Despite the economic difficulties of the past several months, Kentucky continues to attract new job-creating investments and a number of previously announced new-location and expansion projects are moving ahead as well.
As the state reopens, those trends bode well for the commonwealth's longer-term economic prospects. Kentucky's existing advantages - including its ideal geographic location, skilled workforce, strong manufacturing base and a leading distribution and logistics industry - will only add more momentum.
In May, Kentucky saw eight new projects announced, totaling $117.6 million in planned investment and promising to create nearly 760 new full-time jobs in the coming years. Those figures compare well to the pre-pandemic months of January - with $50 million and 342 announced jobs - and February with $337 million in planned investment and 691 new jobs.
Progress on multiple previously announced projects rolls forward. For example, site work recently began for a $147 million project in Bowling Green by CROWN Cork and Seal USA, a subsidiary of Crown Holdings Inc. The construction, in accordance with the state's Healthy at Work guidelines, will see the company build a 126-job facility to manufacture beverage cans.
"We are glad to see companies like Crown, Dajcor Aluminum and Boxvana forge forward with their projects while adhering to Healthy at Work guidelines," Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said. "We want to continue to support business growth in the commonwealth while navigating the challenges presented by this pandemic, and so far, we've been able to do that. The qualities that make Kentucky a great place to do business have not changed and these companies recognize that." - DRAFT
In late 2019, Dajcor, a Canada-based manufacturer of aluminum products, began renovations of a facility in Hazard with a $19.6 million investment that would create 265 jobs. Also located in Eastern Kentucky, Boxvana, a manufacturer of modular "tiny" homes, began operations at its Martin County facility in April after announcing the $2.3 million, 25-job project this past December.
Job and investment numbers since Gov. Beshear took office highlight ongoing growth of Kentucky's business sector. Since Dec. 10, the state recorded 124 proposed new or expansion projects across a range of industries totaling more than $1 billion in planned investment. Those projects promise to create nearly 3,900 full-time jobs across the coming years. Geographically, the projects cover nearly every corner of the state and provide reason for optimism for thousands of Kentuckians.
As Gov. Beshear noted, Kentucky's strengths for attracting new business both withstood the difficult economic climate of the past few months and have been emphasized by it. In no area has that been more apparent than the commonwealth's distribution and logistics industry, which met the rocketing demand for home-delivery services. The major air shipping hubs of UPS Worldport, DHL and Amazon Air, along with the hundreds of warehouses and trucking operations throughout Kentucky, have risen to the challenge. The state's dedicated logistics-industry workforce exemplifies what Kentucky offers prospective businesses.
Helping to keep Kentucky's momentum moving forward, the state's leaders are working to reopen and rejuvenate the local economy safely and effectively. Gov. Beshear's Healthy at Work reopening plan includes industry-specific guidelines to help business leaders understand the new expectations and how best to prepare their employees for a return to the workplace. A number of businesses have already resumed operations in some capacity, and others will follow in the weeks ahead. For more information on Kentucky's reopening plan, visit www.govstatus.egov.com/ky-healthy-at-work.
State and local economic development leaders have already begun looking ahead at how the economic landscape could change in the post-COVID-19 marketplace. Companies across several industries are expected to evaluate the need to onshore operations, and Kentucky's existing, diverse manufacturing footprint, logistical prowess and low business costs could be major factors as companies expand their US operations to better serve customers nationwide.
The coming months could see a rapidly changing economic ecosystem, and Kentucky is poised to provide a home for businesses looking to grow.