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Economic activity flourishes across the Central Kentucky region

By Lorie Hailey

Buc-ee’s, a huge travel plaza known for its expansive snack and meal options, is being built just off Interstate 75 in Richmond.

(CENTRAL KY. MARKET REVIEW) — Despite economic uncertainty because of the pandemic, the region has had much economic development activity.

Several projects are underway in Frankfort, said Terri Bradshaw, president and CEO of Kentucky Capital Development Corp., including the construction of a $10 million juvenile residential treatment facility and a 120-unit senior living facility.

Some of the other projects include: a $38 million renovation of Topy America’s Frankfort facility; the $1.2 billion expansion of Buffalo Trace Distillery; the expansion of The Recon Group’s facility, creating 90 new jobs; the expansion and creation of 100 new jobs at auto parts manufacturer Montaplast; and a $3.4 million expansion of the Candleberry Candle Co.

Local developers have invested more than $100 million in downtown Frankfort renovation projects, Bradshaw said.

“… The area continues to grow in spite of a less-than-stellar economy caused by the pandemic,” she said. “The once empty sidewalks are abuzz with workers, residents and visitors. Restaurants, concerts, street markets, festivals and cultural events are beginning to fill the streets again.”

In Lexington, several projects are in the works. “It has been a very positive year,” said Kevin Atkins, LFUCG chief development officer.

He pointed to the new Amazon delivery station under construction at Newtown Pike and New Circle Road as one example. The 143,000-s.f. facility will employ up to 500 part-time and full-time workers. Another example is the expansion of Georgia Pacific’s Lexington facility, where Dixie cups are manufactured.

Rubicon establishing its global headquarters in downtown Lexington is another feather in the city’s cap, he said, as is the new headquarters for Longship Logistics in the Hamburg area and the expansion of Summit Biosciences in the Coldstream Research Park.

“We have good things going on in many sectors,” Atkins said.

Other developments

Electric vehicle motors: Hitachi Automotive Electric Motor Systems America is establishing a new, 200-job operation in Berea to manufacture motors for electric vehicles. Electric motor production could begin between April 2022 and March 2023. The operation currently employs about 20 people and is expected to grow to approximately 200 in 2023.

Chapin creates 200 jobs: Chapin International, a manufacturer of compressed air sprayers, plans to add 200 full-time jobs with an expansion of its recently opened Rockcastle County facility and a new location in Boyle County, two projects totaling nearly $16.7 million in new investment.

$4.4 million investment: Taica Cubic Printing Kentucky, which provides cubic printing, paint application and assembly services on molded substrates for Tier 1 automotive suppliers, plans to expand its Clark County facility with a $4.4 million investment expected to create 20 well-paying jobs.

Buc-ee’s coming to Richmond: Bucee’s, a Texas-based chain of travel centers, is constructing its first Kentucky location in Richmond at the Duncannon Lane exit off Interstate 75. The project, which broke ground in April, is part of the company’s multistate expansion across the South. It will occupy more than 53,300 s.f. and offer thousands of snack, meal and drink options for travelers, in addition to approximately 120 fueling stations.

Community Wellness investing in Danville: A provider of remote patient monitoring and clinical health coaching services for the health care industry, Community Wellness Technology, invested $3 million in a new facility in Boyle County, and has plans to invest up to $15 million. The project will create 445 jobs.

AppHarvest expanding operations: AppHarvest is constructing its second hightech controlled environment agriculture facility in Madison County, Ky. The indoor facility will grow non-GMO, chemical pesticide-free fruits and vegetables to be distributed to U.S. grocers and restaurants. The company is also building an indoor farm in Somerset, Ky., where it will grow berries. Because of the company’s strategic location in Appalachia, AppHarvest can reach nearly 70% of Americans in just a day’s drive, reducing transportation costs by up to 80% compared to existing growers in Mexico and the southwestern U.S.

New manufacturing facility: Framebridge, a custom framing company, opened a new manufacturing facility in Lexington in October 2020. It also operates a state-of-the-art 100,000 s.f. manufacturing facility in Richmond. The expansion will help meet growing demand as Framebridge expands its retail operations.

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