FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 22, 2021) – A startup manufacturer of building components is making its home in Kentucky, as today Gov. Andy Beshear announced SteelBlue Building Components LLC will locate in Frankfort, creating 146 well-paying jobs with a nearly $17.7 million investment.
“I want to welcome SteelBlue Building Components to Kentucky and the Frankfort community,” Gov. Beshear said. “Our state’s diverse manufacturing base is one of our greatest strengths and this new company will be an ideal fit as we continue to grow and create quality jobs for Kentucky residents. I’m thrilled to see SteelBlue breathe new life into an existing facility in Frankfort and I can’t wait to see the operation up and running in the near future.”
SteelBlue will locate in the existing 55,000-square-foot former Genesco shoe manufacturing facility on Hickory Drive in Frankfort. The facility will operate as the company’s primary manufacturing location of building components for the commercial construction industry. Company leaders noted the region’s central location within the U.S. market and access to key transportation components as major factors in the decision to locate in Franklin County. Jobs created at the facility will include machine operators, shipping personnel and various leadership and management positions. Work on the project is scheduled to begin in January and be completed by the end of 2022.
“We are excited about the opportunity to locate our company’s primary manufacturing facility in Franklin County, Kentucky,” said Rich Saginaw, president and CEO of SteelBlue. “Frankfort and the local workforce give us great optimism about the ability to accelerate our growth. Further, we are equally excited about the use of Kentucky’s logistics footprint to deliver exceptional customer service across the country. We would also like to thank the Governor’s Office, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and Kentucky Capital Development Corp. for all of their assistance in making this opportunity a reality.”
SteelBlue was formed in October 2021 by Rich Saginaw and Gary Brunette, who bring with them 50-plus years of combined experience within the building materials sector. In addition to building components, the startup company plans to produce additional commercial products that will add structural integrity to new projects and retrofitted commercial buildings.
SteelBlue adds to Kentucky’s manufacturing presence, which includes nearly 5,000 facilities that employ more than 250,000 people across the state.
Franklin County Judge/Executive Huston Wells said the project will help build the region’s reputation within the manufacturing sector.
“Companies like SteelBlue Building Components continue to invest in Frankfort because of our central location, excellent transportation system, world-class business climate and exceptional workforce,” Judge/Executive Wells said. “This $17.7 million investment will bring countless opportunities for local families and will play a major role in Frankfort’s continued success in job growth and talent development in the manufacturing sector.”
Frankfort Mayor Layne Wilkerson said the project will have a positive impact within the community.
“SteelBlue Building Components will be a wonderful addition to our community, and we welcome them with open arms. We share a recognition that Frankfort is a great place to invest and do business,” Mayor Wilkerson said. “Not only will SteelBlue create well over 100 local jobs, their nearly $18 million investment in the former Genesco shoe factory serves as a positive example of adaptive reuse within our city. Thanks to our partners in the Governor’s Office, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and Kentucky Capital Development Corp. for helping guide this project to our community.”
Terri Bradshaw, president/CEO of Kentucky Capital Development Corp., looks forward to a successful partnership with SteelBlue.
“Leadership at SteelBlue has been phenomenal to work with throughout the development of this project,” Bradshaw said. “This project will not only create 146 new jobs and renovate a building that has been empty for decades but will also bring a new entrepreneurial excitement to Frankfort. We are honored they chose Frankfort as their new home and we look forward to watching their dream come to fruition in our community.”
SteelBlue’s investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger in response to the effects of the pandemic.
This year, the commonwealth has shattered every economic development record in the books. Year-to-date, private-sector new-location and expansion announcements include a record $11 billion in total planned investment and commitments to create a record 17,000 full-time jobs across the coming years. Through September, Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage for projects statewide is $24.15 before benefits, a 10% increase over the previous year.
In September, Gov. Beshear, Ford Motor Co. Executive Chair Bill Ford, CEO Jim Farley and Dong-Seob Jee, president of SK Innovation’s battery business, announced the single largest economic development project in the history of the commonwealth, celebrating a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs and places Kentucky at the forefront of the automotive industry’s future.
In July, thanks to strong fiscal management by the Beshear administration, the state budget office reported the commonwealth ended the 2021 fiscal year with a general fund surplus of over $1.1 billion – the highest ever in the commonwealth – and a 10.9% increase in general fund receipts to $12.8 billion.
In May, Moody’s Analytics published a positive economic outlook for Kentucky, noting mass vaccination as the driving force behind a sustained recovery in consumer services. The state’s recovery, Moody’s said, benefited from earlier reopening efforts and increased demand for manufactured goods over services. The report also found Kentucky’s manufacturing industry outperformed the nation’s since the national downturn last year.
Fitch Ratings in May improved the state’s financial outlook to stable, reflecting the commonwealth’s solid economic recovery. The state’s April sales tax receipts set an all-time monthly record at $486.5 million, as did vehicle usage tax receipts at over $64 million.
In March, Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for 2020 positioned Kentucky atop the South Central region, and third nationally, for qualifying projects per capita. The commonwealth also placed seventh overall in total projects, the highest of any state with a population under 5 million. Site Selection also placed Kentucky in a tie for fifth in its 2021 Prosperity Cup rankings, positioning the state among the national leaders for business climate.
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) last week preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $1.5 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of nearly $17.7 million and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 146 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 10 years; and
- Paying an average hourly wage of $34 including benefits across those jobs.
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, SteelBlue 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.
A detailed community profile for Franklin 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.