Category Archives: Expansion

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.

Economic Development – From Ideas to Action

No good idea succeeds simply because it is a good idea. Good ideas must have champions. – Colin Powell

As an economic development agency, Commerce Lexington is charged with creating an environment for the private sector to start new businesses, grow existing businesses, and invest in technology and workforce. We take a collaborative approach to strengthening the community and local economy, generally working behind the scenes to create opportunities, bridge divides, and eliminate barriers to investment and expansion. However, we occasionally have the opportunity to champion projects and lead the way.

A great example is the Blue Grass Business Park. Starting in 1997, Commerce Lexington has worked to develop the 100 acre park, taking bold steps to finance the land and fund infrastructure improvements of water, gas, sewer, and roads. Today, the Blue Grass Business Park is full, and is home to many advanced manufacturing companies employing 1,540 residents with an average annual wage of over $40,000. Per acre, the park generates more than $660,000 in payroll. Click here to learn more about the regional impact of the park.

Blue Grass Business Park

A proactive action-oriented mindset and a clear strategy are musts for effective economic development, and we’re fortunate to have a diverse network of partners and supporters that help move our ideas to action.

– CLX Economic Development Team

Commerce Lexington Update

  • Last week, LM Communications Broadcast Media Group was named 2014 Commerce Lexington Inc. Small Business of the Year during the Salute to Small Business Awards Luncheon presented by Forcht Bank.
  • The Lexington metro was named among the Top 25 Most Educated Cities in America by
  • Commerce Lexington is hosting a journalist familiarization tour to showcase Lexington’s high-tech entrepreneurial community. They will conclude their day at this week’s Geeks Night Out at the Livery. Join the party for some great networking – register for free.

Big Ass Fans to Expand in Lexington, Add 150 Jobs

[May 29, 2012] – Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear joined company and local officials to announce that Lexington-based Big Ass Fans will build a 72,000 square-foot facility in Lexington, adding 150 jobs and an $8 million investment.

“I’m delighted to see this expansion and witness the tremendous success of Big Ass Fans, a Kentucky-based company,” Gov. Beshear said. “These new jobs will have a positive impact for the community, creating quality jobs in the Lexington area. I’m glad the Commonwealth could play a role in making this growth possible.”

The expansion includes 56,000 square feet for office space and 16,000 square feet for storage/warehouse space on Jaggie Fox Way in Lexington, where the company has an existing 45,000-square-foot research and testing facility. Big Ass Fans also plans to maintain its Lexington campus location off Winchester Road.

Founded in 1999, the HVLS (High Volume Low Speed) Fan Company changed its name to Big Ass Fans in 2002 and has become a leading manufacturer of ceiling fans for industrial, agricultural, commercial and residential customers. The fans range in size from 5 feet to 24 feet in diameter and use low horsepower motors to generate energy-efficient air movement for large spaces. There are more than 65,000 Big Ass Fans installed worldwide in locations such as manufacturing facilities, distribution centers, horse arenas, dairy barns, stadiums, restaurants, health clubs and homes.

“While our name may be funny, we take our business seriously,” says President of Big Ass Fans, Carey Smith. “Our company’s success can be credited, in large part, to the quality employees we have attracted and maintained in central Kentucky. Combining this pool of talent with products that really work has led to enormous success, which we’re proud to now reinvest back into the community.”

To encourage the investment and job growth in Lexington, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $2 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the term of the agreement through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.

KEDFA also approved Big Ass Fans for tax benefits up to $210,000 through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act, which allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development, and electronic processing equipment.

“This announcement is good news for Lexington,” said Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. “We’re proud to be home to Big Ass Fans. They bring good jobs to our city, and we have citizens who need those jobs.”

“This is an exciting announcement for central Kentucky,” said Sen. Kathy Stein, of Lexington. “This investment by Big Ass Fans is an investment in our community. The 150 new jobs resulting from this expansion will provide a boost to our local economy and new opportunities for our workforce. Big Ass Fans continues to enhances our position as the prime location for innovative businesses to plant themselves, grow roots and be cultivated into the fertile soil we are developing to be the regional leader in excellence in our new economy. Gov. Beshear shows his continued leadership in job creation to seek out and support this excellent industry. This is the kind of leadership we need and have come to expect from Gov. Beshear. Thank you, Governor.”

“This is great news for our community and one of its signature businesses,” said Rep. Susan Westrom, of Lexington. “I want to thank the company for making this investment, especially for the jobs it will generate, and I’m glad that the state could play a role in helping to make all of this possible. Big Ass Fans has really put Lexington on the map, because of its name and certainly because of its quality work.”

“Commerce Lexington Inc. has always enjoyed working with Big Ass Fans, and we’re thrilled that they are expanding in Lexington,” said Bob Quick, CCE, president and CEO, Commerce Lexington Inc. “Big Ass Fans is a great example of a homegrown company that has an international reach. We’re proud they call Lexington home.”

For more information on Big Ass Fans, visit