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Northern Ireland-based Smiley Monroe Eyes Manufacturing Plant in Franklin, Kentucky

10/04/2019
Ireland-based conveyor belt producer Smiley Monroe plans to create roughly 30 full-time jobs at a new manufacturing facility in Franklin, Kentucky. The company will invest $2 million in its first North American operation.

The company will lease a 63,000-square-foot building in Franklin to house the operation, where company leaders expect to begin production by January 2020. Following a significant increase in US sales the past several years, the company’s Kentucky operation in Simpson County will give it a location and distribution advantage for its growing customer base.

“With the political uncertainty both in the UK and beyond, protecting our export sales is paramount to growing the business and safe-guarding jobs in Northern Ireland,” said Chris Monroe, the group’s global sales director. “Having a base in the US will shorten lead times for customers and help us be more competitive in the tough US market. Removing barriers to trade will fast track our ambitious growth plans to increase turnover by 50% over the next three years.”

According to state officials, Kentucky’s central location, along with its skilled manufacturing workforce, made it a suitable destination for the company’s first American factory. Over the next five years, Smiley Monroe plans to recruit a core team of production operators and support staff to fill its 30-job target. At least 27 of those positions are allocated for Kentucky residents.

To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in August preliminarily approved a five-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $140,000 in tax incentives based on the company’s eligible project costs of $1.3 million and annual targets of: Creation and maintenance of 27 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across five years, and Paying an average hourly wage of $17 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.

“Kentucky’s unprecedented economic progress has thrust our state into the global spotlight, and Smiley Monroe’s decision to base its first US facility here is a testament to the commonwealth’s strides in international business development,” Governor Matt Bevin said. “Additionally, Kentucky’s available, skilled workforce is a tremendous asset for companies locating in the Bluegrass State. We are grateful for the opportunities Smiley Monroe will create for Kentuckians, and we look forward to watching the company grow in the years ahead.”

“Kentucky continues forging an identity as a premier location for businesses from across the globe to expand their operations,” added Vivek Sarin, Interim Secretary of the Cabinet for Economic Development. “Smiley Monroe made a fantastic decision to house its first US operation in the commonwealth, one that validates our cabinet’s increased emphasis on foreign direct investment and will add to the 110,000-plus people employed at internationally owned facilities operating throughout our state.”

Gary Broady, Chairman of the Franklin-Simpson Industrial Authority, said, “We are very pleased that Smiley Monroe will be taking one of our existing buildings in Franklin to start their first manufacturing facility in North America,” Broady said. “This is the first United Kingdom-based company to locate in our community, and we are very pleased to have them in Franklin.”

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