manufacturing

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Kentucky is out of the running in the fierce competition for Amazon’s second U.S. headquarters.

Louisville hoped to gain the attention of the Seattle-based company, and the 50,000 jobs that would come with the project. But Louisville is not one of 20 cities on Amazon’s short list released this week.

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Braidy Industries released the names of its shareholders over the weekend. The aluminum company is planning a state-subsidized $1.3 billion facility in Greenup County.

 

The move came after the Courier Journal requested a list of investors and shareholders. That request was partially denied. The list the paper received showed only two previously known owners, with the rest of the names blacked out.

Becca Schimmel

A financial technology company says Kentucky is home to three of the top 25 best places in the

U.S. to work in manufacturing. The list created by the company “Smart Asset” ranks the Elizabethtown-Fort Knox area as the fifth-best place in the country for manufacturing jobs.

Owensboro was ranked 17th, and the Louisville metro area was 19th. The report says a little more than 17 percent of jobs in the Elizabethtown-Fort Knox region fall into the manufacturing category. That area has seen a 7 percent increase in manufacturing job growth over a one-year period.

Toyota

Toyota said Monday it is investing $1.3 billion to retool its sprawling factory in Georgetown, Kentucky, where the company's flagship Camry sedans are built.

No new factory jobs are being added, but Toyota says the upgrades amount to the biggest single investment ever at one of its existing plants in the United States. The retooling also will sustain the existing 8,200 jobs at Toyota's largest plant, where nearly one-fourth of all Toyota vehicles produced in North America are made, the automaker said.

"This major overhaul will enable the plant to stay flexible and competitive, further cementing our presence in Kentucky," said Wil James, president of the plant, which also assembles the Avalon and the Lexus ES 350.

GM

The Bowling Green General Motors plant is temporarily shutting down later this year to make changes to its vehicle production process.

The facility will temporarily lay off employees while the changes are being made.

A spokeswoman for the plant said a decision on the exact dates and length of the shutdown hasn’t been made, but that it would likely cover parts of the summer and fall.

The plant employees about 840 hourly workers, along with 165 salaried individuals. The spokeswoman said some employees will be asked to work through the temporary shutdown, with the plant making those decisions based on the facility’s needs.

Jacob Ryan

Kentucky’s labor secretary is trying to get more employers to offer apprenticeship programs that provide employment and on-the-job training for new workers entering an industry.

There are currently about 1,100 employers that have registered apprenticeship programs in Kentucky, employing about 3,000 people.

Derrick Ramsey, secretary of the Labor Cabinet, said apprenticeship programs will help train Kentucky’s workforce and attract new businesses.

“’If we do not have skilled workers, I don’t think businesses are going to move here,” Ramsey said. “And by the way, in most cases with businesses, they don’t want to come here and then train that worker, they want to have them trained before they come here.”

Apprenticeship programs combine on-the-job training with formal instruction and usually last four years. Employers work with the Labor Cabinet to design the training program and sign a contract with each apprentice — the contract is registered with the state and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Governor Bevin says the University of Louisville is a key component of a National Center to focus on automotive research in areas of automotive efficiency and sustainable transportation. That could cover everything from online transportation services to self-driving cars.

He made that announcement Monday before the second Auto Vision Conference in Lexington.

Bevin says the multi-state project could result in some new automotive technologies. “Some things that are being imagined now will come to fruition. Other things will come to fruition that nobody’s even thought of yet. Other ideas that we’ve thought of frankly are gonna hit dead ends,” said Bevin.

Bevin says U of L is joining five other universities across the country in launching this program funded by the National Science Foundation. The program is called the Industrial University Cooperative Research Center for Efficient Vehicles and Sustainable Transportation Systems.

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Mark Muro is having a conversation with someone in a bar. The person’s in their late twenties and is having trouble finding work. Maybe they have a high school diploma. Mark’s advice? Enroll in the closest community college you can.

Fast.

Auto manufacturing and digital services are some of the industries contributing to Kentucky’s economic growth. And you don’t need a Master’s or PhD to get a job in these areas.

“STEM workers are crucial to regional prosperity and advanced industry success but they don’t all need to have to have college degrees,” says Muro, senior fellow and policy director at the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

Muro did a study tracking the growth of advanced industries. Blue-collar STEM jobs fall under these industries, which employ more than 170,000 people in Kentucky. The average salary in an advanced industry is just over $65,000 in the commonwealth. That compares with almost $42,000 for all other industries.

