Officials with the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement or BEAM are looking to increase Kentucky exports. They’ll use a 200 thousand dollar contribution from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation. Eligible small businesses in a 22 county region can secure up to 45 hundred dollars to help gain more product exposure.
Haley Stevens is Program Director of Export Initiatives for BEAM. Stevens says some Kentucky products are still not well known.
“Kentucky is known for our specialties. We’re known for our equine. We’re known for our bourbon, but we also sell lots of other things here like dishwashers, disco balls, mattresses, large ceiling fans and there’s an opportunity to become known as what Mayor Gray was saying as a manufacturing hub, as an advanced manufacturing hub of the world,” said Stevens.
Stevens says automotive related exports also rank high, but there is room for improvement in other areas.
“Machinery, chemicals, and food and beverage, this is smaller food and beverage companies, we could do better. And it’s not that they are necessarily under exporting, but we recognized that they could potentially be selling to new markets,” added Stevens.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray believes ‘re-shoring’ can result in job benefits to Kentucky. Re-shoring is the term given to a return of certain manufacturing jobs to America. Gray says it’s partly attributed to changes in labor costs.
“The cost of production, labor costs, that gap between foreign production, foreign manufacturing and domestic U.S. manufacturing, that gap in labor costs is closing,” said Gray.
Gray says job growth usually comes through expansion of existing firms.