Business

State grants to 3 Harrodsburg companies require nearly 300 new jobs

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority on Thursday approved three $500,000 economic development bond grants to Harrodsburg to aid a trio of companies expanding there.

The companies — Corning, Hitachi Automotive Systems America and Wausau Paper — will be required to hire nearly 300 new workers overall as part of their expansions to receive the grants. All three have also been granted other tax incentives in recent months.

Corning is considering a $186.6 million expansion that would increase production capacity by 30 percent. The plant's products include Gorilla Glass, a highly scratch-resistant glass used in items such as cell phones. Corning will be required to create 80 full-time jobs paying average hourly wages of $25, including benefits, within three years. The company must also retain its existing 323-person work force.

In July 2010, the company was given preliminary approval for $5.5 million in tax incentives for the expansion. In November, the KEDFA board also approved a $250,000 forgivable loan to Corning for plans to convert a glass-production tank into a manufacturing tool.

Hitachi's expansion would see an additional 153,000 square feet of manufacturing space built on to its 393,000-square-foot facility in Harrodsburg. The $49.1 million expansion would allow for the manufacture of a new high-pressure fuel-pump product, as well as other electronic devices for vehicles.

Hitachi will be required to create 135 full-time jobs paying average hourly wages of $12.51, excluding benefits, within three years. The company must also retain its existing 626-person work force. The company was given preliminary approval in April for $239,000 in tax incentives for the project. The company also received preliminary approval of tax incentives of $2.88 million in October 2009, though that original project proposal has expanded. That led to the new incentives, said Cabinet for Economic Development spokeswoman Mandy Lambert.

At Wausau Paper, executives plan to add 187,200 square feet of manufacturing space to the current 850,000-square-foot facility. The $196.5 million expansion would add equipment capable of producing 76,000 tons of paper towels and tissues annually.

Wausau will be required to create 76 full-time jobs paying average annual wages of $46,000, excluding benefits, within three years. The company must also retain its existing 397-person work force. The company was given preliminary approval in April for $7.1 million in tax incentives for the project.

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