By Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development
Kentucky saw record economic growth during Governor Andy Beshear’s first term, and the momentum shows no sign of slowing.
Since the beginning of his administration, Gov. Beshear has announced more than 940 private-sector new-location and expansion projects totaling over $28.5 billion in announced investments, creating more than 50,505 full-time jobs. This is the highest investment figure for any governor in state history.
The robust investment and job creation has been accompanied by rising wages across the commonwealth. Average incentivized hourly wages topped $26 per hour in consecutive years for the first time with $26.87 in 2022 and $26.67 in 2023.
Also this year, Gov. Beshear announced the state record for the longest period with the lowest unemployment rates in state history.
“The past four years have held many challenges for the commonwealth, including a global health pandemic, the deadly tornadoes that hit Western Kentucky two years ago and last year’s historic flooding that affected so many families in Eastern Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear. “But it has also been four years of new opportunities, and we have many reasons to believe the future has never been brighter for our residents. I want to thank every company that has put down roots in the commonwealth and put their faith in Kentuckians. I look forward to taking our economy even further during my second term.”
Gov. Beshear recently reported that General Fund receipts for October 2023 totaled over $1 billion, marking the 14th straight month with revenues over $1 billion. He also announced that his administration secured the largest General Fund budget surplus and Rainy Day Fund, as well as the most jobs filled in state history.
The General Fund budget surplus at the end of fiscal year 2023 of more than $1.55 billion will contribute to the commonwealth’s Rainy Day Fund, bringing the fund to a record balance of $3.7 billion – a 2,700% increase since Gov. Beshear took office in 2019.
Kentucky also secured credit rating increases from major agencies. On May 12, Gov. Beshear announced that his administration obtained the first state-level credit rating upgrade in 13 years and the first-ever upgrade from Fitch Ratings. The commonwealth also received its first-ever rating increase from S&P Global Ratings. Recently, Moody’s Investors Service upgraded Kentucky’s credit outlook from stable to positive.
That success has led to recognition on a national scale.
Site Selection magazine placed Kentucky first in the South Central region and top five nationally in its 2023 Prosperity Cup ranking, which recognizes state-level economic development agencies for their success in landing capital investment projects. The publication also placed Kentucky second nationwide and first in the South Central region for its annual Governor’s Cup ranking for 2022, which recognizes state-level economic success based on capital investments.
But Kentucky’s recent success is no accident. The combination of a long history of economic development and numerous announcements to build the foundation for the supply chain and logistical support of the state’s industries has set the commonwealth up as a leader for years to come.
That was solidified at the end of 2022 when the Governor secured the best two-year period in state history for economic growth and announced the two largest economic development projects in state history.
In September 2021, Gov. Beshear and leaders from Ford Motor Co. and SK On celebrated a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs in Hardin County. BOSK also announced a partnership with Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC) to build the ECTC BlueOval SK Training Center in Glendale, which will allow the 5,000 people employed by BOSK to prepare for their future careers.
In April 2022, the Governor was joined by leadership at AESC to announce a $2 billion investment that will create 2,000 jobs in Warren County. These announcements position Kentucky as the EV battery production capital of the United States.
That position was strengthened even further in May 2023, when the Governor and leaders at Toyota announced a $591 million investment across multiple projects as the company’s largest manufacturing operation in Georgetown introduced its first battery electric vehicle. Growth within the EV sector continued into June as Gov. Beshear joined INFAC North America to break ground on the company’s $53 million investment to support EV-related production in the south-central Kentucky community of Campbellsville.
And EV battery manufacturing is not the only signature industry Kentucky saw growth in over the past four years, as the state’s bourbon and spirits industry continues to thrive with all-time highs of $2.1 billion in new investments and 700 full-time jobs announced in 2022.
Currently, the commonwealth has distilleries in one-third of Kentucky counties, with that footprint expected to increase in the years ahead, and 95 percent of the world’s bourbon is produced in the state.
Since the start of the Beshear administration, about 70 spirits-related announcements have generated roughly $2.8 billion in new investment, creating more than 1,300 full-time jobs for Kentuckians. Governor Beshear also worked with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to remove harmful bourbon tariffs on trade with the United Kingdom and European Union, ensuring continuing strength in the export market, with $430.9 million in all spirits and $339.3 million in whiskey exports in 2021 alone. And Kentucky is on pace to exceed those figures in the years to come.
These announcements highlight the diversity of industry in Kentucky and what truly makes these projects transformational for Kentuckians. Not only are companies locating in and making significant investments in the state, but also creating thousands of quality job opportunities for residents and showing a commitment to provide the workforce with the skills needed for long-term success.
Team Kentucky has built a foundation for economic growth that is made to last with thriving partnerships statewide, and the state will continue to see the benefits of those efforts for generations to come.
Learn more at CED.ky.gov.