FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 28, 2022) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear noted continued economic growth in Western Kentucky as he announced Columbia Brands USA LLC, a manufacturer of apparel and footwear products, will expand its presence in Henderson County with a $3.7 million investment in its existing distribution operation creating 175 full-time jobs.
“Thank you to the leaders at Columbia Brands USA for this commitment in Kentucky’s workforce and the Henderson County community,” Gov. Beshear said. “Companies continue to grow their distribution operations in the commonwealth, capitalizing on our ideal geographic location and logistics strength. It is great to see Columbia expand its presence in Western Kentucky, and I hope to see even more growth in the future.”
Through this project, leaders at Columbia will invest in facility upgrades and new equipment to accommodate the relocation of a performance fishing gear line from the company’s distribution facility in Oregon. New jobs created will include warehouse associates and supervisory positions. Upgrades at the 520,000-square-foot distribution center in Robards are expected to begin this May and be completed by May 2023.
“We’ve had a distribution center in Kentucky since 2004,” said Tim Boyle, president, CEO and chairman of the board at Columbia. “We think investing in this area will be good for our business, strengthening our supply chain and allowing us to hire top-notch talent.”
“Our distribution center in Henderson County continues to advance new processing capabilities,” added Alonzo Plater, the company’s vice president of global distribution. “Investment in this area will help us achieve our goal to get our products into the hands of our customers and consumers in the timeliest manner possible. “
Columbia Brands USA, a subsidiary of Columbia Sportswear Co., is based in Oregon, where it was established in 2003. The company sells and distributes branded apparel and footwear products throughout the U.S., including Columbia, Sorel, Montrail, prAna and Mountain Hardwear. Columbia operates one of its two U.S. distribution centers in Robards, where it currently employs nearly 200 people.
Columbia is part of Kentucky’s expansive logistics and distribution network. Since the start of the Beshear administration, the sector has announced more than 4,000 full-time, Kentucky-resident jobs across more than 80 facility expansion and new-location projects with $563 million in private-sector investment in the commonwealth.
State Sen. Robby Mills welcomed the company’s expansion in Kentucky.
“It is exciting to hear that a signature, existing industry is choosing to expand in Northwest Kentucky,” Sen. Mills said. “We have worked hard to make Kentucky friendly to industrial investment and this announcement proves our efforts have been recognized. Congratulations to Columbia, and welcome to their performance fishing gear line!”
State Rep. Jonathan Dixon thanked the company for its faith in the local workforce.
“Columbia has been a great community partner over the years. Their continued investment in our area is a testament to the company's commitment to our people and is greatly appreciated,” Rep. Dixon said.
Henderson County Judge/Executive Brad Schneider noted the partnerships that helped keep the project in the commonwealth.
“We are truly grateful for the continued investments Columbia Sportswear is making in our region. We’re certain this project will help Columbia achieve its strategic goals. This expansion will benefit citizens throughout Northwest Kentucky,” Judge/Executive Schneider said. “We’re also thankful to have strong partnerships with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Henderson Economic Development and the board of directors of 4 Star Industrial Park, with whom Henderson County Fiscal Court worked to provide the incentives needed to seal the deal. Congratulations, Columbia!”
Doug Bell, West Kentucky Regional Industrial Development board chair, said Columbia’s continued growth reflects its strength as an employer in the region.
“This is an exciting day for both 4 Star Industrial Park and Columbia Sportswear,” Bell said. “Columbia has been a tremendous corporate citizen and to see this capital expansion job creation exemplifies what we have known for many years.”
Columbia’s investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.
Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for 2021 recently placed Kentucky atop the South Central region, and third nationally, for qualifying projects per capita.
Gov. Beshear recently announced that on Jan. 28, S&P Global Ratings revised Kentucky’s financial outlook to positive from stable and affirmed its “A-” credit rating. S&P cited a reduced reliance on one-time items to balance the budget and a higher balance in the state’s rainy-day fund as primary factors influencing the change.
That follows a 2021 during which the commonwealth shattered every economic development record in the books. Private-sector new-location and expansion announcements included a record $11.2 billion in total planned investment and commitments to create a record 18,000-plus full-time jobs across the coming years. Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage for projects statewide in 2021 was $24 before benefits, a 9.4% increase over the previous year.
In recent months, the commonwealth has announced the two largest economic development projects in state history. In September, Gov. Beshear and leaders from Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation celebrated a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs in Hardin County. Earlier this month, the Governor was joined by leadership at Envision AESC to announce a $2 billion investment that will create 2,000 jobs in Warren County. These announcements solidify Kentucky as the national leader in EV battery production.
Columbia’s commitment also continues recent economic growth in Western Kentucky. Since the start of the Beshear administration, companies in the region have announced more than 90 new-location and expansion projects totaling over $1.7 billion in new investments and creating more than 2,400 full-time jobs.
Kentucky also saw an all-time, record-setting budget surplus in fiscal year 2021 and entered 2022 with an estimated $1.9 billion more than budgeted.
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) today preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $2.2 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $3.7 million and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 175 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 10 years; and
- Paying an average hourly wage of $24 including benefits across those jobs.
Additionally, KEDFA approved the company for up to $100,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
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, Columbia 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 Columbia Brands USA, visit Columbia.com.
A detailed community profile for Henderson 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.