What Ky. did right to land $5.8 billion Ford/SK battery deal

Oct 11, 2021

Is this a sign that Kentucky’s economy is ‘hitting on all cylinders?’ Ford Motor Co. and Korea-based SK Innovation announced the single largest economic development project in the history of the commonwealth last month celebrating a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs and places Kentucky at the forefront of the automotive industry’s future. This week on the Business Side we talk with Lane Report executive editor Mark Green who attended the rollout ceremony on the steps of the State Capitol in Frankfort.


In central Kentucky, Ford plans to build a dedicated battery manufacturing complex with SK Innovation – the $5.8 billion BlueOvalSK Battery Park (shown in this rendering) – creating 5,000 jobs.
Credit photo provided

  From the Lane Report:

The company and SK Innovation will build two electric battery plants in the BlueOvalSK Battery Park in Hardin County, investing a record $5.8 billion. With this announcement, Kentucky shatters every annual economic development record in the books for yearly investment totals and is on pace for its best job-creating year in history. Kentucky workers at BlueOvalSK Battery Park will supply Ford’s North American assembly plants with batteries that will power the next generation of Ford and Lincoln electric vehicles. Production of the advance lithium-ion batteries will begin in 2025.

The plants will be built on the 1,551-acre economic development site near Interstate Highway 65 in Glendale and will generate 86 gigawatt hours, which commonwealth officials believe will make Kentucky the nation’s largest producer of electric automotive batteries.

Gov. Andy Beshear, Ford Executive Chair Bill Ford, CEO Jim Farley and Dong-Seob Jee, president of SK Innovation’s battery business, will join Kentucky leaders to unveil more about the historic project at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Kentucky State Capitol. Executive leaders from Ford and SK Innovation, as well as state and local leaders, will attend the announcement.

“We thank Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation for their investment in Team Kentucky,” Beshear said. “This is the single largest investment in the history of our state, and this project solidifies our leadership role in the future of the automotive manufacturing industry. It will transform our economy, creating a better Kentucky with more opportunities for our families for generations. Our economy is on fire – and now, it’s electric. Never again will we be thought of as a flyover state. Our time is now. Our future is now.”

“Ford is very excited to make this historic investment in the great state of Kentucky,” said Lisa Drake, Ford North America chief operating officer. “Kentucky has been an incredible partner to Ford for more than 100 years and is home to Louisville Assembly Plant and Kentucky Truck Plant. With this announcement, Kentucky will play an essential role as Ford fulfills its commitment to lead the electric vehicle revolution and create thousands of jobs in the commonwealth, and we look forward to working with Kentuckians to create the future together.”

The $5.8 billion investment is more than triple the previous largest single investment announced in Kentucky. The 5,000 announced jobs, which is the number of full-time jobs at the plants and does not include construction, supplier or dealership jobs, is more than twice the number of any previous announcement in the commonwealth.

At the Glendale megasite, Kentucky and its partners will shift from the traditional automobile to the electric vehicle of the future. Ford expects at least 40% of its global sales to be electric vehicles by 2030, and the batteries made in Kentucky will help power that transition.

Century-long partnership

The historic announcement builds on the more than century-long partnership between Kentucky and Ford.

Kentucky workers rolled a Model T off a Ford assembly line in Louisville in 1913. The Louisville Assembly Plant and Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville directly employ about 13,000 workers with thousands more working for suppliers and dealerships.

Kentucky workers assemble the Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair at the Louisville Assembly Plant, which opened in 1955, and they assemble Ford Super Duty Trucks, the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator at the Kentucky Truck Plant, which opened in 1969.

From direct employees to suppliers and dealers, Ford helped create jobs for approximately 120,000 people in Kentucky – not including the jobs coming with today’s announcement.

A 2020 Economic Impact Report estimated that the company’s gross domestic product impact in Kentucky was approximately $11.7 billion. Ford has directed more than $6.3 billion in investments and upgrades to Kentucky since 1987.