Aluminum continues to add fuel to the southcentral Kentucky economy.
Colorado-based Ball Corp., ranked among the world’s largest manufacturers of recyclable metal beverage and food containers, announced plans Thursday to build a 450,000-square-foot plant on a 40-acre site in the Kentucky Transpark, where it will eventually employ about 200 people making tops for aluminum cans.
Ball’s announcement comes less than a year after Crown Holdings Inc. announced plans to build a 327,000-square-foot, $147 million aluminum can manufacturing plant in the Transpark.
Other aluminum-related companies such as Logan Aluminum, Constellium and Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products have in recent years made large investments in the region.
Founded in 1880 and best known as the company that once produced glass jars and lids used for home canning, Ball was approved by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority for tax incentives totaling $7.3 million over 10 years.
KEDFA documents said Ball subsidiary Ball Metal Beverage Container Corp. is investing $305 million to build the plant and equip it.
In a news release, Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ron Bunch called Ball’s investment the largest project the region has seen since 2004. Ball will also be the first tenant in the recently acquired 300-acre expansion of the industrial park.
“This project will have an enormous economic impact,” Bunch said. “We are grateful to Ball not only for investing in our economy after several months of site considerations in multiple states, but also for bringing great jobs and future opportunities to our community.”
Scott McCarty, director of strategic communications for Ball, said in an email that the company plans to start site preparation right away. The plant is expected to start production in early 2022.
A news release said Ball will ramp up to nearly 200 jobs over the next five years. Positions will include production technicians, industrial electricians, machinists, material handlers and leadership and support staff roles.
Colin Gillis, Ball’s president of beverage packaging for North and Central America, said the Bowling Green plant will join the company’s network of more than 20 North American plants, including two new beverage can manufacturing plants now being built in Arizona and Pennsylvania and scheduled to start up later this year.
“These investments ... are supported by numerous long-term customer contracts to serve the unprecedented demand for sustainable aluminum packaging,” Gillis said in a news release.
Ball, which spun off its home canning business in 1993, is riding a wave of growth in aluminum manufacturing as demand for the lightweight metal increases.
The Allied Market Research firm said the global aluminum market was valued at $147.2 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $189.8 billion by 2026.
Ball produced and shipped about 48 billion recyclable aluminum beverage containers across North America in 2019, accounting for nearly 42% of all aluminum beverage containers produced on the continent.
Ball Corp. and its subsidiaries employ more than 18,300 people worldwide and reported 2019 net sales of $11.5 billion.
– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.