With Kentucky being one of the United States’ top producers of cars and light trucks, we talk a lot about the impact of our four major manufacturing plants, not just on their local communities but also on parts manufacturers and suppliers around the state.
During an event touting the Ford Motor Co.’s new investment in Louisville on Thursday, I heard a number that puts that spin-off in perspective.
That’s the value of parts and other goods that Ford will buy this year from more than 180 suppliers in Kentucky (actually, Ford Vice President John Fleming said “more than $3.8 billion”).
That’s a lot of parts, creating economic impact throughout the state.
That’s one of the many reasons I have been so thrilled by Ford’s ongoing investment in its Louisville Assembly Plant and its Kentucky Truck Plant in Jefferson County.
If you recall, with the car industry facing huge challenges during the recession, the future of those plants was in doubt. But I as governor and then-Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson put in long hours on the phone and even flying to Michigan to convince Ford to stay in Louisville and Kentucky.
The company’s decision in 2008 to retool the plants saved about 5,000 jobs.
Ford strengthened its commitment last year when it announced it would invest $600 million to retool LAP to build the next-generation Ford Escape, and add in the process add 1,800 workers.
On Thursday, Ford executives came in to see those changes and to confirm additional news: a planned $621 million investment in the truck plant over the next four years, and the likely addition of a third shift toward the end of next year at LAP, totaling about 1,300 new workers.
In one year, that’s more than $1.2 billion in new investment, and 3,100 new jobs.
I am proud of the efforts of myself and others – including former Mayor Abramson and Sec. Larry Hayes and other members of the state Cabinet for Economic Development – to work with Ford to negotiate the investments and to set up incentives to help make the expansions successful.
I also want to acknowledge the efforts of UAW leaders and members who worked with Ford management to write and approve a new contract.
As a result, our economy benefits, the community benefits, the company benefits and our families benefit.