Kristina Slattery
Kristina Slattery
Commissioner
Business Development

Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development
800.626.2930
502.564.7670
Kristina.Slattery@ky.gov

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Andy Beshear
Governor
Old Capitol Annex
300 West Broadway
Frankfort, KY 40601
Jeff Noel
Secretary
2022-10-20 10:56:17
For Immediate Release
 
Brandon Mattingly
502.782.2006


Gov. Beshear, Ascend Elements Break Ground on Hopkinsville Facility Creating up to 400 Full-Time Jobs, Nearly $1 Billion Investment

Company approved for $480 million in federal grants to boost EV battery production in the United States


FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 20, 2022) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear joined local officials in Christian County and leaders from Ascend Elements Inc., a manufacturer of advanced, sustainable battery materials made from recycled lithium-ion batteries, for the groundbreaking of the company’s largest operation in the United States, which has grown in scope to include up to a nearly $1 billion investment creating as many as 400 full-time jobs.

“Ascend Elements’ initial announcement made history as the largest development project in Christian County, but with recent announcements the investment has grown to nearly $1 billion and will create 400 full-time jobs, making it the single largest investment in Western Kentucky,” Gov. Beshear. “Kentucky has quickly become a national leader in the electric-vehicle space and a substantial supplier network that consists of innovative companies like Ascend Elements is the reason for that success. I want to thank the leaders at the company for this commitment to the commonwealth and I can’t wait to see Ascend Elements and the Hopkinsville community grow together.”

In August, company leaders announced an investment of $310 million, creating 250 full-time jobs. Yesterday, Gov. Beshear congratulated the company on more than $480 million in federal grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to support increased production of EV batteries and associated materials in the United States. With a recipient match from Ascend Elements, the project has the potential to exceed $960 million in planned investment.

The investment establishes the operation as the company’s largest in the United States. Apex 1, as the operation is known, is locating in a 450,000-square-foot facility on more than 140 acres in Hopkinsville’s Commerce Park II. The facility will include Ascend Elements’ innovative “hydro-to-cathode” process, a closed-loop direct precursor synthesis manufacturing system that generates no toxic waste and minimal carbon emissions. Once operational, the facility will produce enough recycled battery precursor and sustainable cathode active materials to equip up to 250,000 electric vehicles each year. The Hopkinsville operation will serve numerous EV-related customers and build on current partnerships, which include American Honda Motor Co., EcoPro Group and SK Battery America.

Company leaders anticipate Apex 1 will be operational in 2024 and create a $4.4 billion economic impact in Kentucky throughout construction and its first 10 years of operation. Jobs created at the facility will include engineers, chemists, warehouse associates and manufacturing operators.

“Today, we’ve begun building something that doesn’t exist anywhere in the United States – a domestic source of sustainable lithium-ion cathode material for EV batteries,” said Michael O’Kronley, CEO of Ascend Elements. “We’re in the middle of a global energy transformation and it’s critical that we produce lithium-ion battery material in the United States. Our future energy independence and national security depend on it.”

Westborough, Massachusetts-based Ascend Elements was founded in 2015. The company raises the value of the battery supply chain by manufacturing advanced battery materials using valuable elements reclaimed from used lithium-ion batteries. Ascend Elements maintains a mission to return 100% of battery active materials for production of new batteries and produces EV-grade, finished cathode active materials to meet or exceed performance requirements set by industry-leading brands.

Kentucky continues to stamp its place as a national leader in the rapidly growing EV market. Since June 2020, the commonwealth has seen over $9.2 billion in EV-related investments, with more than 8,500 full-time jobs announced by companies within the sector.

Christian County Judge/Executive Steve Tribble welcomed Ascend Elements to Kentucky.

“It’s my honor to support Ascend Elements as they ceremonially break ground in Commerce Park II in preparation for the site development and construction to come,” Judge Tribble said. “On behalf of all Christian Countians, I offer my heartfelt welcome to the company and its leadership and look forward to supporting their success for years to come!”

Hopkinsville Mayor Wendell Lynch said the city is eager to partner with the company.

“The citizens of Hopkinsville are very excited to welcome Ascend Elements as a new corporate partner,” Mayor Lynch said. “We look forward to a mutually bright future of growth and prosperity.”

Hopkinsville Industrial Foundation President John Crenshaw spoke on the positive impact this project will have for the community.

“I’m excited about the benefits and opportunities Ascend Elements will bring to the local community and the workforce the company will employ,” Crenshaw said. “That’s really what we’re all working to achieve, the ability to maintain and the opportunity to improve the standard of living in this place we call home.”

South Western Kentucky Economic Development Council Executive Director Carter Hendricks highlighted those who had a hand in making the project possible.

“We are excited to join Ascend Elements and sincerely appreciate their leadership for their investment and groundbreaking initially creating over 250 jobs and over $300 million in capital investment,” Hendricks said. “Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Andy Beshear, Mayor Wendell Lynch, Judge Steve Tribble and many more local, regional and state leaders, our region is better positioned to support Ascend Elements and develop Commerce Park II for future projects to come.”

TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley looks forward to a long-term partnership with Ascend Elements.

“TVA and Pennyrile RECC are proud to partner with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and South Western Kentucky Economic Development Council to support innovative companies like Ascend Elements,” Bradley said. “We congratulate the company on the groundbreaking today and look forward to its future success in the region.”

Ascend Elements’ investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.

In 2021, 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.

The economic momentum has carried strongly into 2022, with nearly $7.5 billion invested and more than 13,000 full-time jobs created just through September.

Since taking office, Gov. Beshear’s administration has welcomed $21 billion in investments that are creating 40,000 jobs, including the two largest economic development projects in state history. In September 2021, 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. And in April of this year, 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 EV battery production capital of the United States.

Kentucky’s success has been noted by both S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings, which have upgraded the state’s financial outlook to positive in recognition of the commonwealth’s surging economy. In addition, Site Selection magazine placed Kentucky at 6th in its annual Prosperity Cup rankings for 2022, which recognizes state-level economic success based on capital investments.

Kentucky has posted record-low unemployment rates for several consecutive months, holding at or below 3.9% since April 2022.

In July, the Governor reported the highest annual growth rate in 31 years. And for the second year in a row, Kentucky’s General Fund budget surplus has exceeded $1 billion. Also in July, Gov. Beshear reported that the state’s rainy day fund is up to a record balance of $2.7 billion, significantly higher than the $129 million balance the fund had when the Governor took office.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed Kentucky lead the entire nation in job growth for the month of August, adding 26,700 nonfarm payroll jobs.

In September, Kentucky reported August 2022 General Fund receipts hit an unprecedented high for any August on record, marking 21 straight months of growing revenues for the state. September was also the third highest revenue month on record with more than $1.4 billion reported, marking the seventh month this year with collections topping $1 billion.

To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in July preliminarily approved a 15-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.

Additionally, KEDFA approved Ascend Elements for up to $2 million 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, the company 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 Ascend Elements, visit AscendElements.com.

A detailed community profile for Christian 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.

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