Kentucky Lawmakers Form Bipartisan Automotive Caucus

Feb 3, 2016
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Kentucky lawmakers are banding together to promote the state's automotive industry.

Dozens of lawmakers from both political parties on Tuesday started an Automotive Caucus to work with an industry that officials say employs more than 136,500 people in Kentucky.

The Bluegrass State ranks third nationally in car production and second in light truck production.

Caucus members have pledged to work with the automotive industry in coming years on such key issues as workforce training, tax policies and technology development. Auto manufacturers say they're especially interested in developing the next generation of manufacturing workers for their plants.

A Japanese corporation is planning a $15 million expansion at its manufacturing site in Bowling Green.

NHK of America Suspension Components Incorporated (NASCO) is adding a new building next to its existing facility in Warren County. The new location will manufacture automotive suspension coil springs, and is expected to be completed within two years.

NASCO employs 280 people, and its  Japanese parent company owns another operation in Warren County (Topura America Fastener), Franklin (New Mather Materials), and Louisville (NHK Spring Precision of America). In all, NHK International Corporation employs about 1,000 Kentucky workers.

A Bowling Green manufacturer is expanding, adding 30 new jobs.

KapStone Containter Corporation is investing $4.5 million in the project, which will modernize the facility and upgrade equipment. KapStone manufactures paper packaging containers, and employs 112 full-time workers at its Bowling Green facility.

Governor Steve Beshear announced the expansion plans Thursday in Warren County.

Beshear Thursday also announced a $400,000 expansion at a metal stamping manufacturer in Stanford. The Lincoln Manufacturing plant is adding 20 jobs and adding a third shift to its operations in Lincoln County.

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A program designed to benefit Kentucky's manufacturing sector is expanding statewide.  Governor Beshear made the announcement Wednesday at the Georgetown Toyota plant, where the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education initiative is already underway. 

Kentucky Community and Technical College System President Jay Box says under the program, sponsoring manufacturers pay for two years of student instruction. "It requires a dedicated student because they are very structured in their education and in their work during this program," said Box. "But, it also gets them through in two years and that's quite an advantage."      

Program participants attend classes two days a week at area community and technical colleges, and work 24 hours per week for supporting employers.  Upon completion of the program, students receive an associate degree in applied sciences and, in many cases, stay on to work full-time.       

Greg Higdon with the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers says expanding the initiative may result in more firms locating in the Commonwealth.

Aleris

An aluminum manufacturer says it will invest $350 million to expand its facilities in Hancock County.

According to the Governor’s Office, the announcement Wednesday by Aleris Corporation is the largestsingle project investment in Kentucky in over a year. The expansion in Lewisport will include the additionof new technology that will help create parts for the automotive industry as it shifts to broader aluminum use to make lighter vehicles.

The 1.6 million-square-foot facility in Hancock County employs approximately 800 people.

Construction is set to begin this fall, and Aleris hopes to begin shipping automotive body sheet to customers by early 2017.

An automotive parts manufacturer is expanding its operations in Henderson County.

Budge Industries creates protective covers for vehicles, and announced Friday that it will expand its 75,000 square-foot facilities and create up to 37 new jobs. The $650,000 investment by the company will allow it to add new production lines at its Henderson County operation, as well as new ultrasonic welding equipment.

The expansion was approved for $200,000 worth of tax incentives through the Kentucky Business Investment program.

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A newly formed automotive organization in Kentucky wants to help the industry speak with a unified voice.

Dave Tatman is now head of the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association, following 34 years with General Motors. The former plant manager of the Bowling Green G.M. plant believes too many people are unaware of the importance the industry has on the state’s economy.

"So we've got to create that kind of brand identity for Kentucky as the place to do business for automotive businesses, not only for the ones that are here, but the ones that are considering coming here,” Tatman said. “I think North America is searching for the next automotive cluster outside of Detroit and I think we could be that."

Given the already sizeable presence in the state held by G.M., Ford, and Toyota, Tatman doubts the commonwealth will land another major automaker.

"But, I think our best opportunities exist in really, two fold, in growth of existing businesses because the automotive market continues to expand and do well throughout the globe, so growth of our existing businesses and then attracting new supplier businesses to the Commonwealth."

Kentucky ranks third nationally in light vehicle production, with the state’s automotive exports reaching a record $5.5 billion last year.

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