Bridgestone Americas is expanding its Williamsburg, KY air springs manufacturing plant. The $51 million investment in the Firestone Industrial Products’ (FSIP) plant will help meet market demand in the automotive vehicle market with a focus on the electric vehicle (EV) sector. The expansion of the facility is expected to break ground the second quarter of this year and wrap up by the end of 2022.
The expansion will focus on the addition of 68,000 square feet of manufacturing space to accommodate new equipment that will increase plant capacity. This investment also includes increasing the workforce at the Williamsburg plant by 250 employees.
FSIP is a leading global supplier of air suspensions for the EV industry. Firestone air suspensions not only help improve ride comfort and handling, but also can increase electric vehicle range and help protect batteries from road impact and overheating. This new chapter in EV automotive was born from a decades’ long history of designing and supplying parts to the majority of commercial vehicle manufacturers in North America. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has supplied product to keep these essential services providers moving.
“With the increase in vehicle electrification, Firestone air suspension systems are in high demand among the most innovative and forward-thinking original equipment manufacturers globally,” said Emily Poladian, president, Firestone Industrial Products. “Firestone air suspensions are optimally designed with electric vehicles in mind. Compared to traditional coil spring suspensions, our air suspensions are designed to help improve the handling and comfort of heavier electric vehicles and can even help improve EV range by lowering the vehicle to help improve aerodynamics. Advanced air suspensions are increasingly a ‘must-have’ technology on premium electric vehicles, and Firestone is committed to maintaining its leadership in this exciting and important market.”
Parts for the commercial transportation vehicle market (truck, trailer and bus) and automotive vehicle markets are produced at the Williamsburg Plant which is the only full U.S. manufacturer of this product category. The company’s other U.S. plant is located in Dyersburg, TN where air springs are assembled. FSIP designs, tests, and manufactures air suspensions at its location in Williamsburg, KY as well as in Brazil, China, Costa Rica and its newly expanded facility in Poland. FSIP’s North America Advanced Technical Design Center in Fishers, IN enables the company to remain agile and focus on speed to market which is a key requirement of start-up EV companies.
“As we continue to work toward a brighter future for all Kentuckians, I want to thank Firestone Industrial Products for its commitment to Whitley County, the Eastern Kentucky region and the commonwealth as a whole,” said Governor Andy Beshear. “This company has been an important corporate partner in our state for decades, and this investment by Firestone in support of the emerging electric vehicle market ensures that will continue to be the case for years to come. Thank you to the company’s leadership for furthering their commitment to Kentucky.”
FSIP purchased the building and land located in Williamsburg in 1988. The Williamsburg Plant is currently 375,000 square feet. It is one of the largest employers in the area with more than 500 employees.
Kruger Packaging To Create 150 Jobs In Elizabethtown
In Hardin County, Canada-based Kruger Packaging will invest $114.2 million to establish a state-of-the-art packaging manufacturing operation. The Montréal, Canada-based company’s project will create at least 150 jobs in coming years.
“This is a significant project for Elizabethtown and the commonwealth, and furthers the mission of the Kentucky agritech initiative to build a better future with higher paying jobs for Kentuckians,” said Gov. Beshear. “Kruger Packaging is creating nearly 150 quality job opportunities for our residents, and I want to thank the company for this commitment to our state. Kruger Packaging will be a strong employer in Central Kentucky for years to come, and I look forward to watching the company grow and help build a better future for Kentuckians.”
The new 400,000-square-foot facility to be located at T.J. Patterson Industrial Park in Elizabethtown will operate under the name Kruger Packaging (USA) LLC and represents the company’s first corrugated box plant in the U.S.
“Kentucky’s pro-business climate was instrumental in our decision to invest in Hardin County, and we are grateful for the support we received from Gov. Beshear, Team Kentucky and Elizabethtown-Hardin County to make today’s announcement a reality,” said Michael Lafave, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Kruger Packaging.
Kruger Packaging will join 38 Canadian-owned facilities already operating in Kentucky. Since the start of 2020, Canada-based companies have announced projects that would create over 430 full-time jobs in Kentucky with over $250 million in new investment.
Kruger Packaging also adds to Kentucky’s growing agritech sector. The Kentucky agritech initiative includes a number of midstream technologies, including innovations in processing, packaging and distribution. The company’s commitment to its people and sustainability aligns with the goals of the Kentucky agritech initiative, particularly as state leaders continue to develop and support packaging and distribution services for a range of sectors, including the food and beverage industry.
“We are grateful to Kruger Packaging for investing in our community after several months of site considerations in multiple states,” said Elizabethtown Mayor Jeff Gregory. “We look forward to welcoming Kruger to our business community and supporting their continued success as they bring new job opportunities to our residents.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $3.45 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $114.2 million and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 147 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 10 years; and
- Paying an average hourly wage of $32.50 including benefits across those jobs.
Additionally, KEDFA approved Kruger Packaging for up to $1.58 million in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing. In addition, the company can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network.
Relocating or Expanding Your Business In Kentucky
Considering Kentucky for your company’s relocation or expansion project? Check out Business Facilities’ Kentucky Incentives and Workforce Development Guide.