SITE DEVELOPMENT
From Kentucky Economic Development Guide 2024
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Kentucky Product Development Initiative

Investment in quality sites and buildings positions the commonwealth for statewide growth.

Site Development
Kentucky leaders have increased investment in the state’s quality sites portfolio.
Photo courtesy of the Kentucky Office of the Governor

by RON STARNER
I

f you want to know what site development means for economic growth, look no further than Adair County in rural South Central Kentucky. 

When Phillips Tank & Structure (PTS) announced last September that it would invest $2.76 million to build a new plant and create 20 new full-time jobs in the Columbia area, the move signaled to everyone that the Kentucky Product Development Initiative (KPDI) is working.

KPDI provided the state and local funding essential to developing a build-ready site for PTS in the Green River Commerce Park just off Highway 55 outside of Columbia.

The company is acquiring six acres owned by the Columbia-Adair County Economic Development Authority. The tract is a site that has been approved to receive $460,000 in grant funding from KPDI. PTS plans to build a 15,000-square-foot. fabrication shop, 5,000-square-foot. tool house and garage, and 5,000 square feet of office space. 

 

SITE DEVELOPMENT-1

The site of the AESC gigafactory in Warren County was one of many around the state to benefit from the state’s commitment to site development.

Photo courtesy of the Kentucky Office of the Governor

 

“We have been searching for suitable locations to expand our branch offices,” PTS Vice President Jeff Sassic said about the Pennsylvania-based company. “The available state and county incentives made Adair County, Kentucky, an attractive option that was difficult to pass up. The Adair County Economic Development Authority representatives were wonderful to deal with and made the process as easy as possible.”

Heather Spoon, consultant for the county EDA, said “The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development could not have been any more helpful to us. They never got tired of me calling them and asking for help. We wanted to build a certified build-ready pad with utilities, and the KPDI funding made it happen. This is really a great community success story. The local EDA, the county government and the state all came together to fund a project that benefits the entire community.”

The project was the beneficiary of round one of funding for KPDI, which saw $31.2 million in funding approved for 53 local community projects through December 2023.

Combined with local contributions, these KPDI-funded projects are generating more than $123 million in investments into Kentucky’s expanding portfolio of available sites and buildings.

SITE DEVELOPMENT-2Giving Regional Development a Push

“The Kentucky Product Development Initiative is a crucial effort helping to ensure we have sites available for companies to grow and add new jobs to our already thriving economy,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Identifying and developing new sites that are shovel-ready ensures that our local communities have everything they need to land major economic development projects.”

Round two of the program has $68.8 million in funding available with 46 projects in 45 counties under consideration. The first round-two approvals occurred in early 2024 with the remainder in the due diligence stage under review at the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. 

Kristina Slattery, the Cabinet’s commissioner of the Department for Business and Community Development, said that without KPDI, many smaller communities in rural Kentucky would not be able to attract the type of industrial development projects they need to thrive and provide good-paying jobs for residents. 

“We are seeing multiple jurisdictions come together to assemble sites,” she said. “Promotion of regionalism has been a key to this. Traditionally, KPDI has made sites better. But with this new round, it has been even more impressive.”

 

SITE DEVELOPMENT-3

 

Green River Commerce Park in Adair County.

Photo courtesy of Columbia-Adair County EDA

 

Clark County, Franklin County and Warren County landed huge investment deals from industrial end-users because their communities received KPDI funds, Slattery notes. 

“Tyson Foods in Bowling Green had its ribbon cutting in January. They are up and operational. That is on a KPDI site. Pratt Paper did a grand opening in late 2023 after a pilot PDI project funded a gas line extension in Henderson in Northwest Kentucky. None of these deals would have happened without a commitment to site development.”

A Portfolio of Available Sites

Brad Thomas, manager of economic development for Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, said that site development is Kentucky’s ace in the hole. “We’ve gotten good at figuring out where the next megasites need to be,” he said. “Everybody wants 1,000 acres now. There are few places like that available around the country. Pulling it together quickly is what it is all about. We want to know upfront whether it is going to be a good site. We can do that through KPDI.”

KPDI was created in partnership between the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and the Kentucky Association for Economic Development (KAED). It was originally supported by $100 million in funding approved by Gov. Beshear and the state legislature in 2023. Gov. Beshear has since asked for another $100 million in state funding for the program.

 

KPDI-funded projects have generated more than $123 million in investments into Kentucky’s expanding portfolio of available sites and buildings.

Source: Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development

 

Kentucky is also home to more than 20 Build-Ready sites and has others working toward certification. To date, 11 former Build-Ready sites have companies planning to build new location projects on them. These are going to places like Barren, Butler, Christian, Graves, Hart and Laurel counties. In Warren County, five Build-Ready sites have been selected by companies for investments.

According to Haley McCoy, president and CEO of KAED, “KPDI has done so much to identify and highlight the opportunities that exist outside the major population centers in Kentucky. More than half of our counties have successfully competed for KPDI funding and won grants to prepare sites to win projects. We’ve seen communities from the far west to the far east in Kentucky win awards and win projects. KPDI is a beautiful thing to see. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.” 

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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