Advanced manufacturing uses innovation and technology to improve the manufacturing process, typically through computer technology, advanced robotics, clean technology, information technology, automation, innovation, precision control, customization, sustainability, waste reduction, and eco-friendly technologies and practices.

There are over 3,600 manufacturers in Kentucky employing around 255,000 Kentuckians full time. Kentucky manufacturers provide jobs and economic prosperity, and product national brands such as Pop-Tarts, Dixie Cups, Jif Peanut Butter, Post-It Notes, Hot Pockets, Kentucky Ale, Tiffany & Co. jewelry, numerous brands of bourbon, and automobiles such as the Toyota Camry, RAV4 Hybrid, and Lexus ES.

In 2011, Mayor Jim Gray of Lexington and Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville launched the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM), an initiative to develop a joint regional business plan to support a leading advanced manufacturing sector with higher average wage jobs. Since then, the cities have partnered with the Brookings Institution to produce Seizing the Manufacturing Movement: An Economic Growth Plan for the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky and the BEAM Trade and Investment Plan.

Lexington’s workforce is one of the strongest regional benefits available to the advanced manufacturing industry. The 2021 Census data ranks Lexington among the most educated cities in the nation with 46% of the population holding at least a bachelor’s degree and 20% with an advanced degree.

The University of Kentucky’s College of Engineering offers undergraduate, graduate, and PhD programs and 11 universities within 200 miles of Lexington offer significant engineering programs, including the University of Kentucky, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Louisville, and the University of Tennessee. These universities provide an excellent workforce skilled in engineering, computer science, civil engineering, mechanical engineering mining engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and chemical and materials engineering, to name only a few.

The Advanced Manufacturing Technician program builds a sustainable workforce through an apprentice-based curriculum that combines learning with hands-on experience in an immersive environment. Operated by KY FAME, a partnership between regional manufacturrs, students in the AMT program learn the knowledge and skills required to be advanced manufacturing technicians, such as electricity, robotics, fluid power, mechanics, fabrication, and industrial troubleshooting, and apoly those concepts while working part-time for manufacturers in the region, such as Toyota and Link-Belt. The new Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC) in Georgetown opened in early 2017. The 78,000 square foot building looks, feels, and operates like a manufacturing facility to enhance students’ learning and skill development. Classes at the AMC support BCTC programs in industrial maintenance, electronics, PLCs, industrial electricity, robotics, mechanical drives, fluid power, machining, and welding. The AMC also offers traditional general education courses for Georgetown, Scott County, and surrounding communities.

Click here to read Commerce Lexington’s Advanced Manufacturing White Paper.

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Company Services Number of Employees
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Auto Manufacturing 9,712
Lockheed Martin Contractor Support 1,500
Hitachi Automotive Systems Automotive Systems 1,100
Link-Belt Construction Equipment 525
Webasto Roof Systems Automotive Parts 619
Big Ass Fans Industrial Ceiling Fans, Lights 547
Schneider Electric Energy Machinery 598
Georgia Pacific Paper Products 360
Jif – J.M. Smucker Co. Peanut Butter 280
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. Drink Bottler 219
Ceradyne, a 3M Company Ceramic Energy Parts 230
Neogen Corp Food Safety Products 225
Tiffany & Co. Jewelry 160

Source: Commerce Lexington, 2022