In Kentucky, we are used to the stereotype. Whenever we travel anywhere outside the state, we are recognized for the same three things; bourbon, horses, and KFC. Now don’t get me wrong, I am proud of these illustrious pieces of Kentucky lore and history. But as many of my fellow Kentuckians can attest, there is much more to our commonwealth. In fact, we are on the cusp of adding another major success to our list.
That industry is aerospace.
Have I lost anyone yet?
Nearly every time I meet with individuals across the nation, I get surprised looks when I describe the incredible things being done in Kentucky aerospace. In 2016, Kentucky had $10.85 billion in aerospace exports, making it Kentucky’s No. 1 export, and No. 2 in the entire U.S., behind only Washington.
However, it wasn’t until 2015, that Kentucky finally recognized aerospace when export data was released to show the state had $8.7 billion in aerospace exports. At that time, the state legislature passed House Joint Resolution 100 through the incredible support of Rep. Rocky Adkins.
It mandated that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the Cabinet for Economic Development, and the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs study the who, what, and why of the aerospace industry. While this study will not be completed until September of 2017, we have learned many compelling things about this thriving industry. Primarily, we have already discovered that these industries consist of more than 600 companies in Kentucky and employ 17,500 people.
Why Kentucky? Why not?
We have two major shipping airport hubs that can ship any product anywhere in the world, while most states have none. We are a day’s drive from 65 percent of the U.S. population and have numerous interstates and rail that allow the transport of tons of product and