Hitachi's selection of Harrodsburg for its North American lithium-ion battery production is a vote of confidence in Kentucky's work force and the future of the state's auto industry.
Hitachi, based in Japan and one of the world's leading developers of technology, had announced in August that it will begin manufacturing electric drive motors for hybrid and electric vehicles in Berea.
Together, the two announcements represent $87 million in investment and 190 new jobs.
Early in his administration, Gov. Steve Beshear focused on positioning Kentucky to be a leader in the development and manufacture of advanced batteries.
Auto manufacturing, with its many offshoots, is a mainstay of the state's economy. Only two other states make more vehicles.
But keeping and growing the auto industry will require innovation as consumers demand more efficient vehicles.
Kentucky must support research and innovation, if we want Kentuckians to be manufacturing the vehicles of the future.
Beshear's strategy was smart, despite some early disappointments.
The biggest was Kentucky being shut out of $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funding for developing better batteries and electric cars, which sunk plans for a consortium of companies to manufacture lithium-ion batteries in Hardin County.
The Beshear administration did succeed in establishing the Kentucky-Argonne National Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center in Lexington.
The lab's research capability should be an attraction to auto and related industries now and in the future.