Aerospace Industry Finds a Hub in Kentucky

The state of Kentucky is home to a booming aerospace manufacturing cluster. Kentucky has seen a 63% increase in the private aerospace products and parts manufacturing industry since 2002. Aerospace exports outpace all other exports in Kentucky, which includes horses, bourbon, and cars.

In 2015, car exports topped Kentucky’s list of exports, and aerospace was third, but now aerospace has passed car exports. Over 24 aerospace companies reside in Kentucky, and if you expand the region to include parts of southwestern Ohio and southeastern Indiana, this tri-state region boasts more than 60 aerospace companies.

Kentucky Power, an AEP operating company, has awarded multiple grants to attract jobs and support economic development, specifically, in the aerospace industry. Most recently, Kentucky Power supplied an $84,000 grant to attract jobs and support economic development in the aerospace industry.

The grant was awarded to Ashland Alliance and will be used to attract aerospace industry by gaining AIReady Certification by Common Sense Economic Development for Boyd and Greenup counties in Kentucky. The alliance also plans to use the grant to fund an extensive marketing campaign to promote the industrial sites to the aerospace industry and other businesses.

This award is a part of the Kentucky Power Economic Development Growth Grants (K-PEGG) program, which is funded through the Kentucky Economic Development Surcharge approved by the Kentucky Public Service Commission in 2015. For every 15 cents collected monthly from customers, company stockholders match the customer contributions dollar-for-dollar to generate $600,000 annually for investment at the local and regional levels. This is just one of many grants that have been awarded this year, and Kentucky Power is also actively working to extend the region south of Ashland.

East Kentucky Involvement

This important work of setting up Kentucky as an aerospace corridor began in the East Kentucky market with AEP support of One East Kentucky and its aerospace feasibility study through another K-PEGG award of $37,500. The aerospace industry is expected to grow in the next 10 to 15 years, and Kentucky is the perfect place for these businesses to grow.

Kentucky has a highly skilled workforce, as well as excellent training programs, for continued growth in the labor market. Kentucky has lots of highly skilled, unemployed steel workers, and the number one workforce need in aerospace is metal workers.

East Kentucky, in particular, has eight times the national average of metal workers from its rich heritage with the coal and steel industries.  East Kentucky has the assets needed for a successful labor force in this industry. In addition, due to the high concentration of aerospace in Kentucky, many post-secondary institutions offer programs tailored to the industry.

It is East Kentucky’s hope that any new and expanding companies will see what a great place Kentucky is to operate and to do business and will see why so many aerospace companies call it home. East Kentucky is working hard to reach success; it has the resources and assets, and it is ready for growth.

If you would like to read more, The Daily Independent wrote about the economic development efforts in eastern Kentucky on September 12, 2016.

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