mississippi River, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Kentucky’s manufacturing strength also is on display in ratings issued by the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University, which publishes its Manufacturing & Logistics Report Card annually in the U.S. Kentucky was the only state to receive an “A” grade in all three categories of Manufacturing Industry Health, International Trade and Logistics Industry, reiterating the commonwealth’s well-rounded manufacturing success.
Manufacturers will continue to play an instrumental role as Kentucky builds on recent economic momentum in response to the effects of the pandemic.
Last week Gov. Beshear, Ford Motor Co. Executive Chair Bill Ford, CEO Jim Farley and Dong-Seob Jee, president of SK Innovation’s battery business, announced the single largest economic development project in the history of the commonwealth on Monday, celebrating a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs and places Kentucky at the forefront of the automotive industry’s future.
In July, thanks to strong fiscal management by the Beshear administration, the state budget office reported the commonwealth ended the 2021 fiscal year with a general fund surplus of over $1.1 billion – the highest ever in the commonwealth – and a 10.9% increase in General Fund receipts to $12.8 billion.
In May, Moody’s Analytics published a positive economic outlook for Kentucky, noting mass vaccination as the driving force behind a sustained recovery in consumer services. The state’s recovery, Moody’s said, benefited from earlier reopening efforts and increased demand for manufactured goods over services. The report also found Kentucky’s manufacturing industry outperformed the nation’s since the national downturn last year.
Fitch Ratings in May improved the state’s financial outlook to stable, reflecting the commonwealth’s solid economic recovery. The state’s April sales tax receipts set an all-time monthly record at $486.5 million, as did vehicle usage tax receipts at over $64 million.
In March, Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for 2020 positioned Kentucky atop the South Central region, and third nationally, for qualifying projects per capita. The commonwealth also placed seventh overall in total projects, the highest of any state with a population under 5 million. Site Selection also recently placed Kentucky in a tie for fifth in its 2021 Prosperity Cup rankings, positioning the state among the national leaders for business climate.
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