WINCHESTER, Ky. (Feb. 14, 2023) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear joined leaders from Wilde Brands Inc. – a producer of high-protein, low-carb snack chips made from all-natural chicken breast, egg whites and bone broth – for a flag-raising ceremony at their new Winchester facility.
In September 2020, Wilde Brands announced plans for a $9.78 million, 50-job production and distribution facility in Clark County. Due to the rapid growth of the company, it now employs 100 workers with plans to hire an additional 50 in the coming months.
“In Kentucky, we are focused on continuing the economic momentum we’re currently experiencing,” said Gov. Beshear. “Companies like Wilde Brands choosing the commonwealth and continuing to grow here make this economic momentum possible. I’d like to thank Jason Wright, Wilde Brands’ CEO, and his team for achieving their timeline and inviting me to join in on the flag raising ceremony for the Central Kentucky facility.”
The Wilde Brands facility has increased in size from 50,000 square feet to more than 117,000 square feet over the last two years and has doubled the amount of equipment at the location. Tierney Storage, which owns the building in which Wilde Brands has located, has developed over 1.5 million square feet of commercial warehouse space in Winchester, Frankfort and Lexington.
“Success cannot happen without great people,” said CEO Jason Wright, “Patrick and Ron Tierney have supported me and Wilde and treated my team like family since arriving in Winchester. We are thrilled to be expanding our operations just two years from opening our first production facility. This expansion will allow us to better serve our customers and provide a path to creating new protein snacks beyond our Wilde Protein Chips.”
Wilde Brands was founded in 2017 in Boulder, Colorado, with the goal to replace the potato with protein using chicken breast. To create a healthier alternative to potato chips, Wilde Brands developed a proprietary production process using custom-engineered manufacturing equipment to produce a first-to-market protein chip crafted from chicken breast, egg white and bone broth. The current lineup of Wilde Brands’ protein chips includes Buffalo, Nashville Hot, Chicken & Waffles, Himalayan Pink Salt, Sea Salt & Vinegar, and Barbeque. The location in Winchester has allowed the company to increase production volume, expand U.S. sales and meet growing customer demand.
The company joins Kentucky’s food and beverage industry, which currently includes more than 420 facilities employing over 57,000 people. Administration-to-date, companies within the industry have announced 167 new-location and expansion projects totaling $4.5 billion and roughly 4,700 full-time jobs for Kentuckians. In 2022 alone, food and beverage companies announced 56 new-location or expansion projects totaling over $2.5 billion in future investment and nearly 1,800 jobs announced.
Tierney Storage Vice President Patrick Tierney spoke on the prime location of Central Kentucky.
“Wilde Brands is the perfect example of how Kentucky continues to be one of the nationwide leaders in economic development. They wanted to come to Central Kentucky for the main reason of distribution and how beneficial it is to be located in this area with direct distribution to over 70% of the United States,” said Tierney. “We, Tierney Storage, have been building spec commercial warehouses in Central Kentucky for 20 years, but more specifically over the past seven years, we have focused on building spec warehouses knowing that the demand is there. In that time, we have built close to 1 million square feet of spec buildings that all have been leased prior to completion of the warehouses. Thanks to Gov. Beshear and his administration, the demand for more opportunities, like what Wilde Brands has done, continues to happen for our great state.”
Clark County Judge/Executive Les Yates mentioned the commitment and investment of Wilde Brands to expand in the community, exemplifying how Clark County is a great place to do business.
“Our community is very pleased to work with Wilde Brands on their announced expansion,” Judge Yates said. “They continually work with our local governments to increase the quality-of-life opportunities for our citizens. They are a wonderful corporate citizen, and we are fortunate to have them in our community.”
Winchester Mayor JoEllen Reed noted the importance of Wilde Brands’ continued growth.
“The Winchester-Clark County community is pleased that Wilde Brands has chosen to expand their operations here and thereby add many new, good-paying jobs and investment to our business and economic base,” Mayor Reed said. “Wilde Brands is an important corporate citizen, and we value highly their investment and contributions to our community.”
Winchester-Clark County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) Director Brad Sowden talked about the innovativeness of Wilde Brands.
“When you think about Wilde Brands, innovation comes to mind. Jason Wright and his team exemplify innovation. Not only do they produce a unique quality product, but they are quality corporate citizens in our community,” said Sowden. “Winchester and Clark County worked collectively and tirelessly back in 2020 to support Wilde Brands locating here, and we continue that dedication to supporting their growth and success.”
Wilde Brands investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.
Since the beginning of his administration, Gov. Beshear has announced the creation of 43,200 full-time jobs and 828 private-sector new-location and expansion projects totaling $24.6 billion in announced investments.
With the books closed on 2022, the Governor has now secured the best two-year period in state history for economic growth.
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.
That momentum continued strongly into 2022 with 248 new-location and expansion announcements totaling 16,000 full-time jobs behind nearly $10.5 billion in new investment.
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.
Gov. Beshear also announced 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 2022, 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.
Gov. Beshear’s administration is projected to post the four highest years of budget surpluses in Kentucky history, and the state’s rainy day fund has a record balance of $2.7 billion.
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in September 2020 preliminarily approved an incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program.
For more information on Wilde Brands, visit WildeBrands.com.
A detailed community profile for Clark 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.
Read about other key updates, actions and information from Gov. Beshear and his administration at governor.ky.gov, kycovid19.ky.gov and the Governor’s official social media accounts Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.