Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products LLC (KAAP) is expanding for a seventh time in Bowling Green, KY. The Kobe, Japan-based aluminum parts manufacturer, which supplies parts for the automotive industry, will invest more than $51 million and create 129 full-time jobs.
KAAP will add more than 108,000 square feet to accommodate new production lines and equipment, including a melting furnace, forging presses and heat-treatment, casting and machining lines. The additional capacity will allow the company to meet increased sales goals. The company expects the project to take approximately one year, with the start of production targeted for fall 2018.
“This is our 12th year producing aluminum automobile suspension parts in Kentucky. Two years ago we decided to make our sixth investment, and due to the increasing necessity of lighter vehicles, we have decided to make another investment,” said Toshihiro Katsura, KAAP president and CEO. “This will be our seventh additional investment, and we are truly grateful to the Commonwealth of Kentucky for all of the support and incentives we have received.”
The plant’s previous expansions total $293 million and it currently employs 500 Kentucky residents full-time. KAAP manufactures lightweight aluminum parts, including upper and lower control arms and steering knuckles. Lighter parts help reduce overall vehicle weight, which contributes to greater fuel economy and lower emission levels.
“This expansion by Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products is a shining example of growth among advanced manufacturers in Kentucky,” said Gov. Matt Bevin. “Since establishing its Bowling Green plant in 2004, KAAP has proven itself an excellent corporate partner in the Commonwealth’s automotive industry. We are grateful for the company’s dedication to the state and are excited to see this remarkable success continue.”
To encourage the investment and job growth, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in April preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $2 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
Additionally, KEDFA approved KAAP for up to $200,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
In addition, KAAP can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. In fiscal year 2016, the Kentucky Skills Network provided training for nearly 95,000 Kentuckians and 5,000 companies from a variety of industry sectors.
Kentucky’s automotive industry includes more than 500 facilities employing 100,000-plus residents full-time. The state ranks first nationally in light-vehicle production per-capita and is one of the top automotive production states overall. The KAAP announcement brings the state’s 2017 automotive-sector total investment to more than $1.43 billion with nearly 280 new full-time jobs.