March 11, 2020

Businesses announce $5.3 billion in projects, 10,700 new full-time jobs for Kentucky during 2019

Metals production, automotive sectors lead corporate investment in the Bluegrass State


In 2019, Kentucky worked with private businesses to announce the planned creation of more than 10,700 full-time jobs for state residents across the coming years, part of 234 expansion and new-facility projects in which private-sector companies plan invest over $5.3 billion into the state.

Gov. Andy Beshear said those results indicate continued economic growth and corporate confidence in Kentucky as a location for business and workforce investment. As well, he highlighted the importance of the state’s efforts to create jobs for Kentuckians.

“Kentucky’s strengths in advanced manufacturing, logistics and tech innovation continue to grow jobs and attract corporate investment,” Gov. Beshear said. “Our skilled workforce, high quality of life and low costs of conducting business will help us continue to create jobs in the future. I look forward to a strong focus on increasing wages for our families and focusing on our counties who are not seeing these opportunities. We want to ensure every Kentuckian has the opportunity to secure a good-paying job in a career with a path to advance and succeed. We will continue to seek out business relationships that provide reliable, long-term jobs for our workforce.”

An interactive map of announced investment and job-creating projects is available here.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development uses a consistent methodology to track and regularly publish information on investment and job-creation announcements by private-sector manufacturing, service and technology businesses. To grow the state’s economy, the Cabinet works with the business community and partner organizations to help companies maintain and expand their current Kentucky operations. As well, the Cabinet and its partners recruit businesses globally and help facilitate a pro-startup culture to grow the commonwealth’s own innovations and ideas.

Last year’s $5.302 billion announced investment figure ranks as the state’s second-highest, just surpassing the $5.283 billion announced in 2018. Kentucky’s largest annual announced-investment performance came in 2017 with more than $8.7 billion in corporate projects announced.

In 2019, rural counties attracted 119 or nearly 51% of the 234 private-sector projects announced, while 115 went to the 10 most-populated counties; Jefferson, Fayette, Campbell, Boone, Kenton, Warren, Hardin, Daviess, Madison and Bullitt. Urban counties will claim nearly 6,500 of the new jobs announced and rural counties account for more than 4,300.

The Cabinet recruits only from private-sector industries for which it competes with other states; primarily manufacturing, service and technology companies. As such, the Cabinet’s annual announced job, project and investment totals do not include restaurant, retail, hospitality, patient-care facilities, non-profits, retail banking, schools, farms, governments or higher-education institutions.

The Cabinet works to recruit projects for all 120 Kentucky counties. While the Cabinet does not tell companies where to locate, its staff is committed to presenting companies with competitive and attractive options. To this end, the Cabinet and its partners also work with Kentucky communities to prepare them for success. In 2019, community-development measures included site-and-building enhancement programs, workforce training and pipeline initiatives as well as promotion of Kentucky Opportunity Zones.

In 2019, Kentucky saw substantial growth of existing companies, as the state attracted more projects and total investment from its current businesses than from new companies. Those businesses announced 197 expansion projects, accounting for more than $3.44 billion and 6,800 planned jobs. That compares with 37 new-location projects, expected to create more than $1.87 billion in investment and nearly 4,000 jobs.

Internationally owned companies in 2019 announced 42 projects, totaling $1.02 billion in planned investment and new 1,250 full-time jobs planned. Kentucky is currently home to more than 500 internationally owned facilities employing more than 111,000 people full-time. Of the 32 nations represented, Japanese (197), German (78) and French (38) companies maintain the largest presence.

The year’s top-five sectors by investment are primary metals, steel & iron production, automotive, distribution and logistics and aerospace.

The top-five jobs sectors for the year are aerospace, distribution and logistics, call centers, automotive and food and beverage.

The top-five projects by announced investment are Nucor Steel Brandenburg at $1.35 billion, UPS Worldport at $750 million, Ford Motor Co.’s Louisville Assembly Plant at $550 million, a $250 million investment by Apple into Corning Inc. and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky at $238 million.

The top-five projects by anticipated job creation are UPS Worldport at 1,000 proposed new jobs, Atlas Air at 593, Faneuil at 450 and Nucor Steel Brandenburg and Kentuckiana Curb Co. each at 400.

Export figures from Kentucky in 2019 remain on track to set a record for the fourth consecutive year. Through November – the latest figures available – Kentucky exported $30.31 billion in goods and services, up 3.6 percent from the same months of 2018. Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Brazil and Mexico were the state’s leading importers. Aerospace parts and products, motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals and medicines, motor vehicle parts and synthetic rubber and fibers ranked as the state’s top five products.

Kentucky’s unemployment rate remained low throughout 2019 and stood at 4.3 percent in December. The state’s labor force participation rate remained at record levels this year and was 59.3 percent for November.

A complete list of Kentucky’s 2019 announced projects is available here. Various reports, including the commonwealth’s existing industries and announced projects are available here.

Detailed profiles for communities across Kentucky can be viewed at www.selectkentucky.com.