Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Study projects Hardin County population to swell by 22,000 due to massive electric vehicle battery plants

Barton Malow

A consultant's report released this week highlights some of the growing pains ahead for Hardin County, the site of Kentucky's largest ever economic development project.

Two electric vehicle battery plants under construction in Glendale by BlueOval SK are expected to bring more than 22,000 new residents to Hardin County.

The study by Louisville-based Luke Schmidt and Associates was commissioned last year by the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce. Local leaders wanted a better picture on how to accommodate 5,000 workers and their families, many of whom will relocate to the region.

“Some will want to be close to Elizabethtown where there’s more stuff to do. Others will be out in the county looking for a little land," said Hardin County Judge-Executive Keith Taul. "So, where are all of those places going to be? Right now, we don’t have them.”

The economic impact study projected Hardin County will need more than 8,000 new housing units. Taul said one solution is the development of more dense housing such as apartments. He added that Glendale will need infrastructure upgrades for those newcomers wanting to live in the county.

Other challenges include finding room for more than 3,900 new K-12 students, plus 75 new hospital beds and nearly 800 additional healthcare jobs.

Taul said he’s also worried about having adequte emergency services.

“They’re already stretched. We have 12 volunteer fire departments in the county. The cities have their own fire departments that are full-time, but ours are all volunteer," Taul explained. "We also have our ambulance service that we’re going to have to expand also. That’s one I feel a lot of pressure on.”

Taul spoke to WKU Public Radio on Wednesday following a tour of the EV battery campus alongside Gov. Andy Beshear.

The battery park represents the largest economic development project in Kentucky history. By 2026, BlueOval SK will be one of the five largest manufacturing sites in Kentucky based on employment. In terms of square footage, it will be the tenth largest manufacturing site in the world.

"This study underscores how every facet of a community-from population growth to housing demands, employment trends and healthcare needs-can be shaped by large-scale economic developments like BlueOval SK," said consultant Luke Schmidt.

With the influx of new residents, Hardin County is expected to remain the 6th most populous county, while Elizabethtown could surpass Covington as the 5th largest city in Kentucky.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.