July 30, 2018

Kentucky Economic Growth Reaches New Heights During Bevin Administration

More than $15 billion invested in commonwealth since December 2015


Business is booming in Kentucky, and it is thanks in large part to the state’s commitment to providing new and existing companies with a pro-business environment. Since Gov. Matt Bevin took office in December 2015, Kentucky’s economic development efforts broke record after record, and legislative changes – along with the governor’s mission to make Kentucky the hub for manufacturing and engineering excellence in America – have been the driving forces behind that success.

Through June of this year, Gov. Bevin’s tenure rendered the commonwealth an influx of nearly $15.4 billion in new corporate investment and more than 42,000 new full-time jobs as part of 840 new-location and expansion projects.

Three billion-dollar projects since the start of 2017 underpin that success, beginning with last January’s announcement of a $1.5 billion Amazon air shipping hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). The project expected creating 2,700 full- and part-time jobs. Amazon already employed more than 10,000 people at distribution facilities across the state.

Braidy Industries followed in April with its announcement that it will build a state-of-the-art aluminum mill in the northeastern Kentucky community of Ashland. The project since grew in scope to $1.5 billion and 600 full-time jobs and broke ground in May 2018. Also announced last April, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky renewed its commitment to the commonwealth with a $1.33 billion overhaul of its existing operation in Georgetown. Toyota followed that announcement by unveiling its new $80 million North American production engineering headquarters in October, also in Georgetown.

These announcements have gotten much of the attention, but they do not tell the full story of Kentucky’s recent success, as a number of new and existing companies are bringing jobs to the commonwealth. Just this month, Kroger announced its intentions to create 250 jobs at a distribution facility in Boone County, while last month, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated proposed a new sales and distribution operation in Erlanger that will create 430 jobs.

Looking back a bit further, EnerBlu capped a hugely successful year in Kentucky in 2017 when the high-power battery producer announced a $412 million investment and 985 jobs at operations in Pikeville and Lexington during a news conference in December.

Not only has the commonwealth as a whole seen economic success under the Bevin Administration, but projects like EnerBlu and Braidy Industries are injecting new life into the eastern Kentucky region. That impact trickles down to companies like AppHarvest, who in February 2017 announced plans to build a $50 million high-tech greenhouse in Pikeville. Not only will the project create 140 full-time jobs, but its location on a former surface coal mine is just one example of how companies are putting the region’s resources to use.

It is no accident that companies are selecting Kentucky for major projects. One of Gov. Bevin’s primary initiatives since taking office has been a renewed focus on making Kentucky a business friendly state. That commitment was on display during the 2017 legislative session, as Kentucky became a right-to-work state – sealing the deal to land Braidy Industries in the process. Other pro-business legislation in recent years has included the elimination of prevailing wages, efforts to find job opportunities for transitioning military members and updated workforce training initiatives.

The administration’s efforts in the latter category haven’t even been restricted to our borders. In March 2017, Gov. Bevin and leaders from Kentucky’s economic development, labor and workforce cabinets visited Germany and Switzerland to learn more about their innovative apprenticeship programs and how those strategies could be implemented in the commonwealth.

Making international connections has been a recurring theme under the Bevin Administration, and the result has been increased foreign direct investment (FDI) across the state. From various trade shows to the Select USA Investment Summit to face-to-face meetings with companies and officials in Canada, Germany, Japan and South Korea, among other countries, Gov. Bevin and his team are spreading the news that Kentucky is the ideal place to do business in the US.

A couple of examples of FDI projects resulting from or influenced by the administration’s international efforts include:

Takigawa Corp. | Bardstown

  • In December 2017, it was announced the company plans to establish its first US operation in Bardstown. Takigawa will invest nearly $46 million and create 180 jobs with an operation to manufacture flexible packaging and high-performance films. The announcement came just months after a Kentucky delegation met with the company at the 2017 Select USA Investment Summit.

Smart Wood | Corbin

  • In April 2016, a Kentucky delegation that included Gov. Bevin participated in the 2016 Hannover Messe Fair in Germany, and held economic development meetings with companies in France and Belgium. There, the delegation met with executives from French-owned Smart Wood – then known as Euro Sticks Group – to assist in finalizing the company’s commitment to construct its first US operation in Corbin. The company announced its intentions to locate in Kentucky just two months later, and celebrated the ribbon cutting of its 90-job, $15 million facility in October 2017.

Whether it be through FDI efforts, statewide policy changes or simply letting companies know their business matters to Kentuckians, the commonwealth has made major strides in economic development under the Bevin Administration. Based on the success of the past two-and-a-half years, there is plenty of reason to believe the sky is the limit in the years ahead.

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