Home » Kentucky tops $10B mark in record year for economic development growth

Kentucky tops $10B mark in record year for economic development growth

New-location and expansion projects include 15,200 full-time jobs

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky’s private-sector new-location and expansion projects have exceeded $10 billion in new investments in a calendar year for the first time in the commonwealth’s history with more than 15,200 full-time jobs announced, creating unprecedented economic momentum, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.

“This is a monumental achievement for our state that represents months of dedication from local and state economic development leaders and businesses across Kentucky who continue to further their commitment to the commonwealth and our residents,” Beshear said.

Through the first 10 months of 2021, economic momentum in Kentucky has exceeded any other full-year totals for investment growth. Year-to-date, more than 110 private-sector new-location and expansion announcements include nearly $10.3 billion in total planned investment that will create more than 15,235 full-time jobs across the coming years.

In central Kentucky, Ford plans to build a dedicated battery manufacturing complex with SK Innovation – the $5.8 billion BlueOvalSK Battery Park – creating 5,000 jobs.

Jobs announced through September have an average incentivized hourly wage of $24.15 before benefits, a 10% increase over the 2020 figure, which was the second-highest full-year average in the past six years.

The automotive industry has been the top sector for investment and job creation this year at $6.6 billion and commitments to create more than 7,100 full-time jobs, solidifying an industry that already employs over 100,000 Kentucky residents at more than 525 suppliers and four assembly plants.

In September, Beshear, Ford Motor Co. Executive Chair Bill Ford and CEO Jim Farley, along with Dong-Seob Jee, president of SK Innovation’s battery business of South Korea, announced the single largest economic development project in the history of the commonwealth, celebrating a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs at BlueOvalSK in Elizabethtown.

Last week, Toyota announced a $461 million investment at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) plant in Georgetown for upgrades, including preparation for future vehicle electrification. The project will transition 1,400 indirect employees to direct Toyota roles.

Other top investment sectors include food, beverage and agritech ($1 billion); metals ($965 million); business/financial services ($558 million); plastics and rubber ($240 million); and logistics and distribution ($157 million). Rounding out the top-six sectors for job creation are business/financial services (2,515); metals (1,698); food, beverage and agritech (1,089); logistics and distribution (828); and health care (824). Companies in each of these industries continue to adopt advanced and innovative technologies to meet customer demand, prepare for the future and create jobs for Kentucky residents.

Companies have invested throughout the commonwealth in 2021, with noteworthy projects announced in every Local Workforce Development Area.

Along with Toyota’s investment in the Bluegrass region, AppHarvest announced a $42.5 million investment in Berea, which will create 60 full-time jobs, and Community Wellness Technology plans a $3 million investment that will create 445 jobs in Danville.

The Cumberlands region saw Firestone Industrial Products announce and break ground on a 250-job, $50 million-plus expansion in Whitley County. Chapin International, which also announced a new facility in Boyle County, added $8 million to its planned investment in Mount Vernon, pushing the total commitment to $13.9 million and doubling job creation to 200 positions at the facility.

GE Appliance Park in Louisville currently employ 6,000. It plans to hire an additional 1,000 workers by 2023.

In Eastern Kentucky’s EKCEP region, LION First Responder PPE announced plans to reopen its Beattyville manufacturing facility after more than a decade with an $850,000 investment that will create 75 jobs. Meanwhile, WellCare of Kentucky is nearly doubling its staff in Hazard with 18 new jobs in an expansion project that saw the community selected over locations in Nashville, Tennessee, San Antonio and Tempe, Arizona.

In the Green River region, Pratt Paper announced the largest investment in the region in more than 25 years, a $400 million paper mill that will create 321 well-paying jobs over the next five years in Henderson.

Last week in the KentuckianaWorks/Greater Louisville area, GE Appliances announced $450 million in new investment and over 1,000 jobs by the end of 2023. Also, KCC Manufacturing announced and broke ground on a new 700-job, $60 million manufacturing facility in Simpsonville, and Wieland North America announced a new headquarters in Louisville and copper recycling facility in Shelby County totaling 150 jobs and $108.8 million in investments.

In addition to Ford and SK Innovation’s investment in the Lincoln Trail region, Canada-based Kruger Packaging announced a $114 million commitment and 150 jobs in Hardin County to establish its first corrugated box plant in the United States.

Northern Kentucky announcements include Nucor’s $164 million, 72-job tube mill in Gallatin County and Fidelity Investments’ plans to add 600 employees in Covington, adding to hundreds of hires at the company since the start of 2020.

South Central Kentucky projects include Tyson Foods’ 451-job Bowling Green facility, also announced last week, which comes with a $355 million investment – the largest in a new facility in Warren County. In addition, Fruehauf Inc. announced plans to reestablish a U.S. presence with a $12 million investment to locate in Bowling Green and create 288 jobs.

West Kentucky announcements include $70 million from Ahlstrom-Munksjö to build a second facility in Madisonville, creating 51 jobs, and Metalsa Structural Products creating 97 jobs with a Hopkinsville expansion.

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