MADISONVILLE, Ky. (Oct. 4, 2023) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear joined local officials and company leadership from Ahlstrom, a manufacturer of fiber-based specialty materials, to cut the ribbon on the company’s new $68 million facility in Madisonville that is creating over 50 new full-time jobs.
“I want to congratulate Ahlstrom on this significant milestone in Madisonville,” said Gov. Beshear. “The company has been an important part of the community for nearly 50 years, and its new operation builds on the economic momentum we are seeing across the commonwealth. I want to thank the company’s leadership for allowing me to join them in cutting the ribbon on the new facility and I look forward to seeing Ahlstrom continue to thrive here in Kentucky.”
The new facility, announced in May 2021, will house a glass fiber tissue production line to make substrates for flooring materials such as luxury vinyl tiles and vinyl sheet materials. Its smooth, homogenous glass fiber tissue will also be marketed for building panels, energy storage and thermoplastic molding for the transportation industry. The company’s current 133-employee facility in Madisonville produces filtration materials for automotive and industrial applications.
“This investment demonstrates our commitment to Madisonville and to our customers in North America,” said Pekka Helynranta, Ahlstrom’s vice president of Glass Fiber Tissue. “The new glass fiber tissue line substantially enhances our regional technical capabilities, bolstering our capability to provide sustainable solutions for the building materials industry while also expanding our production capacity in America. This new platform will further strengthen our leadership in the glass fiber tissue market by consolidating our global position in flooring applications and also by giving us a unique platform to expand into other glass fiber tissue applications.”
Ahlstrom (formerly Ahlstrom-Munksjö) is a global leader in fiber-based specialty materials. The company serves five growing and distinctive end markets, which form the basis for its five divisions: filtration, food and consumer packaging, health care, building materials and technical materials. The company has operations in Europe, North America, South America and Asia and employs approximately 7,000 people across 37 plants globally. Ahlstrom has operated in Hopkins County since 1974.
Hopkins County Judge/Executive Jack Whitfield spoke on the company’s longstanding presence in the county: “Ahlstrom has once again proven itself to be one of our area’s top investors. Not only has the company been firmly planted in Madisonville since 1974 – it seizes every opportunity to expand, grow and help put Hopkins County on the map. This new production facility is the only one of its kind in the United States, and Ahlstrom leaders clearly chose to launch its American glass fiber tissue factory in the same place it has seen phenomenal success for the past 49 years. We are grateful to Ahlstrom and its relationship with the community, and we look forward to seeing the company advance in Madisonville for decades to come.”
Madisonville Mayor Kevin Cotton spoke on the community impact this project will have: “I am excited to celebrate not just the opening of a new facility at Ahlstrom, but the promise of prosperity, the power of partnership and the resilience of our community. This expansion signifies not only growth in infrastructure but also the growth of opportunities for our citizens. Ahlstrom’s investment isn’t just in steel and concrete; it’s an investment in Madisonville’s economic future, creating jobs and fostering innovation. Together, we’re building a stronger, more vibrant Madisonville for generations to come.”
Madisonville Hopkins County Economic Development Corp. President Bill Rudd showed his excitement for the project: “We are thrilled to witness Ahlstrom’s expansion in Madisonville. This move not only signifies their commitment to growth and innovation but also reinforces Madisonville’s position as a hub for sustainable and forward-thinking business endeavors. Their investment in our community underscores the promising future for both the company and Madisonville.”
Ahlstrom’s investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth.
The Governor announced in August that his administration secured the largest General Fund budget surplus and Rainy Day Fund in state history. Last month, Gov. Beshear reported that General Fund receipts for August 2023 totaled over $1 billion, marking the 12th straight month with revenues over $1 billion.
The General Fund budget surplus at the end of fiscal year 2023 was more than $1.55 billion. Nearly all of the $1.55 billion surplus will go into the commonwealth’s Rainy Day Fund, bringing the fund to a record balance of $3.7 billion – a 2,700% increase since Gov. Beshear took office in 2019.
This year, the Governor announced that Kentucky set the record for the longest period with the lowest unemployment rates in state history.
Since the beginning of his administration, Gov. Beshear has announced nearly 900 private-sector new-location and expansion projects totaling over $27.5 billion in announced investments, creating 48,000 jobs. This is the highest investment figure for any governor in state history.
The robust job creation has been accompanied by rising wages across the commonwealth. The average incentivized hourly wage in 2022 was $26.78 before benefits, the second-highest mark since 2010 and an 11.5% increase over the previous year.
The Governor also secured the best two-year period in state history for economic growth and announced the two largest economic development projects in state history. In September 2021, Gov. Beshear and leaders from Ford Motor Co. and SK On celebrated a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs in Hardin County. In April 2022, the Governor was joined by leadership at AESC to announce a $2 billion investment that will create 2,000 jobs in Warren County. These announcements solidify Kentucky as the EV battery production capital of the United States.
That position was strengthened even further in May 2023, when the Governor and leaders at Toyota announced a $591 million investment across multiple projects as the company’s largest manufacturing operation in Georgetown introduced its first battery electric vehicle. Growth within the EV sector continued into June as Gov. Beshear joined INFAC North America to break ground on the company’s $53 million investment to support EV-related production in Campbellsville.
Over a two-month period this year, Kentucky secured two credit rating increases from major agencies. On May 12, Gov. Beshear announced that his administration obtained the first state-level credit rating upgrade in 13 years and the first-ever upgrade from Fitch Ratings. On June 29, Gov. Beshear announced the commonwealth received its first-ever rating increase from S&P Global Ratings. In September, Moody’s Investors Service upgraded Kentucky’s credit outlook from stable to positive.
Site Selection magazine recently placed Kentucky first in the South Central region and top-5 nationally in its 2023 Prosperity Cup ranking, which recognizes state-level economic development agencies for their success in landing capital investment projects. The publication also placed Kentucky second nationwide and first in the South Central region for its annual Governor’s Cup ranking for 2022, which recognizes state-level economic success based on capital investments.
Gov. Beshear announced a new “Supply Kentucky” initiative with the goal of boosting job growth, reducing costs and providing more security in the supply chains of our Kentucky companies.
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in December 2018 preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide tax incentives based on the company’s investment and annual job and wage targets.
By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.
In addition, Ahlstrom can receive resources from Kentucky’s workforce service providers. Those include no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job-training incentives.
For more information on Ahlstrom, visit Ahlstrom.com.
A detailed community profile for Hopkins County can be viewed here.
Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at CED.ky.gov. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion at facebook.com/CEDkygov, on Twitter @CEDkygov, Instagram @CEDkygov and LinkedIn.