After 20 years of commercializing Glendale’s megasite, Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation President and COO Rick Games breathes a sigh of relief.
After the initial announcement Monday afternoon that Ford is bringing the biggest manufacturing investment in Kentucky history to the site, Games is finally seeing all of the hard work preparing and marketing the site pay off.
“Our time has come,” he said. “I think what’s exciting about it is the quality of the company that takes the site, and the advanced technology and manufacturing that will take place in this new era of battery-electric vehicles.”
The industrial foundation and partners from the utility, government and business sectors have worked for approximately two decades to acquire the 1,500-acre property, connect utilities to include sewerage at Glendale, and others plans to attract a high caliber company such as Ford, Games mentioned.
“It’s teamwork,” he says. “All the boxes that need to be ticked to be considered for a project like this, that’s what I’ve been doing for 20 years.
The industrial megasite will house twin manufacturing plants to produce batteries for next-generation Ford and Lincoln electric vehicles.
“It’s really transformative in a way that I don’t think anyone realizes right now,” said Jim DuPlessis, State Representative for 25th District, R-Elizabethtown, who represents the Glendale area. “It’s going to inject money for schools, roads, infrastructure, jobs for people looking for jobs, jobs for people looking for better jobs. It will be a godsend of improvements for our community.
Along with the $ 5.8 billion investment comes the promise of 5,000 new jobs for Hardin County. An official announcement with state and Ford officials came on Tuesday afternoon at a televised press conference watched by county officials at the Hardin County government building.
“We have work to do,” Hardin County Deputy Executive Judge Daniel London told other officials in attendance. “Everyone gets attached. “
The announcement of a large anonymous company coming to the site began earlier this month with the adoption of an economic development package at a special session of the General Assembly.
The bipartisan effort spent $ 410 million of Kentucky’s $ 1.9 billion “rainy day” budget reserve trust fund to help attract Ford and SK Innovations to the site.
“My side of it has just been on the legislative side in trying to make sure that the packages that were needed to attract Ford, that these get approved and passed,” DuPlessis said.
“A lot of people deserve credit for this,” he added. “Twenty years ago people had the foresight to try to bring this megasite to Hardin County. … The effort and foresight, which has made us a credible place for huge opportunity nationwide, someone has seen and worked on.
Another part of the incentive package passed by the state legislature will inject $ 50 million into worker training programs to provide needed employees.
The programs will be managed by Bluegrass Skills Corp. and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, for which ECTC is the local campus. About $ 25 million of that money would go towards building a training center for the community college system on the megasite.
“I think it’s good for the whole region, which of course means it’s good for the college,” said ECTC President and CEO Dr Juston Pate, qualifying Ford’s big win announcement. “It means we have a lot of work to do. We all have a role to play in supporting this location and of course the college will have a big role to play in supporting this workforce. It is extremely exciting for the college, the community and the Commonwealth.
Pate said that as details of what is required of the college are yet to be determined, no timeline for the implementation of programs has been set.
“We will definitely be looking at new training programs,” he said. We will be looking at community colleges across the country that have degree programs in place to support this industry.
Being part of the community college system will allow programs to roll out quickly, Pate said.
“We will work closely with the company to determine what the specific needs are, what examples of programs exist that will work well to support their industry; then we’ll start working to add them to the college program catalog, ”he said. “Then there will be a lot of these types of uncredited, non-degree training that we add to prepare the workforce to do the jobs that need to be done. “
DuPlessis said another part of the site’s appeal lies in the education systems around it.
“Here’s the big part, we have the educational resources,” said DuPlessis. “With strong schools, our two school systems are in the top 20 in the state, and the ECTC right here in the county, that was just what we got.”
Hardin County Schools spokesperson John Wright said the district had prepared for the potential of a large business at the site by working on its district facilities plan, which included a new East Middle School. Hardin which should open soon.
“We had to act like something was going to happen, we just didn’t know when,” he said. “Obviously with the location of the new East Hardin it will be a raffle and the renovations we are doing at Central Hardin (high school) that will definitely help. … We are just ready.
Some programs the district has already in place, particularly at the county’s Early College and Career Center, will help prepare students for employment after graduation.
“Obviously our engineering background is extremely strong and has been recognized on the world stage,” he said. “These students will be very prepared to graduate and immediately enter the workforce at Ford, due to the first-hand knowledge and experiences they have gained in our district.”
Wright said the district needs to have conversations with local leaders, and then possibly Ford, to help determine curricula and support to help prepare graduates to successfully enter the workforce.
“We are very excited about our community because we know that our students, once they graduate, will have even more options now,” he said. “There are so many options for our students when they graduate and now there will be so many more. We are so grateful to live, work, play and learn in Hardin County, Kentucky.
With a schedule to open the first factory in 2025, Games said it believes work will begin on the site quickly.
“We’re delighted to have completed this part of the ad so we can put the gloves on and really get to work,” he said.
Gina Clear can be contacted at 270-505-1418 or [email protected]