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Eastern Light Distilling Establishes Rowan County, Kentucky, Operations

Eastern Light Distilling, an Eastern Kentucky-based distilling company, plans to establish operations in Rowan County, Kentucky. The $143.7 million project is expected to create 50 jobs.

The locally owned venture, led by bourbon industry veterans, including Chief Executive Officer Cordell Lawrence and Caleb Kilburn, an internationally recognized master distiller, will be a "custom contract distiller" for craft bourbon brands and produce up to 90,000 barrels per year.

“Eastern Light is the culmination of a lifelong dream to see our state’s signature bourbon industry in my home of Eastern Kentucky,” said Caleb Kilburn, Master Distiller at Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company.

To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved a 15-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $1.9 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $143.7 million and annual targets of: creation and maintenance of 50 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 15 years; and paying an average hourly wage of $33.17 including benefits across those jobs.

Additionally, KEDFA approved Eastern Light Distilling for up to $100,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act. This act allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.

“Our signature bourbon industry is making its way into Eastern Kentucky with an exciting new company, Eastern Light Distilling,” noted Governor Andy Beshear. “This new distilling operation will not only help foster growth in our craft bourbon industry but will also bring more than $143 million in new economic development investment, well-paying jobs and another great reason for tourists to visit the region. This is the kind of homegrown company that makes Kentucky and our signature bourbon industry so special.”

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, Eastern Light 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.

“This is truly a special day for Morehead and Rowan County by having the commonwealth’s signature industry and Eastern Light Distilling become a part of our community,” added Morehead-Rowan County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development President and CEO Jason Slone. “Our community has always been known as the hardwoods manufacturing capital of the world, including the manufacturing of staves and barrels for the industry, and today’s announcement with Eastern Light Distilling is bringing that longstanding vision full circle as the state’s signature industry heads east. This investment in our community is a direct result of investments made possible through the Kentucky Product Development Initiative program to generate immediate economic development opportunities that allow us to compete and grow our manufacturing and tourism sectors into the future, ensuring high-wage jobs for future generations.”

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