FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear announced this year’s books have officially closed on another successful year of economic growth in Kentucky, concluding the best two-year period for announced private-sector investment and job creation in state history.
This year, 248 private-sector new-location and expansion projects committed to investing nearly $10.5 billion and creating 16,000 full-time jobs. Those figures position 2022 as Kentucky’s second-highest year for new investment, behind 2021’s record year.
Wages continue to rise in the commonwealth as well. Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage for projects statewide in 2022 was $26.78 before benefits, an 11.5% increase over the 2021 mark of $24 and the second highest over eight years.
“The past year has held many challenges for the commonwealth, from our continued fight against the pandemic and efforts to recover from the tornadoes that hit Western Kentucky a year ago to the July flooding that impacted so many lives in Eastern Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear. “But it has also been a year of new opportunities, and we have many reasons to believe the future has never been brighter in the commonwealth. Not only does this year mark the best two-year period for economic growth in Kentucky, it also brought significantly increased wages for Kentucky families, a record high for investment in the bourbon and spirits industry, and a diverse economy that now includes the rapidly growing electric-vehicle sector that can support our workforce for generations to come. I want to thank every company that has put down roots in the commonwealth and put their faith in Kentuckians. I look forward to continuing this momentum and improving our economy in 2023.”
Since the start of the Beshear administration in December 2019, more than 800 new location and expansion projects have contributed to over $24 billion in new investments and more than 42,600 full-time jobs announced.
This year included record investment and job growth in the bourbon and spirits industry, including the sector’s largest investment in state history. In November, Gov. Beshear and leaders at Sazerac Co., a Louisville-based distillery, announced a $600 million investment to construct new warehouses and expand the Robinson and Stave Cumberland Cooperage in Laurel County. This will create 50 new full-time jobs and further Kentucky’s position as the top bourbon producer in the world – with 95% of the world’s bourbon being produced in the Commonwealth.
The record-breaking project is at the center of an all-time high in the Kentucky bourbon and spirits industry, which in 2022 included more than 30 announcements totaling $2.18 billion in new investments and approximately 730 full-time jobs.
Another major driver of the commonwealth’s continued economic momentum is the quickly expanding electric vehicle sector. In April of this year, Gov. Beshear was joined by leadership at Envision AESC to announce the state’s second-largest economic development project in history. This $2 billion investment will create 2,000 jobs in Warren County. With Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation celebrating the largest economic development project in state history in 2021, these announcements solidify Kentucky as a national leader in EV battery production.
Overall, Kentucky’s automotive industry saw 37 announcements totaling $4.21 billion in new investments and 4,200 full-time positions created as companies prepare for a future that will rely more heavily on electric power.
Manufacturers continue to drive Kentucky’s economic growth, contributing to over 8,900 of the announced jobs over the past year with $8.27 billion in new investments. Kentucky is home to approximately 5,000 manufacturing facilities that employ around 250,000 residents.
Logistics and distribution played a significant role in bringing projects across multiple industries to the commonwealth, relying on Kentucky’s ideal geographic location within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population and three key international shipping hubs operated by Amazon, DHL and UPS. The sector announced 42 new location and expansion projects this year totaling $1.66 billion in new investments and creating 4,200 full-time positions.
Healthcare-related projects also contributed to this year’s economic development growth, with companies like UPS, which announced more than $330 million in investments to boost the health care supply chain, and Catalent Pharma locating or expanding in Kentucky. The commonwealth saw 19 announcements for the healthcare industry totaling $761 million in new investments and 1,550 new jobs created.
Other key industry growth across the state includes the food, beverage and agritech sector, with more than $2.55 billion in new investments across 56 projects that will create 1,750 full-time jobs, including in Kentucky’s signature bourbon industry.
Metals-related operations announced 20 new-location or expansion projects in 2022 that will create over 900 jobs with $996 million in announced investments.
In 2022, internationally owned facilities announced a total investment of $3.91 billion and nearly 3,400 new jobs for Kentuckians.
Kentucky’s economic momentum extends to small business and workforce initiatives as well. In 2022, 138 Kentucky businesses capitalized on the Kentucky Small Business Tax Credit (KSBTC), creating 402 jobs with over $3.5 million in reinvestment. In the fiscal year 2022, facilities across the state were approved for approximately $6.2 million in grants and $2.2 million in credits through the Bluegrass State Skills Corp. (BSSC) to support training for nearly 35,000 Kentucky workers. Through the first half of fiscal year 2023, an additional $3.9 million in BSSC training funds and credits have been approved to assist workforce development efforts for more than 12,700 trainees across nearly 59 facilities.
Kentucky’s investment and planned job creation this year further recent economic momentum in the commonwealth as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.
Kentucky’s success has been noted by both S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings, which have upgraded the state’s financial outlook to positive in recognition of the commonwealth’s surging economy. In addition, Site Selection magazine placed Kentucky at 6th in its annual Prosperity Cup rankings for 2022, recognizing state-level economic success based on capital investments.
In July, the Governor reported the highest annual growth rate in 31 years. And for the second year in a row, Kentucky’s General Fund budget surplus has exceeded $1 billion. Also in July, Gov. Beshear reported that the state’s rainy day fund is up to a record balance of $2.7 billion, significantly higher than the $129 million balance the fund had when the Governor took office.
Kentucky reported August 2022 General Fund receipts hit an unprecedented high for any August on record, marking 21 straight months of growing revenues for the state.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed Kentucky led the entire nation in job growth for August and tied with New Hampshire for the largest jump in employment growth for September.
September was also the third highest revenue month on record, with more than $1.4 billion reported, marking the seventh month this year with collections topping $1 billion.
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