ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky – The Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation (EHCIF) is celebrating Manufacturing Month by highlighting recent announcements, expansions and innovative product developments among local manufacturers. With approximately 80 manufacturers and supporting industries, more than 9,500 people work in the manufacturing sector in Hardin County, accounting for $421 million in earned wages.
Over the last year, several of the area’s industries completed major expansions and achieved growth milestones, adding square footage and employees to their growing operations.
After a year of work the EHCIF announced Kruger Packaging would begin construction on a $114.2 million state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that will create at least 150 jobs in the coming years in Hardin County. In addition, WL Plastics announced plans to construct a new 60,000-square-foot facility – forecasted to begin in 2022, and Fischbach began construction on a 65,000 sq. ft. addition. Soudal, a Belgian-based adhesive company, also completed its 11,000-square-foot expansion which will house their North American corporate office.
The major recent highlight came with the joint announcement between Ford Motor Company and SK Innovation, who will develop two electric battery plants in what will be known as the BlueOvalSK Battery Park located at the Glendale Megasite. The anticipated investment of $5.8 billion will create 5,000 new jobs and is the single largest economic spend in the history of the state of Kentucky.
“This announcement is a truly transformative event for our community,” said Rick Games, EHCIF president and COO. “It is one of the biggest steps forward we have taken together, and it represents the level of dedication to the industrial economy that our local government and citizens have had for decades.”
Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry echoes Games’ sentiment about the community’s enduring support of economic development. “Our local leaders came together years ago with a bold vision for the Glendale Megasite and worked hard to position Hardin County for industrial investment. Today, we are ecstatic to be a part of the largest investment ever made by Ford Motor Company and the largest economic development project in Kentucky’s history. The opportunities for our region and those who live and work here are endless,” said Berry.
“Our community has been working to attract a major facility for nearly 20 years and partnering with Ford Motor Company and SK Innovation is more than we could have ever imagined,” said Elizabethtown Mayor Jeff Gregory. “In another 20 years, our region will look much different than it does now thanks to this investment, and I think we will all remember where we were the day this announcement was made.”
SmartAsset recently ranked the greater Elizabethtown area as one of the top three Best Places to Work in Manufacturing. EHCIF is a critical player in promoting and elevating Hardin County as the top destination for advanced manufacturing, distribution and industrial companies across the nation.
“We’re constantly working to bring these types of opportunities to our community because we know there will be a widespread impact on the region’s vitality and well-being,” said Games. “We’re happy to celebrate these successes in October for Manufacturing Month and throughout the year.”
Hardin County is the birthplace of many globally-recognized and innovative products made by local manufacturers, such as aerial devices for service trucks, automotive interior kinetic and decorative systems, silicone sealants and adhesives, automotive safety glass, truck and SUV frames, and much more.
The area is also home to countless small businesses, supplying top-of-the-line products and services in their respective industries. Inland Inc., the area’s manufacturer and distributor of silicone sealants, greases, compounds and custom repackaging, recently celebrated 40 years in business.
“One of the reasons our region has experienced such impressive growth is our talented, motivated and well-trained workforce,” said Games. “As employers expand, educators and training providers are rising to the challenge with innovative opportunities for students and adult workers to learn new skills and earn needed certifications.”
Since 2019, partners in workforce development and education have worked together on two programs at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC). Students are learning high-demand IT skills through the Greater Knox Coding Academy, and ECTC is now taking training directly to employers via its new Mobile Training Unit. With the acceptance of a $100,000 grant from the Metallica Scholars Initiative, ECTC will have the opportunity to enhance career and technical education programs with funding for a Mobile Learning Lab and scholarships for eligible students.
In light of these recent accomplishments and in partnership with the City of Elizabethtown, the EHCIF was recently awarded a Product Development Initiative grant of $500,000 by the state. The grant is being used to accelerate site development projects, improvements to stormwater detention basins and utility extensions at the T.J. Patterson Industrial Park.
“Elizabethtown and Hardin County remain positioned for investments in new business and job growth,” said Games. “This is truly a great time to live and work in Elizabethtown and Hardin County.”