FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 6, 2020) - Gov. Andy Beshear issued a proclamation today designating October as Manufacturing Month and applauded the industry's 4,500 facilities across the commonwealth for their continued commitment to building back Kentucky stronger than ever.
"During this year filled with widespread hardship, our manufacturing sector's importance has never been more apparent," Gov. Beshear said. "Between Kentucky manufacturers' continued contributions to the state's economy and their willingness to ramp up or retool operations to produce life-saving personal protective equipment, we have so much to be thankful for. Though a long road to recovery still lies ahead, we are already building a better Kentucky, and our state's manufacturing prowess are essential in accomplishing that mission."
As a keystone of Kentucky's economy, the state's manufacturing sector employs about 260,000 people, providing high-paying jobs and fulfilling careers for Kentuckians across the commonwealth. The state boasts an outsized role in manufacturing nationally, with more than 13% of its workforce employed in the sector, versus the national average of 8.5%. Kentucky's manufacturing facilities comprise a diverse spread of industries, from automotive to primary metals to food and beverage to aerospace.
Though Kentucky proved no exception in feeling the pandemic's economic devastation, businesses continue pledging investment and job creation in the commonwealth even amid uncertain times. For example, through September, food and beverage businesses announced over $450 million in planned investment expected to generate 930 full-time, Kentucky-resident jobs across the coming years. These totals compare favorably to announcements through the same period in 2019, during which companies in the industry pledged to invest $236 million and create just over 700 new jobs in the commonwealth.
Since Gov. Beshear took office last December, manufacturers in total have announced approximately $1.2 billion in planned investment, with the potential to generate over 4,300 full-time jobs for Kentuckians across the state in the coming years.
Kentucky's manufacturers have displayed tremendous resiliency throughout the COVID-19 crisis, said Lee Lingo, executive director for the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (KAM).
"Manufacturing was crucial in keeping Kentucky's economy going during the first wave of COVID-19. While other businesses were shut down, manufacturers remained open and continued to pump much-needed capital into Kentucky's economy through taxes, retaining and paying employees and ensuring the continuity of the supply chain." Lingo said. "Kentucky's manufacturers sincerely appreciate Gov. Beshear's recognition of manufacturing as a critical essential sector in Kentucky, as well as the administration's willingness to work with Kentucky manufacturers to create stringent yet reasonable Healthy at Work protocols that allowed manufacturers to continue operating safely."
While these protocols helped keep employees safe while allowing manufacturers to continue producing vital goods for Kentuckians and citizens across the U.S., they also enabled manufactures to contribute directly in the fight against COVID-19. Kentucky producers of all sizes retooled and repurposed some or all of their operations to focus on the production of PPE and sanitizer to ensure Kentuckians had proper, accessible supplies to curb the spread of the disease.
The same factors that helped Kentucky become a manufacturing powerhouse also have the state well-positioned for future growth. One such advantage is Kentucky's ideal central geographic location, which places the state within a day's drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population and income. That centrality enables manufacturers to quickly distribute their products to key U.S. markets, while global air cargo hubs by UPS, DHL and Amazon provide fast and reliable distribution overnight across the globe.
The state also offers the lowest-cost industrial electric east of the Mississippi River, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The state's affordability garners attention from primary metals manufacturers, including producers of steel, aluminum and stainless steel, recycling facilities and metals processors.
Additionally, this abundance of aluminum and steel production and downstream processing provides Kentucky's manufacturers easy access to input materials. The state's array of primary metals producers help to power a dominant automotive industry in Kentucky, which rolls out more passenger vehicles per capita than any other state and ranks third overall in the category. The industry supports more than 100,000 jobs throughout the commonwealth.
Learn more about Kentucky's manufacturing sector by clicking here. Information on the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers is available here. Throughout the month of October, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development will highlight Kentucky-made products or manufacturers operating across the state. Follow along on Facebook and Twitter.