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Manufacturing Month Highlights Worldwide Demand for Kentucky Products
Kentucky Ag Connection - 10/05/2018

As one of the nation's most manufacturing-intense states, Kentucky throughout October will recognize Manufacturing Month, the 4,500 manufacturing facilities, their more than 256,000 full-time employees and the increasing global demand for the commonwealth's goods.

"From cars and chemicals to cookies and compressor parts, Kentucky's manufacturing sector is the foundation of the state's thriving economy and plays a powerful role around the world," Gov. Matt Bevin said. "With nearly 13 percent of our workforce engaged in manufacturing, the commonwealth has unparalleled expertise among states in making the products that support both modern society and the individual lives of people across the globe. It is exciting to see Kentucky regularly receiving recognition as the engineering and manufacturing center of excellence in America."

Global demand for Kentucky products this year increased by 4.3 percent through July -- the most recent figures available -- over the same months last year, as Kentucky exports jumped from $17.51 billion to $18.27 billion.

That increase follows a multi-year trend. In 2017, Kentucky exported $30.9 billion in goods to nearly 200 nations, 5.7 percent more than the $29.2 billion exported in 2016 and nearly 12 percent more than the $27.6 billion in 2015.

Aerospace parts, motor vehicles and pharmaceuticals and medicines topped the list of Kentucky products by dollar value exported. Among the top 10 product categories, the largest international demand spikes this year came in fabricated metal products (up nearly 69 percent), beverages (up nearly 33 percent), and basic chemicals (up 17.3 percent).

Lee Lingo, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, noted the sector's impact.

"The Kentucky Association of Manufacturers proudly celebrates manufacturing every October. We encourage manufacturers to open their doors to open minds and inspire the next generation of manufacturers who will grow our industry in ways and to heights we can only dream of today," Lingo said. "Kentucky is home to world famous beverages, sporting goods equipment, mirror balls, peanut butter, cell phone glass and arguably the three most recognized vehicles in the United States. Those goods and more account for almost $40 billion almost 20 percent of our state's GDP and approximately $30 billion in exports annually. Manufacturing provides high-wage, high-skill opportunities that are in high-demand across our great commonwealth."

Kentucky announced $13 billion in planned or current investments by manufacturers and the creation of 23,500 manufacturing jobs during the Bevin administration to date. Those figures -- across nearly 670 expansion or new-location projects -- include expansions at Kentucky's three largest manufacturers; Ford Motor Co. in Louisville, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky in Georgetown and GE Appliances, a Haier company, in Louisville.

As Kentucky becomes the engineering and manufacturing hub of excellence in America, the administration and Legislature have improved the state's business climate, instituted numerous workforce development initiatives -- ensuring manufacturers can build a pipeline of skilled employees for years to come -- as well as extensively reimagined the state's resources and programs for entrepreneurs and startups.

Kentucky's central location -- within a day's drive of two-thirds of the US population and income -- makes the state a natural fit for manufacturers looking quickly distribute their products to key US markets. Global air cargo hubs by UPS, DHL and Amazon provide fast, reliable and distribution overnight to virtually all points internationally.

In addition to location and geographic advantages, the state offers the lowest-cost industrial electric east of the Mississippi River, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Those factors make it desirable for primary metals manufacturers, including producers of steel, aluminum and stainless steel, recycling facilities and metals processors.

Location, the state's robust logistics and distribution industry, low rates for industrial power and plentiful access to water help draw food and beverage manufactures. That industry employs 52,000 people at 344 locations. The state's climate provides optimal cycles of hot summers, mild springs and autumns and cold winters, helping to age its world renowned bourbon.

Kentucky's automotive industry -- which includes more than 100,000 employees at 521 facilities -- relies on many of the same factors. Parts suppliers can source significant amounts of their necessary material -- processed metals, plastics, rubber, glass and specialty chemicals -- and reliably ship their products just-in-time to assembly points throughout the state, the Midwest, Canada, the South and Mexico -- all key auto production markets.

Each day throughout October the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development will feature a Kentucky-made product or manufacturer operating in the commonwealth. Follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

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