FRANKFORT — After a quick trip to India, Gov. Steve Beshear said Wednesday he has signed a deal with a New Delhi company that will build a $150 million factory in Elizabethtown that could employ up to 250 people within three years.
Beshear said Uflex Ltd., which manufactures flexible packaging materials, will receive state tax incentives, which the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority tentatively approved Wednesday morning.
Plans are to build the plant in two phases; the first phase could be operating by late next year, creating 125 jobs that pay roughly $16 an hour, according to the plan submitted to the state.
"It's obviously important in and of itself because it will have a great economic impact on Kentucky, but the additional importance of this is the fact that locating a company like this in Kentucky, we think, will open up the gates for more Indian companies to locate in Kentucky," Beshear told reporters Wednesday morning.
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Beshear and Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes flew to India on Saturday, and were on the ground there for a day and half before the return flight that arrived in Kentucky on Tuesday.
It was the governor's second trip to India. He led a delegation to India last fall, visiting New Delhi and Mumbai at the invitation of NASSCOM, a non-profit organization that facilitates business and trade in software and services.
India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and is a leading trade and economic partner for the United States. Kentucky's exports to India have grown more than 252 percent, to $96.5 million, since 2004.
Beshear said Uflex has been "very impressed" with Kentucky.
"They're going to be great salesmen for us with other Indian companies that are looking to do business in the United States," he said.
Uflex announced last month it was planning to build a facility in the United States, adding to locations in India, Egypt, Dubai, Poland and Mexico.
With Kentucky's unemployment rate at about 10 percent, Beshear has been pressing to recruit new industries and to help existing companies to expand, usually with tax incentives.
Beshear held a news conference Wednesday afternoon in Elizabethtown with Uflex representatives to discuss the proposed plant and the incentive package valued at up to $20 million during the next decade.
"They're all performance-based incentives," he said. "They only get tax incentives as they perform, as they make their investment, and as they create the jobs."
Uflex expects to have the first phase of the project operational by the end of 2012. The second phase would begin shortly thereafter.
"We are very upbeat about our U.S. manufacturing venture and look forward to a lifelong and rewarding relationship with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, whom we decided to partner with after a detailed evaluation of several potential sites in the U.S.A., as they eminently fulfilled all our criteria," Uflex chairman Ashok Chaturvedi said in a statement.