Politics · June 7, 2021

Kentucky Governor: New Jobs in Metals Industry

Gov. Beshear: Over 1,500 New Jobs Planned Across Kentucky’s Metals Industry Point to Strengthening Economy

FRANKFORT, KY (STL.News) From steel tube manufacturing to copper recycling, Gov. Andy Beshear said companies in Kentucky’s metals industry are helping to build a stronger post-COVID economy by creating over 1,500 jobs through $870 million in investments across 11 projects announced during the first half of 2021.

For example, Wieland North America Inc., a producer of copper and copper alloy products, plans to create 75 jobs with a $100 million copper and copper-alloy recycling facility in Shelby County.  That facility, the company said, could also see future growth.

Wieland’s recycling facility announcement comes less than four months after the company made public its plans to locate its new North American headquarters in Louisville with an $8.8 million investment, a project creating 75 full-time jobs.

“As we continue to build back Kentucky’s economy stronger, we facilitated growth in a number of key areas, and that is particularly true for metals producers and downstream processors,” Gov. Beshear said.  “The metals industry impacts numerous other sectors in the state and throughout the U.S., and Kentucky’s increased metals presence will help encourage similar growth of other industry sectors across the commonwealth.  As we continue to build toward the future, metals producers and fabricators will play an ever-increasing role in our state’s success.  The recent growth of our state’s metals industry is a great reason for optimism, and our vision for Kentucky’s future is just getting started.”

Wieland plans to build its recycling operation on 79 acres off Isaac Shelby Drive in Shelby County.  The plant will melt copper and copper-alloy for use in manufacturing semi-finished copper and copper-alloy products for customers throughout North America.  Work on the project is expected to begin in October and be complete by the end of 2022.  The new facility also will position Wieland for future investment and job creation at the site.

While the copper-related company makes a key addition to Kentucky’s metals industry, aluminum, steel, cast iron and stainless steel businesses make up a vast majority of the sector, responsible for about 25,000 full-time jobs in Kentucky across 230 facilities.

The commonwealth’s metals industry gained a new member in March, when leaders of Matalco (U.S.) Inc., a producer of aluminum products for the extrusion and forging manufacturing industries, announced plans to locate the company’s first Kentucky facility in Simpson County with a $53.5 million investment that will create 60 full-time jobs in the coming years.

Matalco Kentucky LLC will occupy space in the recently acquired 461,000-square-foot facility on 107 acres on 300 Brown Road in Franklin. The brownfield remelt rolling ingot facility will produce alloyed ingots from recycled aluminum for customers throughout the Midwest.  The facility is expected to be operational by mid-2022, with annual capacity to produce 270 million pounds of aluminum ingots.

Also in March, the Governor and leaders of steel products manufacturer Nucor Corp. announced plans to build a $164 million tube mill and create 72 full-time jobs in Gallatin County.  Positions at the tube mill are expected to have an average hourly wage of $45.50 including benefits.

Once operational, the 396,000-square-foot tube mill will provide capacity to produce 250,000 tons of steel tubing annually, including hollow structural section tubing, mechanical steel tubing and galvanized solar torque tubing.  These products will serve the construction, infrastructure and renewable energy industries.

The location near Ghent will position the new tube mill near expanding solar markets in the U.S. and the largest consuming regions for hollow structural sections tubing.  Company leaders expect construction to begin this summer, with completion slated for mid-2023.

In January, Ball Corp. moved forward with plans to build a 500,000-square-foot facility in Bowling Green’s Kentucky Transpark to produce recyclable aluminum beverage can ends.  The company plans to create 200 jobs at an average hourly wage of $45 including benefits.

The operation will be Ball’s first in the state and will provide capacity to supply aluminum ends to the company’s expanding North American network of beverage can manufacturing plants.

And in April, Kentuckiana Curb Co. Inc. announced plans to create 700 full-time jobs in Shelby County with a new 380,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on 80 acres along Buck Creek Road in Simpsonville for the production of metal components for use in commercial heating and air conditioning equipment.

The company’s $60 million investment will support its design and manufacture of HVAC products for agritech-related businesses, health care facilities, school districts, retail, restaurants and lodging facilities.  Work on the project is expected to begin next January and be completed within a year.  KCC currently employs more than 510 people across two facilities in Jefferson County.

Providing materials and fabrication services for hundreds of products around the globe, these metals-related companies thrive in Kentucky thanks in part to the state offering an ideal central geographic location, providing significant distribution advantages and premier access to markets.

Whether they are newcomers or longtime operators, Kentucky’s manufacturers benefit significantly from the state’s second-to-none geographic location within a day’s drive of more than two-thirds of the nation’s population, personal income and manufacturing operations. Complementing this ideal central location is a robust transportation network that includes 20 interstates and major highways, major rail networks, barge traffic on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, five commercial airports and dozens of regional airports.  This diverse network enables businesses to move products easily and efficiently by air, rail, road and water to all points of the globe.

Additionally, businesses benefit from Kentucky’s nationally low business costs.  Particularly important for metals-related producers is the Bluegrass State’s status of offering among the lowest industrial electricity rates in the country.

Kentucky’s metals industry momentum is one thread in the state’s recent wave of economic gains this year.

Last month, Moody’s Analytics published a positive economic outlook for Kentucky, noting mass vaccination as the driving force behind a sustained recovery in consumer services.  The state’s recovery, Moody’s said, benefited from earlier reopening efforts and increased demand for manufactured goods over services.  The report also found Kentucky’s manufacturing industry outperformed the nation’s since the national downturn last year.

In early May, Fitch Ratings improved the state’s financial outlook to stable, reflecting the commonwealth’s solid economic recovery. Additionally, the state’s April sales tax receipts set an all-time monthly record at $486.5 million, as did vehicle usage tax receipts at over $64 million.

In March, Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for 2020 positioned Kentucky atop the South Central region, and third nationally, for qualifying projects per capita.  The commonwealth also placed seventh overall in total projects, the highest of any state with a population under 5 million.

When combined with the recent uptick in announced investment and job creation, these signs bode well for Kentucky’s post-COVID economy and point to continued growth as the year progresses.