Politics & Government

Beshear made secret economic development trip to Germany


FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear and Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes made a secret economic development trip last week to Germany.

Beshear press secretary Kerri Richardson confirmed the trip Tuesday. Such out-of-state trips by the governor usually are announced in advance.

Richardson said Beshear and Hayes went to Germany "to meet with businesses about potential investments in the Commonwealth."

She did not identify them.

Asked why the trip was kept secret, Richardson said, "These meetings are preliminary and private because the businesses may be choosing among several locations, including other states."

Beshear went to Germany and France last July. Kentucky has an economic development office in Hamburg.

Beshear announced last month that the German-owned Kemmerich USA will establish a manufacturing operation and its U.S. headquarters in Calloway County.

The project will bring 120 new, full-time jobs and a $12.2 million investment to the state.

In November, Beshear announced that iwis, a German automotive supplier, plans to establish its first U.S. manufacturing operation in Murray. The project is expected to create 75 new, full-time jobs and entail more than $12.5 million in investment in the state.

Beshear said then that he met with officials from iwis (pronounced EE-vis) to discuss the potential project during an economic development trip to Germany during the summer.

Formed in Germany in 1916, iwis, a family-owned company, began with success in the production of bicycle chains and eventually became the iwis Group, a global technology leader in automotive and industrial chains. The company now has more than 1,000 employees at 22 plants worldwide and plans to operate a 119,000-square-foot plant off U.S. 641 North in Murray.

Employees at the plant will manufacture timing-drive systems for engines. The operation is expected to start at the end of this year and will ramp up production in 2014.

Kentucky is home to more than 420 international companies, including more than 180 from Europe. In 2011, nearly 23 percent of all new jobs and more than 30 percent of all capital investment announced in the state was a result of foreign direct investment.