Business attraction, expansion projects would add more than 1,200 jobs in Kentucky

Business attraction, expansion projects would add more than 1,200 jobs in Kentucky

February 4, 2022 0 By Steve Bittenbender

Kentucky appears poised to build on the state’s record-setting economic development numbers from 2021. That’s according to announcements made by Gov. Andy Beshear late last week.

The governor’s office said seven businesses have chosen the Bluegrass State for major expansion or new facility projects. Combined, those projects would create more than 1,200 new jobs and bring in more than $290 million in new investments.

Last year, the state reported economic development investments totaling $11.2 billion and more than 18,000 new jobs in the coming years. Those figures were led by the $5.8 billion electric vehicle battery plant Ford Motor Company plans to build in Glendale.

In a statement, Beshear said the continued growth is a testament to the business climate in the state.

“In the time I’ve been governor, we’ve broken every record in the books for economic development, but we’ve never had a January quite this good,” he said.

The seven projects announced are for facilities in Louisville or Northern Kentucky.

The largest announcement from a jobs perspective came from Confluent Health. The company plans to build a new headquarters in Louisville. That would add 350 new jobs for the physical and occupational therapy company.

The new jobs would have an average hourly wage of $37.50 plus benefits. Confluent plans to invest $10 million in the project, which is set to open later this year.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Confluent’s announcement shows the city is a leader in the healthcare industry.

“We are excited to celebrate Confluent Health’s rapid growth nationwide and the expansion of its Louisville headquarters that will bring hundreds of additional good jobs to our city,” Fischer said in a statement.

On Thursday, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) approved Confluent for up to $3.5 million in tax incentives based on hitting its job creation and salary targets and eligible investment costs of $8.6 million.

KEDFA also approved incentives for Levi Strauss & Co., which plans to build a $48 million e-commerce facility in Erlanger that will create 300 new jobs.

Those positions would have an average wage of $27.13, and the facility is expected to be operational next year. It would be the company’s third facility in Northern Kentucky, where it operates two distribution centers in Hebron.

“We are excited to expand both our commercial relationship with Kentucky and our distribution network for American consumers,” said Stephen Berube, senior vice president of Global Logistics and Distribution at Levi Strauss & Co. “We’ve seen in our existing facilities that the commonwealth has been a terrific partner to date, and we know that its top-tier workforce can help us execute on our plans going forward.”

KEDFA approved Levi Strauss for up to $900,000 in incentives on Thursday.

The largest investment comes from Quadrant, which plans to build a $95 million facility in Louisville for rare-earth magnet manufacturing. The 171,000-square-foot facility would employ 200 workers and be the company’s first manufacturing plant in the U.S.

The company was approved for up to $3.4 million in tax incentives based on investment and job estimates. The new jobs would have an average wage of $28.15 an hour.

Agritech company 80 Acres Farms plans to invest $74 million in a vertical farming facility in Boone County in Northern Kentucky that would employ 125 workers.

The company would utilize a 200,000-square-foot facility and is slated to become operational in the third quarter of this year. The facility would also host packaging and distribution operations for greens, berries and tomatoes that would be harvested at the farm.

Mike Zelkind, 80 Acres CEO, said in a statement that the Northern Kentucky plant would allow the company to “grow closer” to its retail customers in Lexington and Louisville.

“We’re always looking for ways to increase our impact, and this farm is the biggest step forward for us yet, more than doubling our total production and growing our footprint outside Ohio,” he said.

KEDFA approved 80 Acres for up to $2 million in incentives based on the company hitting its investment and jobs totals. The average wage for the jobs would be $45 an hour.

Kroger announced the grocery company’s fulfillment network division would open a new e-commerce facility in Louisville, which would create 161 new jobs.

A 50,000-square-foot facility in the city has been leased, and that will serve as the hub for a delivery service expected to launch later this year. KEDFA authorized incentives of up to $2 million based on Kroger’s $4.1 million investment and the new jobs, which would have an average wage of $30 an hour.

Elsewhere in Louisville, Piston Automotive announced last week an expansion of a previously planned project. The company now plans to spend $26.3 million to lease a facility that would support a new electric and hybrid vehicle battery system production line. The expansion would more than double its local workforce by adding 117 jobs with an average wage of more than $22 an hour.

KEDFA approved Piston Automotive for up to $1.7 million in incentives based on the investment and job goals.

Beshear also announced that Eurofins Genomics would invest $35.7 million to expand in Louisville and build a 65,000-square-foot facility to develop reagents used for virus detection, including COVID-19.

KEDFA approved the company for up to $300,000 in incentives.

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