State approves incentives for bourbon, EV battery sectors

Published 12:53 pm Monday, September 5, 2022

STEVE BITTENBENDER

The Center Square

Bourbon and electric-vehicle batteries, two of the fastest growing business sectors in Kentucky’s economy, are set to grow even more after state officials approved incentives for companies in those industries late last week.

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Among the companies approved for incentives at last week’s Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority meeting was Advanced Nano Products. The company plans to build a $49.6 million plant that will create carbon battery nanomaterials used by EV battery makers. That includes the BlueStarOval SK Battery Park, a $5.8 billion joint venture between Ford Motor Company and South Korea’s SK Innovation slated to be built near Glendale.

Over the past two years, EV-related vehicle businesses have announced more than $8.5 billion in projects in Kentucky that they say will create more than 8,000 full-time jobs.

ANP, another South Korean company, expects to break ground in February and open the E’town plant next year. Company officials told KEDFA they expect to create 93 jobs with an average hourly wage of $40 plus benefits.

“Economic development related to investments in electric-vehicle technology has become abundant in our commonwealth, and so much of that development is happening here in Hardin County,” said Andy Games, vice president of the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation. “When BlueOvalSK was announced last year, it was abundantly clear that ancillary development would soon follow.”

The authority gave preliminary approval to ANP for up to $2.6 million in tax incentives over 10 years. The incentives are tied to the company hitting its investment and job goals, and the jobs must be for Kentucky residents.

On the bourbon side, Blue Run Spirits, which seeks to build a $51 million plant in Georgetown, received initial approval for $700,000 in incentives over 10 years. The spirits maker plans to hire 45 employees who would earn an average of $31.92 per hour, including benefits.

More than 60 companies in the bourbon and spirits industry currently have distilleries or other operations in Kentucky and employ more than 5,300 people. Since Gov. Andy Beshear took office nearly three years ago, 50 expansions or new operations have been announced. Those companies plan to invest more than $1 billion in the state and say they will create nearly 1,000 jobs.

In recent years, distilleries have become leading tourism destinations in the state, and Beshear said on Monday that Blue Run will add to that.

“Our state’s bourbon industry continues to build momentum and reach new heights,” he said. “This investment by Blue Run Spirits is a welcome addition to the Georgetown and Scott County community and the Kentucky bourbon and tourism scene.”

Other companies approved for incentives include:

Bluegrass Bottling seeks to build a bottling facility in Lawrenceburg. The $6.3 million project is expected to create 27 jobs paying $23 an hour. The authority approved the company for up to $405,000 in incentives over 15 years.

Mackenzie and Paige Logistics plans to invest $4 million in a new headquarters in Florence that will create 210 full-time jobs in the Cincinnati suburb. KEDFA preliminarily approved up to nearly $1.7 million in incentives over 10 years based on the company hitting its investment goal and hiring at least 120 Kentucky residents for the jobs.

Atlas Machine and Supply plans to replace an existing Breckinridge County location with a $3.5 million facility that will serve as a hub for its on-site industrial repair division. The Kentucky-based company intends to create 78 new jobs with an average wage of $39 an hour plus benefits and relocate more than 20 workers from the existing site in the same county. Atlas received approval for up to $1.25 million in incentives tied to investment and job totals over 15 years.

Worldwide Technologies received approval for a $1.2 million project to produce precision machined products for the automotive, medical and defense industries. The company qualified for up to $150,000 in tax incentives over 10 years based on hitting the investment goal and creating 16 new jobs that pay an average of $27 an hour with benefits.