Category Archives: Frankfort Focus

FRANKFORT – Each October, the Cabinet for Economic Development highlights an industry that can be summed up in three words: Made in Kentucky.

It’s a phrase that can be applied to more and more products every year.  The Cabinet says there are now 4,500 manufacturing facilities across the commonwealth, and they employ 256,000 people.  That’s about 13 percent of our total workforce.

The biggest piece of that pie is the automotive sector, which includes our four assembly plants in Louisville, Bowling Green and Georgetown and 515 other factories that provide the parts those and other assembly plants need.

We manufacture well over one million cars and trucks annually, which outpaces every state but Michigan and Ohio.  It’s worth noting that Kentucky’s ties to the industry also date back more than a century.  Louisville began making Model Ts in 1913, just five years after Henry Ford put the first ones on the road.

As prominent as that industry is, it ranks a distant second among our exports to other countries.  Aerospace products account for almost $11 billion of the total $30 billion Kentucky now ships annually outside of this country, which is double the $5.5 billion worth of vehicles that are sold.

All told, customers in almost 200 countries buy products made here.  There are numerous reasons why we have such a wide reach, but a key factor is that we have not one but two of the country’s top 12 airports for cargo.

Louisville’s UPS hub is the biggest and can handle more than 400,000 packages an hour.  DHL, meanwhile, has significantly increased its presence at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, investing nearly $300 million in its air hub since 2009.  Amazon is moving forward with a $1.5 billion hub at that airport as well.

Another element of Kentucky’s manufacturing success is that we’re remarkably diverse.  Bourbon, of course, is a signature product, and there are more than eight million barrels now aging in warehouses, or about two for every one of our citizens.

There are also many well-known products that most people have no idea come from Kentucky.

f you see a disco ball anywhere in the United States, for example, there’s a nine-in-10 chance it was made in Louisville.  A Hopkinsville plant rolls out most of the bowling balls used worldwide, and Lexington is home to the world’s largest peanut butter plant.

Speaking of food, we also manufacture Uncrustables sandwiches (Scottsville), Airheads candy (Erlanger), Hot Pockets (Mt. Sterling), Ragu spaghetti sauce (Owensboro) and Pop Tarts (Pikeville).  Any leftovers can be kept fresh using Reynolds Wrap, which debuted in Louisville 99 years ago.

There are several other products where Kentucky dominates.  Most of the decks of playing cards we shuffle come from Northern Kentucky; Louisville Slugger has been making most of Major League Baseball’s bats for more than a century; Cynthiana has long been home to most of the Post-It notes we use to jot down lists and reminders; and Southcentral Kentucky is where the houseboat industry first set sail more than 60 years ago.

Although not tied directly to manufacturing, Kentucky earned another unique distinction earlier this spring when Louisville hosted what Guinness World Records says was the largest robot competition ever held.  It drew more than 30,000 students from teams based in China, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

That competition underscores the increasingly important role that STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – play in today’s economy and the need to have more students excelling in them.  Those young men and women are the ones we will count on to make sure Kentucky remains a leader in manufacturing and other cutting-edge industries, and it’s an area where we cannot afford to fall behind.

If you have any thoughts on this or other issues affecting the state, let me know.  My email is, and the toll-free legislative message line – which is staffed during normal business hours – is 800-372-7181. For those with a hearing impairment, the number is 800-896-0305.


FRANKFORT – With fall finally feeling like it has arrived, farmers across the country are in full swing as they wind down another growing season.  Although we are surrounded by farmland, we may sometimes forget that, as a profession, farmers are an elite group. In 1880, two-thirds of Kentucky’s workforce could be found on a farm, and… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT –   For much of our country’s history, domestic violence was an often hidden crime, with victims hesitant to report abuse and government ill-equipped to provide the services and protection they deserved. Things thankfully began to change for the better in the late 1960s, and here in Kentucky, we took a major step forward in 1971, when our first… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – When the FBI released its latest annual report last week on crime in our country, Kentucky once again got great news when the numbers showed that all but a handful of states were more violent in 2017. When compared to most of our surrounding and fellow southern states, the figures aren’t even close.  Our… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – Last week, the National Conference of State Legislatures kicked off its annual “America’s Legislators Back to School Program,” which began as a one-day event nearly 20 years ago but now runs for most of the academic year. The program has legislators from across the country visiting the classroom and giving students more insight into… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – In one way, it’s fair to say that some of the first farmers on this side of the world were Kentuckians. Archaeologists believe that the Red River Gorge in the eastern part of the commonwealth was one of the early places in North and South America where modern agricultural practices literally took root.  Like our… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – This week, our nation is pausing to reflect on a tragedy that is known primarily by its date. If you are old enough to remember Sept. 11, 2001, you will never forget where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the news.  It had the same impact as several other… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – Other states may have their festivals, but few if any can compete with Kentucky when it comes to the sheer number and themes we have. If it’s a local product that you can eat, listen to, burn or ride, there is a good chance a community somewhere in the commonwealth has dedicated at least… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – There are several holidays each year that are distinctly American – from Memorial Day and the Fourth of July to Thanksgiving – but only one celebrates the hard work that made us who we are: Labor Day. It is often seen as the unofficial end to the summer, but it’s important to look beyond… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – It has been a little more than two decades since the General Assembly passed far-reaching reforms of our public postsecondary schools, and without a doubt one of the most successful elements of that work was the creation of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Because the University of Kentucky oversaw most of… Continue Reading

Paid for by Rick Rand for State Representative, Regina Rand, Treasurer