Text and Images from The Lane Report.com
When you spend less for gas this summer because your lightweighted car, SUV or truck is more fuel-efficient, or enjoy a canned beverage as your food grills in foil, or use any of many products made of a certain shiny metal, you can thank a quiet industry with a large footprint in the Bluegrass State: aluminum.
It probably will come as a surprise to most that it’s the aluminum industry in its many forms that is driving some of the biggest growth in the state’s economy.
A report from the Aluminum Association ranks Kentucky No. 1 nationally in per capita aluminum jobs, with Indiana and Iowa being a distant second and third, respectively. According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, there are nearly 200 aluminum-related companies in Kentucky.
Since the beginning of 2014, aluminum-related companies have announced about 100 new facility or expansion projects in Kentucky, totaling upwards of $3 billion in corporate investment and creating over 3,050 full-time jobs to bring the industry’s surging employment to more than 20,500. The investment is well above the approximately $1 billion total from 2001 to 2013.
Aluminum, the third most abundant element on the periodic table, may not be as sexy as bourbon and Thoroughbreds, but the industry is booming in Kentucky and shows no signs of slowing.
The sector is broad, consisting of smelters, recyclers, rolling mills, injection molders, extruders, die-casters, machine shops and companies manufacturing a galaxy of finished products, including Reynolds Consumer Products in Louisville.
Aluminum is a widely used, attractive industrial material, and compared to alternatives such as steel and copper, it is lightweight, has a high strength-to-weight ratio and is resistant to corrosion.