Companies benefit from solid workforce, phenomenal logistics and government support
By Abby Laub
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer participated in the May 2017 groundbreaking of Linak U.S. Inc.’s $33 million expansion, which will create 413 full-time jobs. Linak’s expansion is emblematic of the high quality of the region’s manufacturing workforce.
Linak’s plant, which manufactures linear actuators for hospital beds, office desks, farm equipment and other uses, has steadily grown in the last 20 years. Thanks to Greater Louisville and Southern Indiana’s strategic location, abundance of water, government support, low cost of doing business and a formidable workforce, manufacturers can count on successful operation.
And while downtown may be known for production of the iconic Louisville Slugger baseball bat, the entire region is chock full of formidable manufacturing operations including Girl Scout Cookies, vehicles, bourbon, chemical catalysts, airline seating, billiard tables, automotive stamping, Pillsbury dough, water heaters and much more.
Some of the region’s biggest manufacturers, like Ford Motor Co., enjoy continued growth. In 2016 Ford announced an additional investment to support facility upgrades and new machinery and tooling, mainly for the Kentucky Truck Plant. In December 2015, Ford announced an investment of $1.3 billion and an additional 2,000 new jobs for production of the F-Series Super Duty truck. In June 2017 it announced Ford would build 8,500 additional Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC vehicles at Louisville Assembly Plant.
In Southern Indiana, River Ridge Development Authority anticipates another big year at its 6,000-acre Jeffersonville site. The board of directors of the megasite – it includes manufacturing and office space – approved a first round of projects for 2017 involving nearly $8 million in investment in infrastructure and demolition. In 2016, 30 projects were initiated and the completion of the nearby Lewis and Clark Bridge as part of the $2.3 billion Ohio River Bridges Project spurred a lot of development.
In Bullitt County, officials are ramping up development of more space for businesses, manufacturing or otherwise. The area benefits from having major logistical benefits and more available land.
Bullitt County Economic Development Authority Executive Director John Snider said the county has a strong automative manufacturing sector and that the area is all about “location no matter what. Staying close to I-65 pays,” he said. I-65 splits Bullitt north-south, and interstates 64 and 71 are only 11 miles away.
He said Bullitt plans to have roughly 2 million s.f. of new space built in the county in 2017, mostly in Cedar Grove Industrial Park, which already has almost 9.2 million s.f. Manufacturers also will benefit from new infrastructure.
“We expect Cedar Grove to have a new interchange to I-65 to be started next year,” he said. “Shepherdsville is spending $4.2 million for an access road.”
In Jeffersonville, Ind., America Place touts a business park with 20 brick buildings at dock height and nine ground buildings perfect for drive-in doors. It also has a build-to-suit park with spaces up to 300,000 s.f. America Places offers ideal options for printing, manufacturing, storage, office and distribution operations.
Manufacturing is a major industry in Hardin County also. Rick Games, president and COO of Elizabethtown/Hardin County Industrial Foundation, said manufacturing jobs represent 15.5 percent of total county employment.
Site Selection magazine ranked the Elizabethtown MSA ninth in corporate facility investment among MSAs with populations of 200,000 or less, and it made the Top 20 list for The U.S. Cities Where Manufacturing is Thriving. Also, the three-county MSA created 1,300 jobs last year; a growth rate of 2.3 percent compared to a national average of 1 percent, Games cited.
“Elizabethtown has benefited from nearly $300 million in industrial investments made in the last five years,” Games said. “These include Metalsa, Hendrickson, Altec and several other companies. During that time, we’ve had 11 major industrial location or expansion announcements. Netherlands-based Eurotrol is the latest.”
Games credits great logistics, fantastic manufacturing employees and the ability to draw people from outside the county for Hardin County’s success in this sector. Hardin County is part of the KY FAME’s Lincoln Trail chapter and has multiple technical career pathways in its local school systems.
The county is home to the two largest automotive suppliers in the state, Akebono Brake Corp. and Metalsa, which makes frames for the Ford F150. Roughly 750,000 truck frames roll out of the county every year.
In Louisville, FirstBuild continues to crank out new appliances. The partnership between Louisville-based GE Appliances and Local Motors includes a “microfactory” and is creating a new model for the appliance industry.
Future innovators also are continually on the mind of the region’s manufacturers. In April top robotic teams representing more than 30 nations competed in the 10th VEX Robotics World Championship at the Kentucky Exposition Center. The event draws 1,100 teams made up of 15,000 students ranging in age from elementary school through college. They are the best of the best, and have competed against 16,000 teams to advance to the championship. During VEX Worlds, these teams compete in games using robots constructed to overcome engineering challenges.
