Glasgow, KY's Economy

By Laura Hill on May 1, 2012 at 10:00 am EST
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PHOTO CREDIT: Antony Boshier

The slowly recovering national economy has made for challenging times in Glasgow/Barren County, but thanks to determined economic development efforts the future of the local economic scene is brightening.

While the past several years brought layoffs and a few losses, new industries are locating in the area while existing businesses are expanding and deepening their commitment to the local community.

“We have been slowly coming back and we haven’t lost any of our major industries,” says Dan Iacconi, executive director of the Glasgow/Barren County Industrial Development Economic Authority (IDEA). “We have a lot of work to do, but we’re feeling very positive.”

Good Economic News in 2011

The area welcomed major successes in 2011, Iacconi says. In October, Fortis Manufacturing, a subsidiary of Canada-based Betatech Inc. that provides metal products to the automotive industry, announced plans for its first American manufacturing facility in Glasgow. The 80,000-square-foot plant in the Highland Glen Industrial Park, scheduled to open in early 2012, is a $5 million investment that will bring 100 new jobs to the community.

Akebono Brake Corporation planned a $20.6 million, 66,000-square-foot expansion of its manufacturing plant, adding 200-plus new jobs. Sitel, a call center that services Best Buy, planned to double its workforce to more than 600 in 2011. AtCorr Packaging Products opened in Glasgow in 2011, bringing 10 new jobs. And Med-Care Pharmacy, a pharmaceuticals provider to nursing homes in Kentucky and Tennessee, moved its 100 employees to a new, expanded facility.

“The location is very convenient for us, in the medical community near the new loop road and T.J. Samson Hospital, which is growing,” says Med-Care human resources manager Cindy Garrett. “We’re pleased with where we are. Barren County has very good prospects.”

Balancing Barren's Existing and New Businesses

The key to growing the local economic base lies in serving the needs of existing businesses while attracting new businesses, Iacconi says. 

“It’s critical to strike the right balance between the two,” he says. “Existing industry is the backbone of our local economy.”

What keeps existing businesses and newcomers alike happy is a healthy combination of improved infrastructure, outstanding location and transportation, a well-trained, industrious workforce, education and the community’s outstanding health care including a community-owned hospital.

“We are centrally located within a day’s drive of half the nation’s population,” Iacconi says. “We have put in the Veterans Outer Loop, which will complete a large, four-lane corridor that encircles our entire area. We have cutting-edge industrial parks with 5- to 150-acre lots available, and warehousing facilities from 5,000 to 343,000 square feet.

“We have a low cost of electricity, water and sewer, a cost of living 30 percent lower than the national average, and low-cost broadband available throughout the community.”

Education and Innovation

Education is a critical part of the economic picture, Iacconi says, laying the groundwork for the technically trained workforce the economic future demands. IDEA works closely with the Glasgow Regional Center, home to Western Kentucky University's Glasgow Campus and the Glasgow Technology Campus to anticipate and meet the needs of area businesses.

It also actively seeks to diversify the local economic picture with an eye toward agriculture-related businesses, biomass and renewable energy, pharmaceuticals, and other high-tech industries.

“Innovation and creativity are what the world is about these days,” Iacconi says. “You must be able to out-innovate your competition.”

Learn more about job creation in Glasgow, KY.

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