Kentucky Welcomes All

The Bluegrass State is building a vast talent pipeline for the industries relocating and expanding to the state. 

By Roneshia Thomas
From the March/April 2023 Issue

Known for its infrastructure and logistics, Kentucky is centrally located with access to two-thirds of the United States population within a day’s drive. The state is home to three global air cargo hubs, 2,700 miles of railroad, and 2,000 miles of navigable waterways.

Despite being home to some of the biggest logistics companies (most recently Amazon Air), Kentucky’s goal is to continue expanding commercial development across several sectors. The Bluegrass State has targeted growth in electric vehicles, energy and renewable sources, and technology development and R&D.

Kentucky currently holds the largest EV battery output potential in the United States, thanks to BlueOval SK Battery Park and Envision AESC. There have been over $10 billion in EV investments into the state since 2021. To support this expansion the state offers some of the lowest industrial power costs in the nation, 17% below the national average.


“World-class companies are picking Kentucky because of our world-class workforce.”

—Gov. Andy Beshear

To ensure these companies have the skilled workforce they need, Kentucky has invested millions in upskilling workers. There are over 18 private universities and colleges, 16 community and technical colleges, and eight public universities. In 2022, the state trained more than 95,000 people and supported more than 5,000 manufacturing companies.

“World-class companies are picking Kentucky because of our world-class workforce,” Gov. Andy Beshear said while announcing nearly $830,000 in funding and credits to assist with the training of over 2,100 Kentucky workers, through the state’s Bluegrass State Skills Corp. programs. “The state has provided assistance for well over 14,000 Kentuckians this fiscal year to get the workforce training they need. Our economy is on fire and we’re not slowing down.”

(Source: Adobe Stock)


Kentucky also developed the Kentucky Product Development Initiative (KPDI) last year. Gov. Beshear introduced KPDI, which makes $100 million in state funding available to support potential upgrades to sites and buildings statewide.

New and existing domestic Kentucky companies announced 248 private-sector new-location and expansion projects, 16,000 full-time jobs, and nearly $10.5 billion in investment in 2022. Internationally owned facilities announced a total investment of $3.91 billion and nearly 3,400 new jobs for Kentuckians.

Kentucky’s Speed-to-Market Is Fueling Unprecedented Economic Growth

In order to meet the ever-growing demand of its consumers, companies coast-to-coast are looking to expand their operations. This need for growth and quick turnaround times has brought the speed-to-market factor to the forefront when it comes to business expansion and relocation.

For decision makers at businesses considering a new location, states capable of getting companies from the project stage to operational quickly and efficiently are in a prime position compared to their competition.

The commonwealth has taken an aggressive approach to the speed-to-market demand, matching companies’ sense of urgency and expediting project timelines in a way many other states cannot. This advantage has opened the doors to continue strong statewide economic growth through increased investment and job creation.

Looking ahead, the state is paving the way for future speedy development through its Build-Ready Sites and Kentucky Product Development Initiative (KPDI).

Through KPDI, the state enables companies to quickly locate in Kentucky while mitigating the risks and delays normally associated with the construction process. This unique program was launched in partnership between the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and the Kentucky Association for Economic Development (KAED). It’s supported by $200 million in funding that was approved by Gov. Andy Beshear and the state legislature.

Rendering of the new build-ready certified site at Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority Commerce Park in Pulaski County, positioning the location to attract new business to the region. (Source: Kentucky Cabinet For Economic Development)


More than 70 applications for funding were received statewide after the initiative went live. Local government and economic development organizations may take advantage of these resources to secure and build up sites with infrastructure to make them development ready.

The KPDI Program is responsible for assisting with transformative site and infrastructure improvement projects, which include the development of build-ready sites.

With a build-ready site, much of the work—aside from construction—has already been completed. That includes control of the land to be developed, archaeological, environmental, and geotechnical studies performed, construction of a building pad, preliminary design work, approved site plan permits, and necessary infrastructure in place. On a build-ready site, construction can begin immediately.

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There are currently 20 build-ready sites throughout the commonwealth with six sites in Graves, Laurel, Warren, and Washington counties having been selected by companies for new location projects, highlighting the program’s effectiveness at getting companies online in a quick, cost-efficient manner.

Complementing Kentucky’s speed-to-market advantages are a host of other business-friendly elements, including an ideal geographic location that places the state within a day’s drive of more than two-thirds of the nation’s population and personal income and manufacturing operations. With highly developed logistics and distribution infrastructure and facilities—including four major ground and air-shipping hubs—Kentucky continues to attract businesses that rely on multiple reliable, air, road, waterway, and rail shipping options. These factors are a huge reason why the logistics and distribution industry, and others such as manufacturing, automotive, metals, and food, beverage, and agritech are thriving in the commonwealth.

Kentucky’s commitment to bringing companies to market quickly, creating high-wage opportunities, and improving infrastructure throughout the state are paying dividends, and the state sits in a good position to build a brighter future through these early successes.

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