Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced further growth of the state’s distribution and logistics sector as Renfro Supply Co., one of the region’s largest wholesalers, will expand operations in Whitley County with a nearly $8.5 million expansion creating 25 jobs for Kentucky residents.
“We are building an economy that works for every single Kentuckian,” said Gov. Beshear. “Investments from companies like Renfro Supply, which has been serving the commonwealth for 100 years, is helping us achieve that goal. This is a great day for Southeast Kentucky and the residents of Whitley County. I want to thank the company’s leadership for their continued support and I look forward to many more years of success from them here in the commonwealth.”
The investment will see the company expand its current operations with a 51,000-square-foot facility on 6 acres, which will more than double the space of the company’s current footprint. This project comes in response to growing customer demand and continued growth and will allow Renfro Supply to provide the full product offering of a convenience store, along with additional opportunities to serve other businesses. The project will create 25 quality jobs for residents in the area, bringing the company’s total number of Kentucky employees to 46. Construction on the new site is anticipated to begin this month and be completed by June 2023.
“The new facility is a long overdue expansion of our capacity as a distributor,” said Renfro Supply President and CEO Burley McFarland. “The new space allows for growth and the ability to diversify within our industry, allowing access to many new job opportunities. We look forward to being able to offer new products and services the former facility would not afford.”
Based in Williamsburg in Southeastern Kentucky, Renfro Supply is one of the largest wholesalers of goods in the region. The company was founded in 1922 by Simon Renfro and has been located in the same building for the past century. Since the company was founded, it has delivered over 9 million products to its customer base; offering over 10,000 products and goods in its catalogue. Renfro Supply provides service and delivery of goods to retail stores, convenience stores, restaurants and schools, among other businesses.
Renfro Supply’s growth builds on the state’s strength in distribution and logistics, an industry that has announced more than 6,000 full-time jobs for Kentucky residents during the administration behind $1.2 billion in new investment. The new facility also adds to Kentucky’s growing agribusiness sector, which currently employs more than 20,000 people statewide. Since the start of the Beshear administration, companies within the industry have announced $935 million in new investment and nearly 2,100 full-time jobs for Kentuckians.
Whitley County Judge/Executive Pat White Jr. said he is excited to see continued investment in the community.
“The Whitley County Fiscal Court and the Whitley County Industrial Development Authority are glad to see any new investments in our community like this, especially from an existing business that has been such a big part of our community for so long,” Judge White said. “It’s wonderful to see homegrown businesses continue their success in the communities that they were created in.”
Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison noted the economic impact the company has had and will continue to have on the city and surrounding area.
“I am thrilled that Renfro Supply, a Williamsburg business for 100 years, has chosen to expand and stay in Williamsburg,” said Mayor Harrison. “They are – as always – contributing to the economic growth of our city and region with more job opportunities and more product distribution. The City of Williamsburg is excited to be part of this!”
Bruce Carpenter, executive director of the Southern Kentucky Economic Development Agency, said he is thrilled to see Renfro Supply expand and bring new jobs to the region.
“It has been a pleasure working with the owners of Renfro Supply on their expansion, and I am very pleased that we were able to retain their business operations and existing employees, as well as adding an additional 25 new jobs, in Williamsburg/Whitley County,” said Carpenter. “Congratulations on their 100-year anniversary and expansion. I look forward to a mutually beneficial partnership with Renfro Supply for many years to come.”
Renfro Supply Co.’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.
In the past year, the Beshear administration announced the two largest economic development projects in state history. In September 2021, 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. And in April of this year, 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 EV battery production capital of the United States.
The economic momentum has carried strongly into 2022, with both S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings upgrading Kentucky’s financial outlook to positive in recognition of the commonwealth’s surging economy.
And Site Selection magazine placed Kentucky at 6th in its annual Prosperity Cup rankings for 2022, which recognizes state-level economic success based on capital investments.
Kentucky has posted record low unemployment rates for four consecutive months, falling from 3.9% in April to 3.8% in May and 3.7% in June and July.
In July, the Governor reported the highest annual growth rate in 31 years. And for the second year in a row, Kentucky’s General Fund budget surplus has exceeded $1 billion. Also in July, Gov. Beshear reported that the state’s rainy day fund is up to a record balance of $2.7 billion, significantly higher than the $129 million balance the fund had when the Governor took office.
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in August preliminarily approved a 15-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 nearly $8.5 million and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 25 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 15 years; and
- Paying an average hourly wage of $20 including benefits across those jobs.
Additionally, KEDFA approved Renfro Supply Co. 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, Renfro Supply Co. 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.