Governor Andy Beshear has designated October as Manufacturing Month in the Commonwealth.
By doing so, we pause to appreciate this critical sector’s role in Kentucky’s economy, especially in the central and northeast regions. The manufacturing sector employs over 250,000 Kentuckians in 5,000 different operation specialities; nearly 75,000 of those workers reside in our region. About 14% of our state’s workforce is involved in manufacturing, nearly double the national average, and the sector contributes $37 billion to our GDP each year.
When we speak of manufacturing, our minds tend to picture the automotive industry. Kentucky is a national leader in this space and home to the largest Toyota manufacturing facility in the world (Georgetown). We also recently announced two additional major economic development projects in Warren and Hardin counties related to the production of electric vehicle batteries. But we do much more than just cars.
The Pop-Tart you enjoyed for breakfast was produced at a Kellogg’s facility near Pikeville. The Uncrustables peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you pack in your child’s lunchbox was likely made at the Smuckers facility in Allen County. You can thank Paducah for the Dippin’ Dots that cooled you off at the last festival or sporting event you attended. If you have seen a Corvette cruising down the road, remember that the only place those are made is Bowling Green.
Maybe you watched Game 1 of the World Series on Friday…several players stepped to the plate with a Louisville Slugger bat produced in Jefferson County. Do you enjoy the occasional sip of bourbon? The drink and the white oak barrel staves used to age the Kentucky staple were likely both produced in the Commonwealth in places like Bardstown, Morehead, Lawrenceburg, Lebanon, or Frankfort. Ever boogie down under a mirrored disco ball? Chances are those were produced here at Omega National Products. Who doesn’t love creamy Jif peanut butter? The only place in the United States that supplies this household staple is located in Lexington.
Jot down a reminder on a Post-It note? Those are exclusively manufactured at the Cynthiana 3M facility. Maybe you are reading this column on your Apple iPhone. The Gorilla Glass screen for that device was very likely produced at the Corning plant in Harrodsburg. If you recently played a game of rummy or euchre on Bicycle playing cards, the world’s most popular brand, please thank Boone County. Do you walk on a treadmill for exercise? It, and other exercise equipment, was likely produced by Life Fitness in Pendleton County. Grilling season is nearly over, but if you used Kingsford brand charcoal briquettes this summer to make a burger or steak, those likely came from Burnside. Dunnville is home to Tarter, maker of gates, feed troughs, and other steel farm essentials.
More regionally, the kitchen cabinets in your home could have been made at the Masco CabinetWorks facility in Mt Sterling. CTI Foods in Owingsville produces many fresh and frozen meat products we see in our grocery stores. They also serve as a major supplier for the Nestle facility in Mt Sterling, which produces most of North America’s Hot Pockets. Getting hungry yet?
The Marathon Petroleum refinery near Ashland may have helped fuel your car. Berry Global has two facilities in Kentucky (Franklin and Augusta) that produce several plastic and hygiene products likely within your reach right now. The Precision Pulley & Idler facility in Maysville may have helped convey packages through a FedEx or UPS facility that are sitting on your doorstep waiting to be opened.
Kentucky makes things. We make things better. Kentuckians take what they are given, add to it, repurpose it, refine it, assemble it, and hand it back to the world in a more useful form. Kentucky is manufacturing.
Maybe you aren’t employed in the manufacturing sector, but it heavily influences your everyday life. The newspaper or digital device you’re currently holding was manufactured. The clothes you are wearing are a product of a manufacturing process. The car you drive, the bed you sleep on, the television you watch, the water heater responsible for your warm shower…all manufactured, likely at a facility with ties to our part of the Commonwealth.
By Jeremy Faulkner, The Ledger Independent / This column was originally posted at maysville-online.com