Japan-based congratulated automotive parts manufacturer Kobelco Aluminum Products & Extrusions reached full capacity at its new facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The company will undergo a $42 million, 90-job expansion that will push total employment at the to 220 and total investment to $95 million.
Kobe Steel, Kobelco’s corporate parent, initially announced the Warren County plant in mid-2016 and built it near an existing sister plant, Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products LLC (KAAP) on Central Avenue in the South Central Kentucky Industrial Park.
Kobelco started operations on its fabrication manufacturing line in the fall of 2017, followed by the start-up of its melting and casting process and extrusion press in the latter half of 2018. The plant manufactures aluminium bumper and sub-frame materials.
KAAP, the sister facility in Bowling Green, opened in 2005 and produces forged suspension components for cars and SUVs while employing approximately 500 people. In spring 2017 KAAP announced a $53 million expansion, the facility’s seventh, adding about 100 jobs.
According to state officials demand for aluminium parts continues to increase among automakers as they seek to lighten their vehicles to meet tightening federal fuel economy and emissions standards. To capture growing demand, Kobelco announced the expansion in December 2018, which includes a new melting furnace, extrusion press and fabrication equipment.
“We’re growing our business and enhancing our presence as a manufacturer of aluminum extruded parts for cars,” said Yukimasa Miyashita, Senior Managing Executive Officer and head of the aluminum and copper business of Kobe Steel. “In this way, we continue to meet the need for lighter cars that meet fuel efficiency regulations, and continue to contribute to the growth of the local economy.”
“Kobelco has been a strong employer in Bowling Green for a number of years,” Governor Matt Bevin said. “This new facility and its ongoing expansion are further evidence that their partnership with Kentucky continues to be a great fit, and we look forward to even more growth in the future. Congratulations to both the company and the Warren County community on this significant step forward in support of the commonwealth’s thriving automotive industry.”
Founded in 1905 and headquartered in Kobe and Tokyo, Kobe Steel operates worldwide under the KOBELCO brand. The company added the aluminum and copper business to its lineup of businesses in 1917. With numerous corporate subsidiaries, Kobe now offers a diverse range of products and services including steel, welding materials, industrial machinery, infrastructure and plant engineering services, construction equipment and electric power supply. Kobe employs over 39,000 people at more than 100 locations around the world.
Ron Bunch, President & CEO of the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, said the company has delivered on what it promised and more. “It’s always exciting when a first-class company like Kobelco surpasses their initial investment and job creation here in Bowling Green,” Bunch said. “The impact an additional 90 full-time jobs will have on Warren County will improve the quality of life for many in our community.”
Kobelco currently has two performance-based incentive agreements from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority, which are designed to encourage investment and job growth for the state.
In addition, Kobelco can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives.