Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear recently congratulated Harbor Steel & Supply Corp., a distributor and manufacturer of fabricated products for the steel and aluminum industries, as company and local leadership broke ground on a new $8 million operation in Warren County creating 25 quality jobs for Kentuckians.
“I want to thank the leaders at Harbor Steel for locating their second facility in the commonwealth and growing the company’s commitment to our incredible workforce,” Gov. Beshear said. “The people of Bowling Green and the surrounding region stand to benefit from this investment, and I look forward to seeing this project grow in the months and years ahead.”
Today, Harbor Steel broke ground on a 50,000-square-foot facility in the Kentucky Transpark. In addition to the initial investment, the operation provides opportunity for potential future expansion and job creation. The company’s investment includes acquisition of laser machines, press brakes for forming, automated saws and other equipment. Work on the project is expected to be completed by Q3 2023.
Harbor Steel currently has a location in Lexington, where it opened in 1991 and employs 60 Kentuckians. The Bowling Green facility will support overflow from the Lexington operation and support growth of the company’s customer base and service area.
“The State of Kentucky and Harbor Steel has had such a great relationship over the years. It was only natural to open another location within the commonwealth,” said Michael Weis, president of Harbor Steel. “We are extremely excited to open our new Bowling Green location, and we look forward to supporting the diverse customer base in the area. The region has so much to offer, and we are happy to be a part of the momentum in bringing great jobs to the area.”
Muskegon, Michigan-based Harbor Steel was founded in 1952. The company distributes and manufactures fabricated steel products and specializes in processed sheet and plate for a variety of markets. Harbor Steel’s services include sheet and tube laser cutting, plasma cutting, flame cutting, saw cutting, forming and machining of hot-rolled and cold-rolled aluminum and stainless steel. Aside from its Kentucky presence, the company operates in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia.
The new Harbor Steel location adds to the state’s 230-plus metals-related facilities that employ approximately 25,000 Kentuckians. In 2021 alone, Kentucky’s metals industry has spurred approximately $920 million in planned investment and roughly 1,600 expected new jobs for Kentucky residents.
Warren County Judge/Executive Mike Buchanon thanked the company for its commitment.
“Warren County is a great place to do business and Harbor Steel & Supply is one more shining example of our strong business community,” said Judge Buchanon. “We are grateful for their confidence and investment in our community, and we are looking forward to watching them grow for years to come.”
Bowling Green Mayor Todd Alcott said he anticipates the company will grow in the years to come.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the ground-breaking of Harbor Steel’s exciting new facility today,” said Mayor Alcott. “Their new project plays an integral part in maintaining South Central Kentucky as a vibrant manufacturing hub, and we look forward to seeing them grow and prosper in the region.”
Ron Bunch, president and CEO of the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, highlighted the qualities that have made the company successful.
“Harbor Steel’s emphasis on quality control, on-time delivery and total customer service has driven their company’s success,” said Bunch. “We are honored to celebrate the groundbreaking of their new facility here in Bowling Green and look forward to their future in our community.”
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley congratulated the company on its growth in the commonwealth.
“TVA and Warren RECC are proud to partner with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce to support companies like Harbor Steel, committed to creating jobs and investment in the region,” Bradley said. “We congratulate Harbor Steel on the ground-breaking and look forward to its future business success in the Valley.”
Harbor Steel’s investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.
In 2021, the commonwealth shattered every economic development record in the books. Private-sector new-location and expansion announcements included a record $11.2 billion in total planned investment and commitments to create a record 18,000-plus full-time jobs across the coming years. Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage for projects statewide in 2021 was $24 before benefits, a 9.4% increase over the previous year.
Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for 2021 placed Kentucky atop the South Central region, and third nationally, for qualifying projects per capita.
The economic momentum has carried strongly into 2022. On Jan. 28, S&P Global Ratings upgraded Kentucky’s financial outlook to positive and affirmed its “A-” credit rating. S&P cited a reduced reliance on one-time items to balance the budget and a higher balance in the state’s rainy-day fund as primary factors influencing the change. And at the end of April, Fitch Ratings also elevated its outlook on Kentucky from “stable” to “positive,” recognizing the commonwealth’s surging economy.
In recent months, the commonwealth has announced the two largest economic development projects in state history. In September, Gov. Beshear and leaders from Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation celebrated a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs in Hardin County. Last month, the Governor was joined by leadership at Envision AESC to announce a $2 billion investment that will create 2,000 jobs in Warren County. These announcements solidify Kentucky as the national leader in EV battery production.
And for April 2022, the State Budget Director reported the highest-ever monthly General Fund receipts of $1.84 billion. That is up 34.9% over last April’s collections, bringing Kentucky’s year-to-date growth rate to 16.4%.
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in September 2021 preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $500,000 in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $8 million and annual targets of:
Creation and maintenance of 25 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 10 years; and
Paying an average hourly wage of $30 including benefits across those jobs.
Additionally, KEDFA approved Harbor Steel for up to $100,000 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.
By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.
In addition, the company can receive resources from Kentucky’s workforce service providers. Those include no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job-training incentives.