From Kentucky Economic Development Guide 2023

Kentucky Puts Your Project on the Fast Track

Speed to Market
Photo: Getty Images

hen Danimer Scientific needed a location for its biodegradable bioplastics business in the Eastern U.S., it chose Winchester, Kentucky, for a major investment.

Why? Speed to market closed the deal.

“Kentucky’s state resources and strong local workforce have provided us with a significant leg up in getting this project off the ground,” said Stephen Croskey, CEO of Danimer Scientific.

This one investment project by the Georgia-based company has helped turn Danimer into one of the world’s biggest producers of a special bioplastic material called PHA. Danimer makes PHA by using micro-organisms that ferment using canola oil.

Kristina Slattery, commissioner of the Department for Business Development for the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development (CED), said this commitment to delivering results quickly “starts from the very beginning — from the moment a lead enters into our world when the consultant reaches out to us. Over and over again, we hear compliments on the Kentucky team being very responsive. There is just something in our culture in the way we do economic development. We get the right people on the phone when we need to. We get the leaders of the appropriate permitting agency on the phone in a matter of minutes.”

She added that “regulators are willing to hop on a call, meet with a company and answer any questions they have. They have designated individuals within their cabinet — people who are metals specialists or EV automotive specialists or other industry experts. Companies know that they are speaking with someone they understand and who can provide solutions.”

Slattery said that everyone at CED takes speed to market seriously. “Everyone who work here knows that time is money,” she said.

Brad Thomas, manager of economic development for Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, said speed to market is one of Kentucky’s calling cards.

“Through our expertise and connections, we help solve site problems for companies on permitting, zoning changes, etc. We take the lead on a lot of that,” he said. “We see ourselves as a facilitator.”

Thomas noted that Kentucky is on a record two-year run for economic development because word has gotten out that Kentucky is the place to be for producing and moving goods to market quickly.

“Part of it is our logistics legacy in Kentucky,” he said. “Also with rail, we move products better than anyone. We are capitalizing on the benefits of a high-quality workforce and our logistical advantage. When we look at the projects landing here, we are seeing a lot of activity in the electric vehicle battery industry, metals manufacturing, food processing and bourbon distilling. Speed to market is critical for every one of these sectors.

“This benefits a lot of folks in Kentucky. We regularly punch above our weight class,” he added. “Kentucky has always been thought of as a coal state. But we have a 100% carbon-neutral distillery, and now we have a second one coming online. We have sites that are ready to roll.”

Speed to market results from a variety of factors, but chief among them are Kentucky’s community and site development efforts, spirit of partnership and willingness to get the job done.

The value of those partnerships cannot be overstated. Helping a company move from project announcement to being fully operational requires the cooperation of dozens of state agencies. Coordination between CED and the Kentucky Energy & Environment Cabinet helps firms address permitting needs in a timely manner.

That spirit of teamwork sets the commonwealth apart to help growing companies meet their goals faster than anywhere else. 

Danimer Scientific is making a major investment in Winchester, Kentucky,
to grow its biodegradable bioplastics business.
Photo courtesy of Danimer Scientific

Ron Starner
Executive Vice President of Conway, Inc.

Ron Starner

Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.


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