WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
From Kentucky Economic Development Guide 2024
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Creating the Workforce You Need

Kentucky provides companies with the support they need to craft the perfect employee.

Workforce Development
Ford Motor Co. is one of many companies in Kentucky to capitalize on workforce training funding available from the state.
Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

by LINDSAY LOPP
I

n today’s economic climate, finding the right employee is like winning the lottery. With various industries experiencing labor shortages and skills gaps due to emerging technologies, it has become increasingly difficult for businesses to access talent suited to their needs.

Realizing this dilemma, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development has put together two competitive incentives that encourage companies to take workforce training into their own hands and mold individuals into the workers they want.

Spearheaded by the Bluegrass State Skills Corporation, the Grant-in-Aid (GIA) program provides reimbursement dollars to applicants, while the Skills Training Investment Credit (STIC) provides a Kentucky income tax credit for approved training activities.

Manufacturing, agribusiness, nonretail service or technology, headquarters operations, state-licensed hospital operations, coal severing and processing, alternative fuel, gasification, carbon dioxide transmission pipelines and renewable energy production are among the range of operations benefiting from these programs.

 

“We find ourselves in one of the most ‘electric’ regions of the country because of tremendous partnerships, collaboration and the willingness of both public and private to invest in the future.”

– Jeff Gregory, Mayor of Elizabethtown 

 

And businesses aren’t the only ones bolstered by this resource. Through connecting companies with these funds and the collaborators necessary to execute training, communities in every region of Kentucky are exploding with opportunities to learn new skills and forge good-paying careers.

In fiscal year 2022, over $8.4 million was allocated to businesses statewide, resulting in skills training for more than 35,400 people. Building on this achievement, the initiative’s impact grew to $10 million over the following year, supporting 115 applicants in their upskilling efforts and benefiting an additional 35,000 workers.

Fast forward to fiscal year 2024, and the BSSC’s outreach is surging. With two rounds of funds and credits collectively exceeding a total of $17 million already announced, Kentucky leadership continues its unwavering commitment to bolstering businesses and communities of differing strengths and sizes throughout the state.  

The first round of funding for this financial period saw multiple companies in communities across Kentucky access support to grow the skills of new and current hires. Bowling Green Metalforming LLC and Louisville Seating in Shepherdsville; James Marine Inc. in Paducah; Dr. Schneider Automotive Systems Inc. in Russell Springs; Waystar Inc. in Louisville; and three separate hospitals — Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset, Clark Regional Medical Center in Winchester and Bourbon Community Hospital in Paris — all received a slice of nearly $2 million.

“One of Kentucky’s greatest strengths is its talented, skilled workforce,” said Gov. Beshear in August. “This funding will provide nearly 7,000 Kentuckians with the training they need to succeed. Staying competitive and building on the commonwealth’s historic economic momentum starts with our state’s talented and motivated workforce. Programs like the Bluegrass State Skills Corporation are crucial to ensuring Kentucky’s future success.”

Where Emerging Industries Want to Be 

With Industry 4.0 and the emergence of electric vehicles and clean energy transforming entire industries, Kentucky is able to secure major projects in new sectors due to the support and resources these programs provide.

 

Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant

Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

 

During the BSSC’s most recent round of investments, industry giants such as Hitachi Astemo Americas Inc. and Toyotetsu America Inc. were among the 21 companies whose projects were selected to receive funding. Last November’s approvals dispersed over $15.2 million in grants and credits to an array of companies and consortia that will provide training for 15,500 workers.

One of the state’s most significant economic wins of the last few years, Ford’s $5.8 billion BlueOval SK Battery Park, received the largest cut from this round, a whopping $10 million grant to assist in training 5,000 employees.

“Our workforce development initiatives are some of the most important and proactive steps we can take for the future of Kentucky’s economy,” said Gov. Beshear in November. “This funding will help train workers at BlueOval SK Battery Park in Glendale and roughly 20 other operations statewide, helping prepare thousands of Kentuckians to make an impact in their communities, while also better supporting their families through skilled, good-paying jobs. We’re committed to building a pipeline for the workforce of the future and this is the latest example of that commitment.”

To further support the development of these workers, Ford and BlueOval have also partnered with Kentucky leadership and Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC) to construct a 42,000 -square-foot training center where students will become versed in SK On’s proprietary technical, quality and manufacturing processes.

Backed by a $25 million appropriation from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the ECTC BlueOval SK Training Center will feature high-tech virtual reality labs, an industrial maintenance lab, a work simulation lab and ergonomics techniques classrooms. Construction for this project began in April 2023, with completion slated for this year. It will be the only co-branded learning facility within the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

“This beautiful training center will lead the way for others to follow and will help create a unique workforce to support this unprecedented electric vehicle battery facility,” said Jeff Gregory, mayor of Elizabethtown, in a press release. “We find ourselves in one of the most ‘electric’ regions of the country because of tremendous partnerships, collaboration and the willingness of both public and private to invest in the future.”  

Lindsay Lopp
Associate Editor of Site Selection magazine

Lindsay Lopp

Lindsay Lopp joined Conway Data in 2023. She is the assistant editor of the company’s Custom Content division and regularly contributes to Site Selection magazine. In 2021, she graduated from Pratt Institute with her BFA in Creative Writing and is currently completing her MFA in Popular Fiction and Publishing at Emerson College.





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