Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear recently announced further momentum in the state’s bourbon and spirits industry with the expansion of Casey Jones Distillery in Hopkinsville, a $1.9 million investment that will create 15 full-time jobs for local residents.
“Kentucky’s bourbon and spirits industry is currently in a period of incredible growth and expansion,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are seeing example after example of companies choosing the commonwealth to expand their distilling operations, which is a testament to the resources, workforce and communities that support this industry. I want to thank Casey Jones Distillery for their commitment to Kentucky and wish them nothing but success in the future.”
The nearly $2 million expansion will see the company add a 1,000-gallon distillation, fermentation and mash cooking system to expand production capacity of bourbon and other spirits. Additional support equipment such as a bottling line, distilled water system and alcohol storage also will be installed. The project will include a nearly 3,800-square-foot barrel aging rickhouse that will support the increased barrel storage and aging necessary for the expanded operations.
“With the belief and commitment of our remarkable staff, and the many partners like South Western Kentucky Economic Development Council and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, our dream and our goal of being the premier craft distillery in Western Kentucky is going to come true,” said Arlon “AJ” Jones, master distiller and co-founder of Casey Jones Distillery.
Casey Jones Distillery was founded in 2014 and is an independently owned, micro-craft distillery based in Hopkinsville. The company offers a full bourbon experience that includes tours, tastings and various events throughout the year. In 2019, for the company’s fifth anniversary, the distillery released its first bourbon, starting a new chapter for the company and helping to establish it as a premier producer of highly sought authentic Kentucky spirits.
The bourbon and spirits industry remains one of Kentucky’s most prominent sectors. Today, spirits facilities employ more than 5,300 people throughout the state. Since the start of 2020, Kentucky’s spirits industry has seen roughly 50 new-location or expansion announcements with over $980 million in planned investments and approximately 800 announced full-time jobs. Gov. Beshear also worked with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to remove harmful bourbon tariffs on trade with the United Kingdom and European Union, ensuring continuing strength in the export market.
Christian County Judge/Executive Steve Tribble welcomed the added economic impact the expansion will bring to the community.
“Christian County Fiscal Court is excited to support the continued growth of one of the county’s most successful businesses and tourism attractions,” Judge Tribble said. “With thousands of tourists visiting Casey Jones Distillery per year, the family-owned company is making a huge economic impact on the county and regional economy. I applaud Peg and AJ for their vision and investment and thank Gov. Beshear, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority and the Cabinet for Economic Development for their support of this important, job-creating expansion at Casey Jones Distillery.”
Carter Hendricks, executive director for the South Western Kentucky Economic Development Council, lauded the company for its continued investment and impact in the region.
“Casey Jones Distillery continues to be an exemplar of local, family-owned business demonstrating the entrepreneurial spirit of the Bluegrass State,” Hendricks said. “With Peg and AJ’s leadership and strong support from local, regional and state government, Casey Jones Distillery will continue making a significant economic impact on our region for generations to come. We are thrilled to see their expansion come to life and look forward to supporting their continued success.”
Casey Jones Distillery’s investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.
Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for 2021 recently placed Kentucky atop the South Central region, and third nationally, for qualifying projects per capita.
Gov. Beshear recently announced that on Jan. 28, S&P Global Ratings revised Kentucky’s financial outlook to positive from stable and affirmed its “A-” credit rating. S&P cited a reduced reliance on one-time items to balance the budget and a higher balance in the state’s rainy-day fund as primary factors influencing the change.
That follows a 2021 during which the commonwealth shattered every economic development record in the books. Private-sector new-location and expansion announcements included a record $11.2 billion in total planned investment and commitments to create a record 18,000-plus full-time jobs across the coming years. Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage for projects statewide in 2021 was $24 before benefits, a 9.4% increase over the previous year.
In recent months, the commonwealth has announced the two largest economic development projects in state history. In September, Gov. Beshear and leaders from Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation celebrated a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs in Hardin County. Last week, the Governor was joined by leadership at Envision AESC to announce a $2 billion investment that will create 2,000 jobs in Warren County. These announcements solidify Kentucky as the national leader in EV battery production.
Kentucky also saw an all-time, record-setting budget surplus in fiscal year 2021 and entered 2022 with an estimated $1.9 billion more than budgeted.
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) on Thursday preliminarily approved a 15-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $200,000 in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $1.93 million and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 15 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 15 years; and
- Paying an average hourly wage of $16 including benefits across those jobs.
By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.
In addition, Casey Jones Distillery can receive resources from Kentucky’s workforce service providers. Those include no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job-training incentives.