Company to expand existing cooperage, add barrel warehousing in London
Gov. Andy Beshear announced Wednesday the largest distilled spirits-related investment on record in Kentucky, as Louisville-based Sazerac Co. will invest $600 million to construct nearly 20 barrel warehouses and expand Robinson Stave and Cumberland Cooperage in London, creating up to 50 full-time jobs and supporting the company’s continued growth.
“This is a significant investment in Kentucky by Sazerac as our signature bourbon industry continues to grow at an incredible rate,” Gov. Beshear said. “I am so glad to see this job creation in Southeastern Kentucky, as well as the growth of a company that has invested so much in the commonwealth over the past 25 years. Thank you to the leaders at Sazerac for further deepening their roots in the Bluegrass State.”
The Sazerac Co. is acquiring the 198-acre Rowland Acres Industrial Park from the London-Laurel County Economic Development Authority to construct nearly 20 new barrel storage warehouses in Laurel County, which will create up to 50 full-time jobs for Kentucky residents. The project also includes a 72,000-square-foot expansion of Robinson Stave and Cumberland Cooperage, which Sazerac acquired in 2014, to increase production capacity for barrels used to store the company’s aging whiskies.
Work on the project is expected to begin in the coming weeks, with the first seven barrel warehouses expected to be completed in the spring of 2025.
To date, Sazerac’s investment in Kentucky has included approximately $1.2 billion invested at Buffalo Trace Distillery, the company’s primary distillery, located in Frankfort. The company’s Kentucky presence also includes Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, The Glenmore Distillery in Owensboro and its headquarters in Jefferson County.
“We are delighted to expand further in Laurel County and appreciate the warm welcome given to us by the local government and the economic development authority,” Mark Brown, Sazerac president and CEO, said. “We’ve invested in London-Laurel County because we know the residents are hardworking Kentuckians who take pride in their craft. Our construction of new barrel storage warehouses and expansion of our barrel cooperage operations will allow for the continued growth of Kentucky’s signature bourbon industry.”
Sazerac is an American, family-owned, leading producer and marketer of distilled spirits headquartered in Louisville. Founded in 1850, Sazerac maintains eight major facilities in the United States and currently employs around 4,700 people across all U.S. operations.
The commonwealth’s bourbon sector is a nearly $9 billion signature industry in Kentucky, generating more than 22,500 jobs with an annual payroll exceeding $1.23 billion. Since the start of the Beshear administration, more than 60 spirits-related announcements have generated over $1.4 billion in new investment, creating more than 1,100 full-time jobs for Kentuckians.
Laurel County Judge/Executive David Westerfield noted the long-term impact the project will have in the region.
“This multimillion-dollar expansion is monumental for Laurel County,” Judge Westerfield said. “Sazerac’s Cumberland Cooperage in East Bernstadt offers some of the best jobs in our county and we are thrilled they are expanding their presence in our community.”
London Mayor Troy Rudder highlighted the importance of existing business growth.
“It’s always exciting when one of our existing businesses expands and invests further in our community,” Mayor Rudder said. “Sazerac’s Cumberland Cooperage offers some of the best paying jobs and benefits in the area and we are fortunate to have them continue to grow here.”
Paula Thompson, executive director of the London-Laurel County Economic Development Authority,welcomed the company’s significant commitment in the community.
“What an exciting time for London,” Thompson said. “Sazerac already provides quality jobs with great benefits, and we are happy they chose Laurel County for their operation expansion and this record-breaking investment in our community.”
Carol Wright, president and CEO of Jackson Energy Cooperative, is ready to work more closely with company leaders as Sazerac grows its presence in Laurel County.
“Jackson Energy looks forward to supporting and serving the needs of Sazerac-Buffalo Trace in Rowland Acres Industrial Park,” Wright said. “As a local business partner with the London-Laurel County Economic Development Authority, Jackson Energy recognizes the potential economic growth and job opportunities this industry will bring to our region.”
Sazerac’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.
In 2021, 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.
The economic momentum has carried strongly into 2022, with nearly $7.5 billion invested and more than 13,000 full-time jobs created just through September.
Since taking office, Gov. Beshear’s administration has welcomed $21 billion in investments that are creating 40,000 jobs, including the two largest economic development projects in state history. In September 2021, 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. And in April of this year, 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 EV battery production capital of the United States.
Kentucky’s success has been noted by both S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings, which have upgraded the state’s financial outlook to positive in recognition of the commonwealth’s surging economy. In addition, Site Selection magazine placed Kentucky at 6th in its annual Prosperity Cup rankings for 2022, which recognizes state-level economic success based on capital investments.
Kentucky has posted record low unemployment rates for five consecutive months, holding at or below 3.9% since April 2022.
In July, the Governor reported the highest annual growth rate in 31 years. And for the second year in a row, Kentucky’s General Fund budget surplus has exceeded $1 billion. Also in July, Gov. Beshear reported that the state’s Rainy Day fund is up to a record balance of $2.7 billion, significantly higher than the $129 million balance the fund had when the Governor took office.
Kentucky reported August 2022 General Fund receipts hit an unprecedented high for any August on record, marking 21 straight months of growing revenues for the state.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed Kentucky led the entire nation in job growth for the month of August and tied with New Hampshire for the largest jump in employment growth for September.
In September, Kentucky reported August 2022 General Fund receipts hit an unprecedented high for any August on record, marking 21 straight months of growing revenues for the state. September was also the third highest revenue month on record with more than $1.4 billion reported, marking the seventh month this year with collections topping $1 billion.
And from September 2021 to September 2022, Kentucky added 81,700 new jobs. Except for a four-month recovery period after the initial COVID-19 shock, this is the largest number of new jobs added in 20 years.
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in October preliminarily approved a 15-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $2 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 50 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 15 years; and
- Paying an average hourly wage of $28.27, including benefits across those jobs.
Additionally, KEDFA approved the company for up to $1 million in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
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, Sazerac 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.
For more information on Sazerac Company, visit Sazerac.com.
Press Release by the Office of Governor Andy Beshear