October is Manufacturing Month in Kentucky

The Commonwealth is home to more than 4,000 manufacturers, representing $27 billion in GDP and 220,000 jobs. To pay tribute to one of Kentucky’s largest industries, Governor Steve Beshear proclaimed October as Manufacturing Month.

Since 2013, 248 of Kentucky’s existing manufacturers have announced over $3.2 billion in new investments and plans to create more than 7,600 jobs. In the same time period, 57 manufacturers announced relocations or openings in the Commonwealth. These projects are expected to create more than 4,300 jobs and $1.4 billion in new investment. In total, Commerce Lexington’s eight-county region in central Kentucky has been the recipient of more than one-fifth of the state’s private investment in manufacturing since 2013.

Jif factory in Lexington, KY
J.M. Smucker Co. spent over $43 million on upgrades to their Jif plant on Winchester Road in Lexington in 2013. Photo Source: Lexington Herald Leader


In the past five years alone, Kentucky’s manufacturing GDP has grown by more than a third and it makes up a significant portion of Kentucky’s growing export. Last year, the commonwealth exported a state record $25.3 billion to approximately 200 countries. Exports this year are up nearly 10 percent, far exceeding the national average of 3 percent. Kentucky’s top exports are aerospace products, motor vehicles and parts, and resin, rubber and fiber materials.

Here’s a rundown of some of the more interesting facts about manufacturing in Central Kentucky.

  • Ale-8-One: The soft drink has been bottled in Winchester since 1926 and is the only soft drink invented in Kentucky still in existence.
  • Alltech: Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. is one of the few joint brewing and distilling operations – or “brewstilleries” – in the world.
  • Big Ass Solutions: Owns the world’s only research and development lab built specifically for testing large-diameter fans.
  • Clark Material Handling Co.: Headquartered in Lexington, Clark is credited with having invented the modern forklift. Today, there are over 350,000 units operating worldwide.
  • Jif: The Jif (J.M. Smucker Co.) plant in Lexington is the largest peanut butter producing facility in the world, requiring 188 billion peanuts annually.
  • Kaba Mas: Headquartered in Lexington, Kaba Mas is the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of high-security electronic locking solutions.
  • Tiffany & Co.: the Lexington manufacturing plant (Tiffany’s first facility outside of the northeast) produces the classic six-prong engagement ring and other pieces of fine jewelry.
  • Toyota: Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky in Georgetown is able to produce a new Camry from its production line every 65 seconds.
  • Webasto: German-owned Webasto Roof Systems, Inc. started production at in Lexington in 2003, which is now their largest production site for sun and panorama roofs in the United States.

– CLX Economic Development Team

Commerce Lexington Update

  • The October 5Across pitch competition is October 29th at Awesome Inc. in downtown Lexington. 5Across is an informal gathering of entrepreneurs, investors and service providers from Lexington, KY. Each 5Across meeting features presentations from local entrepreneurs who pitch their idea to a panel of judges. To register, click here.
  • Students and recent grads are invited to the Fall 2014 undrcvr Lex  event to learn about the dozens of tech and creative companies in Lexington. From software to hardware, products to services, startups to established companies, come meet the backbone of Lexington’s entrepreneurial tech and design community. Discover opportunities from part and full-time positions to internships and co-ops.

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