FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 3, 2023) – Gov. Andy Beshear has designated October as Manufacturing Month in the commonwealth as the sector continues to be at the center of Kentucky’s record economic growth and job creation with approximately 5,000 facilities statewide employing more than 250,000 Kentuckians.
“We could not have the tremendous economic success we’ve had these past three years if not for our expansive manufacturing network,” Gov. Beshear said. “From our diverse food and beverage industry to primary metals to the automotive and electric vehicle market that is reaching new heights every year, manufacturing is at the center of our recent success and that will continue to be true for decades to come. Thank you to every manufacturer creating great jobs for Kentuckians and distributing Kentucky-made products around the globe.”
Manufacturing has been a central part of Kentucky’s best two years on record for private-sector growth in 2021 and 2022, as well as the state’s continued momentum into 2023. The industry helps to encourage rising wages for families throughout the commonwealth. Kentucky is a national leader within the U.S. manufacturing base, as the sector is represented by approximately 12.5% of the state’s workforce, significantly above the national average of 8.1%. The industry also contributes $46 billion annually to the state’s gross domestic product. Manufacturers factor in the success of several key industries in the commonwealth, including automotive and EV, aerospace, distribution and logistics, metals, health care, food and beverage, agritech and numerous others.
Since the start of the Beshear administration, manufacturing projects have contributed to more than 600 private-sector new-location and expansion announcements that are creating approximately 31,000 full-time jobs for Kentuckians with roughly $23 billion in new investment.
In 2022, manufacturing was responsible for $8.3 billion in new investment and more than 8,900 full-time jobs for Kentuckians. That’s 79% of all corporate investment announced in the commonwealth for the year and nearly 56% of all job creation.
Manufacturing growth has continued into 2023, with 54 manufacturing-related projects announced year-to-date that are contributing to nearly $2.5 billion in new investment and nearly 4,000 full-time jobs. That success is supported by a growing number of well-paying job opportunities for Kentuckians. Through September, Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage is $28.30 before benefits, ahead of the full-year figure for 2022 of $26.78.
Frank Jemley, president and CEO of the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (KAM), thanked the thousands of companies that help make the commonwealth a national leader in the industry. “Manufacturing Month offers all of us an opportunity to celebrate and thank the quarter-million Kentuckians at the 3,000-plus manufacturing companies around the commonwealth whose dedication and innovation are the reasons Kentucky has become a top location to make world-class products. Through their hard work and creativity, those 250,000 Kentuckians are creating even more opportunities for the citizens of our great state, since manufacturing is the bedrock of every aspect of our economy and therefore every Kentucky community, big and small.”
In March, 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. At the center of that initiative is CONNEX Kentucky, an online platform established through a partnership between the Cabinet for Economic Development and the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (KAM) that provides a searchable supply chain database for manufacturers throughout the state.
Membership to the CONNEX Kentucky marketplace is provided for free to all manufacturers within Kentucky, with access to the national marketplace available for a small fee. More information about the program and a link to sign up can be found at kam.us.com/connexkentucky.
Manufacturers looking to locate a new facility or expand existing operations find that the commonwealth provides all the needed resources to accommodate long-term growth. Kentucky’s ideal central geographic location places the state within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population and income. Combined with state-of-the-art infrastructure, Kentucky’s location allows manufacturers to quickly distribute products to key U.S. markets, while global air cargo hubs in Louisville and Northern Kentucky by UPS, DHL and Amazon provide fast and reliable distribution overnight anywhere in the world. Low business costs, including among the lowest industrial electric costs in the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, ensure companies can continue to grow and create great jobs for Kentuckians.
The celebration of Manufacturing Month in Kentucky builds on recent economic momentum in the commonwealth.
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.
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 and the Governor’s official social media accounts Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.