February 7, 2005
If there's one cabinet in state government that resembles a company in the private sector, it's probably Kentucky's Economic Development Cabinet. One of its missions is to sell Kentucky as the best place for companies to relocate, startup or do business. It competes with other states, but it has a great product to sell, from financial incentives and quality of life to a state government that has an aggressive plan to deploy broadband Internet as part of its Prescription for Innovation. Technology companies seem to be taking notice.
Recently, the Economic Development Cabinet has announced a number of technology wins for the commonwealth, including the expansion of biotech firm Immpheron and Belcan's engineering and technology design center, both in Lexington; a major expansion for online shoe retailer Zappos.com in Bullitt County; and the first new client for Western Kentucky University's Center for Research and Development's Small Business Accelerator.
Immpheron, Inc. is a private startup biotechnology corporation based in Lexington. The company plans to move its existing laboratory on Nicholasville Road to a newly constructed research and development center in Coldstream Research Park. The expansion is expected to result in the creation of 15 new jobs for Kentuckians. In 2005 Belcan Engineering Group expects to add up to 40 Belcan employees to their new Engineering Design Center for Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Lexington, and could grow the operation to over 300 engineers by year's end if Sikorsky is successful in winning future U.S. government and international contracts. Belcan will perform targeted engineering detailed design activities in support of projected growth in Sikorsky's domestic and international development program requirements. Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, based in Stratford, Connecticut, is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of advanced helicopters for commercial, industrial and military uses.
In December, Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Gene Strong announced that Electronic Warfare Associates, Inc. (EWA) will locate a new 3,000 square foot engineering and software design center at Western Kentucky University’s Center for Research and Development in Warren County. The center will create 20 new jobs for Kentuckians.
Headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, EWA provides IT products and services to the U.S. Department of Defense, other sectors of the federal government, state and local governments and law enforcement agencies. Further, EWA provides comprehensive analyses, engineering, and management services to the Department of Defense community and federal and civil agencies. The primary focus of the work in Kentucky will be in support of Homeland Security projects and support to the national intelligence community. “We considered several locations in a number of states before deciding to locate in Bowling Green,” said Doug Armstrong, President of EWA. “The favorable business climate, the presence of a well educated and motivated workforce and the overall quality of life for our employees were the deciding factors.”
A few years ago, Zappos.com, calling itself "the web's most popular shoe store", chose Shepherdsville to locate their main distribution center because of its central location. In the fall of 2004 it expanded its warehouse space from 120,000 to 281,000 squarefeet. In December the company announced another expansion, a 786,000 square-foot warehouse to be located just across from its current location. The expansion will create 231 new jobs. The discount retailer is not only popular online, it's becoming a popular place for residents in Louisville to take a short drive south to find a bargain on name brand shoes.
"Competition is fierce among the states for high tech projects. Announcements such as EWA Government Systems, Belcan, Immpheron and Zappos.com send a strong message to the global business community that Kentucky can compete and succeed as we pursue higher quality employment opportunities for all citizens of the Commonwealth," stated Secretary Strong.
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Visit the Cabinet for Economic Development Web site at: http://thinkkentucky.com