Op-Ed: Ford, SK Innovation and Ky. Leading the Automotive Industry of the Future
The following op-ed is written by Gov. Andy Beshear
During my inaugural address, held on the Capitol steps in Frankfort less than two years ago, I said advanced manufacturing was an area where Kentucky was “poised to be a national leader – if we have the vision and the will to be bold.”
Because of that boldness, last week Ford’s Executive Chair Bill Ford, CEO Jim Farley, COO for North America Lisa Drake and Dong-Seob Jee, president of SK Innovation’s battery business, joined me on those same Capitol steps to announce we will build the largest electric battery plants in the country right off I-65 in Hardin County.
Together, with our partners’ courage, vision and support, 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 economic development records.
This is the single largest capital investment ever made in the commonwealth, at nearly $6 billion.
It’s the largest single jobs announcement in Kentucky’s history, with an estimated 5,000 full-time jobs – and they are good-wage jobs. Even better: That number doesn’t include the many construction, supplier and dealership jobs we also expect this investment to generate.
These twin plants in Glendale combined will produce 86 gigawatt-hours per year, making them what I believe will be the largest battery plants in the country and a top producer of advanced batteries that will power the next generation of Ford and Lincoln vehicles.
These enormous plants will capture the attention of the entire world. Every nation will know exactly where Kentucky is and who we are – because in this state, we know horsepower, and it’s about to be generated in a whole new way.
Right now, there isn’t an electric vehicle battery supply chain in the United States – so we’re going to build it right here in the commonwealth. We’re already hearing from potential electric vehicle suppliers who are showing interest in coming to Kentucky, creating even more jobs throughout our booming Auto Alley.
There are so many to thank for their support and hard work, including the team at the Cabinet for Economic Development and everybody in Hardin County – the mayor, the county judge/executive, members of the Industrial Foundation and the local economic development team – thank you for your tremendous work.
I also appreciate members of the General Assembly, who passed supportive legislation immediately during the recent special session. This bipartisan effort showed our ability to get things done, and we proved that politics will never keep us from creating better jobs for our people.
What an extraordinary partnership and past we have had with the Ford Motor Company for more than a century, from building the Model T and military jeeps to assembling some of Ford’s current line of 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 approximately 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, when we were struggling, just like other states, to secure enough PPE, Ford donated masks to our state stockpile. To date, they have donated at least 3.5 million masks for our health care heroes and schoolchildren.
When I think about those children – our children – they are so much of why 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 everything I can to make this a better commonwealth for every Kentuckian, with opportunities for all of our people.
With this announcement, we shatter every economic development record in the books for yearly investment totals. This year alone we have announced 11,700 private sector jobs and $8.7 billion in investments.
This is already our best year ever – and it’s only the beginning of October. Our economy is on fire – or maybe it’s electric. Never again will Kentucky be thought of as a “flyover state.”
With this opportunity, we are meeting our future. We are transforming our economy, and we are building that better Kentucky right now.
Our time is here. Our future is right now.