Manufacturers and site selectors look for low cost of doing business, favorable laws and regulations, a solid base of existing manufacturers, talented workforce, proprietary knowledge, prime location and logistics – in some cases shipping overseas overnight – and other factors when determining where to produce their goods. Northern Kentucky checks all the boxes, and then some.
Many powerhouse American and international manufacturers have chosen to locate in Northern Kentucky, and many more have logistics and distribution centers including Perfetti Van Melle, Mazak Corp., Safran Landing Systems, L’Oreal USA, Tyson/Hillshire Foods, The Schwan Food Co., Evenflo Feeding, Architectural Aluminum Products, Road ID, Amazon, Bosch, Citi, DHL, Mubea, Cabot Corp., Indy Honeycomb and WILD Flavors.
In 2017 and 2018 alone, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development reported another $500 million in new manufacturing investments.
And the firms already in Northern Kentucky have long-term staying power, such as Blue Grass Metals Inc. In March 2018, the 25-year-old wire forms supplier to the automotive industry expanded its Boone County operation with an investment of more than $4 million and 15 new jobs.
And L’Oréal in April 2017 announced it would build the largest commercial solar array in Kentucky at its Florence-based manufacturing plant.
Mubea is the area’s largest manufacturer, employing more than 1,300, producing heavy-duty products for lightweight construction. CEO of Mubea North America Doug Cain says the company’s success is a “direct result of the hard work of our committed Northern Kentucky and tri-state employees combined with the strong and enthusiastic efforts of the entire business support network.”
Safran Landing Systems contributes heavily to the state’s large and growing aerospace prowess. According to the Cabinet for Economic Development, Kentucky’s aerospace exports increased 183 percent the past five years, and the state has seen a 63 percent employee increase in the private aerospace products and parts manufacturing industry since 2002.
Overall the state has a manufacturing workforce of 250,000, including more than 18,500 industry-specific workers.
Northern Kentucky’s automotive sector makes a massive contribution to making the state the nation’s number three vehicle builder – Kentucky is the top producer of cars, light trucks and SUVs per capita. Statewide, the sector employs nearly 95,000 people at more than 500 companies. In 2017, auto-related exports totaled $5.5 billion.
The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce understands what these numbers mean for the region and the state. Its Northern Kentucky International Trade Association hosted a seminar on Japan’s influence on the Kentucky auto industry. NKITA helps members achieve international trade goals through connections with global business resources and high-impact technical programming in the region.
Meanwhile, care is taken also with industrial waste processes in Northern Kentucky. River Metals Recycle in summer 2018 celebrated its Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) certification for excellence in workplace safety. River Metals provides scrap-generating businesses a cost-effective way to market their recyclable resources.
Another priority is keeping the crucial manufacturing workforce pipeline flowing, a big job that’s done in large part thanks to the training efforts of the decade-old Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (KY FAME). KY FAME has a Northern Kentucky chapter that includes Boone, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton, Owen and Pendleton counties. KY FAME is a partnership of regional manufacturers whose purpose is to implement career pathway, apprenticeship-style educational programs that will create a pipeline of highly skilled workers. Member companies include Bosch, Mubea, Linamar, Safran, HAHN Automation, L’Oréal, Zotefoams, Steinkamp Molding, Nucor, Skilcraft, Diversified Composites, Kraus Maffei, Steinert US and Perfetti Van Melle.
Automatic screw machine products, produce specialty fasteners and inserts for the automotive industry
Copper, aluminum and fiber optic wire and cable for energy, industrial, specialty and communications markets
Clutches and brakes, combination air set clutch/spring set brakes and mechanical friction torque limiters
CNC turning centers, vertical machining centers, horizontal machining centers, Multi-Tasking machines, 5-axis machines
Awards, crystal awards, acrylic awards, trophies, plaques, corporate awards, gifts, promotional items
Source: Northern Kentucky Tri-ED and Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. This list may not be exhaustive.
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