Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson says that while it feels like "slogging through mud", the area economy is slowly starting to turn around.
However, Wilkerson told WKU Public Radio the city is still subject to manufacturing job losses that can have a big impact on its labor force.
"In a community our size, when something like Eagle Industries shuts down and puts 275 people out of work, we feel that hit. Fruit of the Loom has decided to reduce its workforce by close to 100 this year, and those are 100 good-paying jobs that are very meaningful to our economy. So when they're gone, we notice it," Wilkerson said.
Recent data compiled by the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet show the Bowling Green Metropolitan Statistical Area with a seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 7.5 percent for the month of July, which is two-tenths of a percentage point below the national jobless figure.
An automotive supplier is opening a plant in south central Kentucky that will create more than 100 jobs. Germany-based Dr. Schneider Automotive Systems will build a new manufacturing facility in Russell Springs, creating 155 full-time jobs and investing $29 million dollars in the commonwealth.
Dr. Schneider produces parts for companies such as Ford, GM, BMW, and Volkswagen.
Russell Springs was chosen over 69 other potential sites adding to Kentucky’s growing list of foreign investors.
“At the end of an intensive selection process, we decided to choose Russell Springs,” said Wilhelm Wirth, member of the Dr. Schneider board of directors. “The decisive factors included the quality and expandability of the facility and the competitive location costs.
The announcement marks the third German-owned company to locate in the commonwealth this year, all three of which serve the auto industry.
So far this year, Kentucky ranks third nationally for light vehicle production and first on a per capita basis.
General Motors says it is investing $350 million and will create and retain at least 1,800 jobs at its plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee.
While the automaker isn’t saying what new vehicles will be made at the plant, GM announced Tuesday that it will add two midsize vehicle programs to the facility, making good on a promise to the United Auto Workers union during negotiations in 2011.
The Tennessean reports that some analysts have suggested the vehicles might be the Cadillac SRX, which is currently made in Mexico, and the Buick Anthem, which GM has in development. The Spring Hill plant served as the headquarters and main assembly facility for GM’s now-defunct Saturn brand before production was halted in 2009.
The UAW says the jobs generated by the new auto production will be filled mainly by local hires, as opposed to the union’s normal practice of transferring displaced workers from other areas.
The news comes on the heels of a recent report showing Tennessee is, for a fourth consecutive year, ranked No. 1 in automotive manufacturing strength in the nation.
A new distribution and manufacturing facility in Franklin plans to add 40 new jobs over the next few years. MultiTech Industries creates springs, wire forms, machined components, and other parts for automotive manufacturers.
MultiTech will occupy a 32,000-square-foot spec building in the Sanders Interstate Industrial Park in Simpson County.
The company will initially employ ten workers, and says it wants to add up to 40 positions over time.
Tennessee is, for a fourth consecutive year, ranked No. 1 in automotive manufacturing strength in the nation.
Economic development publication Business Facilities has released its annual ranking, showing Tennessee the top state.
Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty called the ranking "an impressive distinction" and said expansions and relocations by automotive manufacturers like General Motors, Nissan, and Volkswagen, and Magneti Marelli further solidify the state's position globally.
With the auto plants and those of their suppliers, there are more than 900 automotive plants in the state. In fiscal 2012-2013, 44 automotive projects created 6,662 new jobs in Tennessee and investments totaled close to $1.1 billion.
Kentucky manufacturers will benefit from a new partnership between universities, professionals, and state and federal partners.
The Advantage Kentucky Alliance was announced Friday at WKU's Center for Research and Development.
The aim is to move Kentucky from traditional manufacturing to advanced manufacturing. WKU President Gary Ransdell said it's important for universities to be involved in the economies they help create and sustain.
"Universities first and foremost have to be about economic development. The time has long since passed when our primary mission was to just educate students,"said Dr. Ransdell. "As I've said for many years, educating students is a means to a much more important end and that more important end is driving Kentucky's economy and improving the quality of like for people within the reach of our universities."
The Kentucky Association of Manufacturers and local chambers of commerce will help connect manufacturers to alliance members who can address their needs, such as finding new revenue streams, developing new products and services, and learning new processes to become more efficient.
A southern Tennessee county is poised to gain up to 800 new jobs when a subsidiary of Fiat expands its auto supply plant. The nearly $54 million expansion of the Magneti Marelli plant in Giles County will provide a major boost to manufacturing jobs throughout the region.
The factory floor of Trace Die Cast in Bowling Green is loud—so loud, workers and visitors wear ear plugs anytime they’re on the premises. This is the sort of place that provides the blue collar manufacturing jobs that we keep hearing are in such short supply these days.
An auto-industry supplier is planning a $10 million expansion of a facility in Bowling Green, with plans calling for two new production lines and an add-on to the existing building. KIRIU USA President and CEO Mark Kimura says the expansion should be done by the time the company celebrates its 10th anniversary this fall.
Taggart Solar, LLC plans to locate a new manufacturing facility in the Edmonson County Industrial Park in Edmonson County in a 10,000 square foot leased building. The company's $440,000 capital investment will create 30 new jobs.