Op-Ed: Ford, SK Innovation and Ky. Leading the Automotive Industry of the Future

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The following editorial is written by Governor Andy Beshear

In my inaugural address, held on the Capitol Steps in Frankfurt less than two years ago, I said advanced manufacturing was an area where Kentucky was “poised to be a national leader – so we have the vision and the will to be bold ”.

As a result of this boldness, last week Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, CEO Jim Farley, North America COO Lisa Drake and Dong-Seob Jee, President of Battery Business from SK Innovation, joined me on these same Capitol stages to announce that we will be building the largest electric battery plant in the country just off of I-65 in Hardin County.

Together, with the courage, vision and support of our partners, we will lead the automotive industry of the future and become an undisputed national leader in advanced manufacturing.

This project not only sets the bar globally for battery production, it breaks nearly all of our previous records for economic development.

It is the largest capital investment ever in the Commonwealth, at nearly $ 6 billion.

This is the largest single job ad in Kentucky history, with roughly 5,000 full-time jobs – and they’re high paying jobs. Better yet: this figure does not include the many construction jobs, suppliers and dealers that this investment is also expected to generate.

Together, these Glendale twin factories will produce 86 gigawatt hours per year, which I believe will make them the largest battery factories in the country and one of the leading producers of advanced batteries that will power the next generation of Ford and Lincoln vehicles.

These huge plants will capture the attention of the whole world. Every nation will know exactly where Kentucky is and who we are – because in this state we know power, and it’s about to be generated in a whole new way.

Currently, there is no electric vehicle battery supply chain in the United States – so we will be building it right here in the Commonwealth. We’re already hearing from potential EV suppliers showing interest in coming to Kentucky, creating even more jobs in our burgeoning Auto Alley.

There are so many people to thank for their support and hard work, including the Cabinet for Economic Development team and everyone in Hardin County – the mayor, county judge / executive, members of the Industrial Foundation and the Local Economic Development Team – thank you for your wonderful work.

I also appreciate the members of the General Assembly, who immediately adopted favorable legislation during the recent special session. This bipartisan effort has shown our ability to get things done, and we have proven that politics will never stop us from creating better jobs for our people.

What an amazing partnership and past we have had with the Ford Motor Company for over a century, from building the Model T and military jeeps to assembling some of the current lines of Ford cars and trucks.

We are fortunate to have the Louisville Assembly Plant and the Kentucky Truck Plant in our Commonwealth. Through direct employees, suppliers and dealers, Ford helps employ around 120,000 Kentuckians – and that doesn’t even include the 5,000 jobs announced last week. And a 2020 Economic Impact Report highlights Ford’s annual impact on our state of nearly $ 11.7 billion.

Ford also invests in our most important asset: our people. A year ago, as we and other states struggled to get enough PPE, Ford donated masks to our state stockpile. To date, they have donated at least 3.5 million masks to our health heroes and school children.

When I think of these children – our children – they are so much the reason I wanted to be your governor.

My family and I will live and work in this state for decades after I leave office. I want to do all I can to make it a better Commonwealth for every Kentuckian, with opportunities for all of our people.

With this announcement, we are breaking all economic development records on the books for annual investment totals. This year alone, we announced 11,700 private sector jobs and $ 8.7 billion in investments.

It’s already our best year – and it’s only early October. Our economy is on fire – or maybe it’s electric. Kentucky will never again be considered a “flyover state”.

With this opportunity we meet our future. We are transforming our economy and we are building a better Kentucky right now.

Our time is here. Our future is now.


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