FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 9, 2016) – Kobe Steel Ltd., one of Japan’s leading metal producers, will locate an aluminum extrusion and fabrication facility next to a sister aluminum-forging plant in Bowling Green with a $46.7 million investment that will create 105 jobs, Gov. Matt Bevin announced today.
"Kobe's decision to locate its first North American extrusion facility in Kentucky speaks volumes about its positive experience in the Commonwealth over the past 11 years," Gov. Bevin said. "This type of growth is why we put so much focus on building strong relationships and serving the needs of Kentucky's current corporate citizens. It is a true pleasure to welcome Kobe's latest facility to our state."
Kobe will construct its new facility, Kobelco Aluminum Products & Extrusions Inc. (KPEX) near the existing Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products LLC (KAAP) plant on Central Avenue in the South Central Kentucky Industrial Park. Construction will begin in June with product fabrication operations expected to start by December 2017. Kobe executives anticipate the plant’s melting, casting and extrusion areas will begin production by October 2018.
The new facility will help capitalize on the automotive industry’s growing demand for aluminum products. Federal fuel-economy requirements and consumer preference for more efficient vehicles are driving that demand. Automakers use aluminum in bumper beams, suspension components, body framework and other areas to lighten vehicles.
“We’ve been supplying aluminum bumper materials to Japanese automakers since the 1990s, and now KPEX will enable us to provide our customers here with the same quality products to meet their requirements for lightweight components,” said Executive Vice President Akira Kaneko, who heads the Aluminum & Copper Business at Kobe Steel. “And through KPEX, we look forward to contributing to Bowling Green with capital investment, manufacturing growth and more jobs for people in the community,” he added.
Founded in 1905 and headquartered in Kobe and Tokyo, Kobe Steel operates worldwide under the Kobelco brand. The company added aluminum and copper supply to its lineup in 1917. Through a number of corporate subsidiaries, Kobe now offers a diverse range of products and services including welding materials, industrial machinery, infrastructure and facility engineering services and construction equipment. Kobe employs more than 36,000 people at 97 locations across 16 countries.
KAAP, the sister facility in Bowling Green, opened in 2005 and produces forged suspension components for cars and SUVs. The plant employs about 375 people. Last fall Kobe announced a $57 million expansion – KAAP’s sixth – that will add 112 jobs.
Sen. Mike Wilson, of Bowling Green, pointed to the success of KAAP in welcoming Kobe Steel’s new extrusion plant to the community.
“KAAP celebrated its 10th anniversary in Bowling Green last spring, and it has been a hugely successful addition to the region since locating here. That reputation is a major reason I am pleased to welcome Kobe Steel to Bowling Green. Kobe has proven to be a great economic development partner and I wish them success in the future,” Sen. Wilson said.
Rep. Jim DeCesare, of Bowling Green, welcomed the new plant and jobs associated with the announcement.
“Kobe’s decision to expand once again in Bowling Green with a substantial investment and the creation of 105 full-time jobs is great news for this growing community,” Rep. DeCesare said. “I thank the company for recognizing southcentral Kentucky as an ideal place to do business and look forward to watching it grow.”
Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said the new Kobe Steel plant will make a great fit within the community’s metal-fabrication industry.
“Bowling Green’s aluminum industry is flourishing and Kobe recognizes the potential for success and growth for their company here. We are excited to have them join our 45 other metal fabrication companies in southcentral Kentucky,” Mayor Wilkerson said.
Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said the region’s vibrant manufacturing sector helps attract additional plants.
“There are 59 automotive assembly plants within 500 miles of southcentral Kentucky. That makes the decision easy for a company like Kobe to locate here,” Judge Buchanon said. “Thank you to the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce for working with Kobe to make this project a reality.”
Bowling Green Chamber President and CEO Ron Bunch described Kobe as a top international company and welcomed its growing presence.
“We are delighted to have a first-class company like Kobe choose Bowling Green for their 98th location across the globe. We welcome Kobe to the area and we look forward to working with them as they grow,” Bunch said. “The impact 105 full-time jobs will have on southcentral Kentucky will improve the quality of life for many in our community.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarily approved Kobe for up to $2.5 million in tax incentives through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
Additionally, KEDFA approved Kobe for up to $200,000 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.
In addition, Kobe can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies are eligible to receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. Last year, the Kentucky Skills Network trained more than 84,000 employees from more than 5,600 Kentucky companies.
For more information on Kobe, visit www.Kobelco.co.jp/english/.
A detailed community profile for Bowling Green (Warren County) can be viewed here.