GE Appliances now conducts virtual tours of its Appliance Park plant in Louisville to Jefferson County students to help them learn about the types of careers modern manufacturing offers.
The work from educators, manufacturers and government officials alike is paying off as announcements continue to pour into the region.
Following is a sample of manufacturers based in the region. All are located in Louisville unless indicated.
Air filtration products
Jeffersonville, Ind. – airguard.com
Akebono Brake Corporation
Auto disc, drum brakes
Private-label peanut butter, jellies, preserves
American Fuji Seal Inc.
Container shrink labels
Bardstown, Ky. – afseal.com
American Greetings Corp.
Bardstown, Ky. –
American Printing House for the Blind Inc.
Educational, daily living products
Balfour Co. Inc.
High school/college announcements
Beach Mold & Tool Inc.
New Albany, Ind. – beachmold.com
Fiberoptic headlight systems
Bourbon Barrel Foods
Bowles Mattress Co.
Lady Americana mattresses
Jeffersonville, Ind. –
Caldwell Tanks Inc.
Steel water tanks, towers
Cardinal Aluminum Co.
Custom aluminum extrusions
Compass Manufacturing International
Kitchen, bath products
Interior moulding, trim
Campbellsville, Ky. –
Charlestown, Ind. – daiwa-da.com
Dawn Food Products Inc.
Bakery mixes, fillings, coatings
D. D. Williamson & Co.
Carmel food/beverage colorings
Derby City Shine
Derby Dental Laboratory
Crowns, bridges, dentures
Discount Labels Inc.
Labels, rubber stamps
New Albany, Ind. –
Drexel Metals Inc.
Metal roofing products
Country ham/seasoned bacon
Finchville – finchvillefarms.com
FireKing Security Group
Fireproof safes, files
New Albany, Ind. – fireking.com
Ford Motor Co.
Super Duty Trucks, F-250, F-550,
Expedition, Navigator, Escape
Water heaters, dishwashers,
Pillsbury refrigerated dough
New Albany, Ind. – generalmills.com
Beverage, food equipment
Haas Cabinet Co. Inc.
Sellersburg, Ind. – haascabinet.com
Hillerich & Bradsby Co. Inc.
Louisville Slugger baseball bats
Modular park buildings,
LaGrange, Ky. –
New Albany, Ind. – indco.com
Jeffersonville, Ind. – aclines.com
American Co. Inc.)
Automotive door sashes, moldings
Shelbyville, Ky. – kaci.com
Kelley Technical Coatings
Pool, deck tennis/basketball
Shelbyville, Ky. – ki-lumber.com
Custom vans, trailers
Kitchen Kompact Inc.
Jeffersonville, Ind. –
Linak U.S. Inc.
Healthcare equipment, furniture, desks
Little Brownie Bakers
Girl Scout cookies
Bed pillows, processed fiber
Louisville Golf Club Co.
Custom clubs under the Persimmon brand
Stone plates, bowls
Corn and flour products
Jeffersonville, Ind. – medventure.com
Engineered assembled metallic automotive products
Elizabethtown, Ky. – metalsa.com
Multi Packaging Solutions
Printer of home
Nationwide Uniform Corp.
Specialty envelopes, soft packages
Paradise Tomato Kitchens
Outdoor equipment transmissions
Salem, Ind. – peerlessgear.com
Biological products, research supplies
PPG Architectural Finishes Inc./Porter Paints
Residential paints, stains
Premier Packaging Inc.
Buechel, Ky. – prempack.com
Shepherdsville, Ky. – pubpress.com
Purnell’s “Old Folks” Sausage
Simpsonville, Ky. – itsgooo-od.com
Radio Sound Inc.
Raque Food Systems LLC
Food product-packaging machines
Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products Inc.
Frozen biscuits, pancakes, dry mixes
Defense weapons systems
Home storage, organization products
Jeffersontown, Ky. – rev-a-shelf.com
Restonic New Albany
New Albany, Ind. – restonic.com
Reynolds Packing Group
Rooibee Red Tea
Bottled organic tea
Electronic interconnect products
New Albany, Ind. – samtec.com
Stanley Black & Decker
Professional power tools
Shelbyville, Ky. –
Superior Van & Mobility
Vehicle mobility systems
Louisville – superiorvan.com
Sypris Solutions Inc.
Data acquisition/storage systems
Metal, automotive stampings,
Bardstown, Ky. –
Tyson Foods Inc.
Poultry deli products
Corydon, Ind. – tyson.com
Sewage pump systems