manufacturing

Lisa Autry

General Motors workers in Kentucky and seven other states are transitioning from temporary to permanent employment.  The automaker announced on Wednesday that 1,350 temps will gain full benefits by the end of March.

One of the main sticking points in last fall’s contract negotiations between GM and the UAW was the use of temporary workers.  Those employees typically put in full-time hours, but don’t have many of the same benefits as permanent employees. 


Becca Schimmel

The Ohio Valley’s economy could see slower growth in 2020 amid continued anxiety about trade, and possible downturns in both energy and manufacturing, according to analyses and forecasts by regional economists.

Michael Hicks directs the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University in Indiana where he forecasts the health of the manufacturing sector. Hicks expects manufacturing to slow down, and he blames the tariffs levied under President Donald Trump’s administration. Hicks said the costs imposed by the trade war are playing out in markets across the region and he predicts the Ohio Valley’s economic growth to slow dramatically in 2020.


Jim West/Science Photo Library

The 10-county region of south central Kentucky currently has several thousand open jobs. Business and education leaders are working on multiple fronts to attract and train workers to fill those positions.  

One major reason for the shortage of workers in Kentucky, and across the nation, is the retirement of large numbers of Baby Boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964.

Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ron Bunch said even as the region tries to fill those thousands of current vacancies, the number of open positions is expected to increase dramatically in the future. 

Franklin Favorite

An automotive supplier is leaving Simpson County and eliminating more than 100 jobs. Harman is closing its manufacturing plant that produces amplifiers, speakers and radios for vehicles.

"HARMAN is encountering intense competition and is adapting to the changing dynamics in the automotive industry," the company said in a statement. "While extremely difficult, these actions are necessary and an essential step to ensure the long-term competitiveness of our business."

flickr/Brewbooks

Kentucky is out of the running in the fierce competition for Amazon’s second U.S. headquarters.

Louisville hoped to gain the attention of the Seattle-based company, and the 50,000 jobs that would come with the project. But Louisville is not one of 20 cities on Amazon’s short list released this week.

Creative Commons

Braidy Industries released the names of its shareholders over the weekend. The aluminum company is planning a state-subsidized $1.3 billion facility in Greenup County.

 

The move came after the Courier Journal requested a list of investors and shareholders. That request was partially denied. The list the paper received showed only two previously known owners, with the rest of the names blacked out.

Becca Schimmel

A financial technology company says Kentucky is home to three of the top 25 best places in the

U.S. to work in manufacturing. The list created by the company “Smart Asset” ranks the Elizabethtown-Fort Knox area as the fifth-best place in the country for manufacturing jobs.

Owensboro was ranked 17th, and the Louisville metro area was 19th. The report says a little more than 17 percent of jobs in the Elizabethtown-Fort Knox region fall into the manufacturing category. That area has seen a 7 percent increase in manufacturing job growth over a one-year period.

Toyota

Toyota said Monday it is investing $1.3 billion to retool its sprawling factory in Georgetown, Kentucky, where the company's flagship Camry sedans are built.

No new factory jobs are being added, but Toyota says the upgrades amount to the biggest single investment ever at one of its existing plants in the United States. The retooling also will sustain the existing 8,200 jobs at Toyota's largest plant, where nearly one-fourth of all Toyota vehicles produced in North America are made, the automaker said.

"This major overhaul will enable the plant to stay flexible and competitive, further cementing our presence in Kentucky," said Wil James, president of the plant, which also assembles the Avalon and the Lexus ES 350.

GM

The Bowling Green General Motors plant is temporarily shutting down later this year to make changes to its vehicle production process.

The facility will temporarily lay off employees while the changes are being made.

A spokeswoman for the plant said a decision on the exact dates and length of the shutdown hasn’t been made, but that it would likely cover parts of the summer and fall.

The plant employees about 840 hourly workers, along with 165 salaried individuals. The spokeswoman said some employees will be asked to work through the temporary shutdown, with the plant making those decisions based on the facility’s needs.

