Ford’s local economic impact to be determined | Local News


With the announcement Tuesday that Ford is building twin manufacturing plants on the Glendale megasite, state and industry officials are touting the economic impact for the state.

It remains to be seen how this economic impact will play out in Hardin County, University of Kentucky associate professor Mike Clark said.

“I think it’s too early to know any numbers or anything of that nature other than what has been stated in the announcements,” said Clark, director of the university’s Center for Business and Economic Research.

The factories are part of Ford’s push for its new generation of electric vehicles. The company has partnered with SK Innovations, a South Korean manufacturer, to produce batteries for electric vehicles.

Much of the impact on the local economy depends on how Americans embrace electric vehicles, Clark said.

“So we don’t know what it’s going to look like in the long run,” he said. “If electric vehicles really take off and that will be a big part of the automotive market, then there is a possibility that these factories will get bigger than they indicated in the announcement.

“At the same time, if we don’t see the shift to electric vehicles, they might not grow beyond that,” he said. “So it’s very difficult to say what the long-term impacts will be. “

According to Ford, 5,000 workers will be needed for the factories when they become fully operational in 2024 and 2025. These workers will come from the Lincoln Trail area, particularly Hardin County and Elizabethown, but more are expected to migrate to the region for greater salaried work, Clark said.

“We can see a lot of workers coming from other regions,” he said. “It could be other parts of Kentucky or other parts of neighboring states. People will be moving for the jobs that will be associated with this plant.

With this migration, Hardin County can expect population growth in the coming years and a need for more housing, Clark said.

“As these people and families begin to settle in the area, they go looking for homes, they go looking for schools and they go looking for other types of goods and services that will be provided by local business owners. “, did he declare.

Due to the need for housing, Clark said property values ​​will be affected as well, although this is not immediate.

“As we start to see this migration of workers happening and maybe new businesses associated with it, we will likely see more demand for homes and properties which will tend to drive up prices,” he said. declared. “We can expect property values ​​to increase over time. It’s hard to say how many and hard to say when it will happen.

Part of the announcement included an economic development program for state legislators to provide worker training programs through the Elizabehtown Community and Technical College and an on-site training center for a fee of $ 50 million.

Clark said any investment in workforce education is good for the economy as a whole.

“Investing in skills is a good thing because these are skills that workers develop, it helps them earn higher wages,” he said. “To the extent that these are skills that are transferred to other jobs, it makes workers more mobile. It is something that they can maintain throughout their career. Investing in the skills of the workforce is an important part of this project.

While it’s still too early to say specifically how manufacturing plants will affect the local economy, Clark said that doesn’t detract from the magnitude of the announcement, seen as the biggest economic development in the world. state history.

“It’s a pretty big project in terms of size,” he said. “If you look at what happened in Georgetown, in 1992 they employed about 4,300 workers. This project, in terms of the number of workers who are expected to be employed when the plant becomes operational, is larger than what Toyota was in its early years. It is therefore a very important project in terms of scope.

Gina Clear can be contacted at 270-505-1418 or [email protected]

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