Jacob Ryan

Kentucky’s labor secretary is trying to get more employers to offer apprenticeship programs that provide employment and on-the-job training for new workers entering an industry.

There are currently about 1,100 employers that have registered apprenticeship programs in Kentucky, employing about 3,000 people.

Derrick Ramsey, secretary of the Labor Cabinet, said apprenticeship programs will help train Kentucky’s workforce and attract new businesses.

“’If we do not have skilled workers, I don’t think businesses are going to move here,” Ramsey said. “And by the way, in most cases with businesses, they don’t want to come here and then train that worker, they want to have them trained before they come here.”

Apprenticeship programs combine on-the-job training with formal instruction and usually last four years. Employers work with the Labor Cabinet to design the training program and sign a contract with each apprentice — the contract is registered with the state and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Governor Bevin says the University of Louisville is a key component of a National Center to focus on automotive research in areas of automotive efficiency and sustainable transportation. That could cover everything from online transportation services to self-driving cars.

He made that announcement Monday before the second Auto Vision Conference in Lexington.

Bevin says the multi-state project could result in some new automotive technologies. “Some things that are being imagined now will come to fruition. Other things will come to fruition that nobody’s even thought of yet. Other ideas that we’ve thought of frankly are gonna hit dead ends,” said Bevin.

Bevin says U of L is joining five other universities across the country in launching this program funded by the National Science Foundation. The program is called the Industrial University Cooperative Research Center for Efficient Vehicles and Sustainable Transportation Systems.

Flickr/Creative Commons

Mark Muro is having a conversation with someone in a bar. The person’s in their late twenties and is having trouble finding work. Maybe they have a high school diploma. Mark’s advice? Enroll in the closest community college you can.

Fast.

Auto manufacturing and digital services are some of the industries contributing to Kentucky’s economic growth. And you don’t need a Master’s or PhD to get a job in these areas.

“STEM workers are crucial to regional prosperity and advanced industry success but they don’t all need to have to have college degrees,” says Muro, senior fellow and policy director at the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

Muro did a study tracking the growth of advanced industries. Blue-collar STEM jobs fall under these industries, which employ more than 170,000 people in Kentucky. The average salary in an advanced industry is just over $65,000 in the commonwealth. That compares with almost $42,000 for all other industries.

Kentucky Lawmakers Form Bipartisan Automotive Caucus

Feb 3, 2016
Flickr/Creative Commons

Kentucky lawmakers are banding together to promote the state's automotive industry.

Dozens of lawmakers from both political parties on Tuesday started an Automotive Caucus to work with an industry that officials say employs more than 136,500 people in Kentucky.

The Bluegrass State ranks third nationally in car production and second in light truck production.

Caucus members have pledged to work with the automotive industry in coming years on such key issues as workforce training, tax policies and technology development. Auto manufacturers say they're especially interested in developing the next generation of manufacturing workers for their plants.

A Japanese corporation is planning a $15 million expansion at its manufacturing site in Bowling Green.

NHK of America Suspension Components Incorporated (NASCO) is adding a new building next to its existing facility in Warren County. The new location will manufacture automotive suspension coil springs, and is expected to be completed within two years.

NASCO employs 280 people, and its  Japanese parent company owns another operation in Warren County (Topura America Fastener), Franklin (New Mather Materials), and Louisville (NHK Spring Precision of America). In all, NHK International Corporation employs about 1,000 Kentucky workers.

A Bowling Green manufacturer is expanding, adding 30 new jobs.

KapStone Containter Corporation is investing $4.5 million in the project, which will modernize the facility and upgrade equipment. KapStone manufactures paper packaging containers, and employs 112 full-time workers at its Bowling Green facility.

Governor Steve Beshear announced the expansion plans Thursday in Warren County.

Beshear Thursday also announced a $400,000 expansion at a metal stamping manufacturer in Stanford. The Lincoln Manufacturing plant is adding 20 jobs and adding a third shift to its operations in Lincoln County.

Pages