Even as its real-estate footprint grows, the Kentucky Transpark industrial park continues to fill that acreage with new occupants.
The latest, Muskegon, Mich.-based Harbor Steel & Supply Corp., announced Thursday its plans to build a 50,000-square-foot plant in the Transpark that will eventually employ 25 people.
At the plant near the existing Bilstein Cold Rolled Steel factory, Harbor will take bulk metal, add value to it and sell the finished product to automotive and trailer manufacturers and fabricators.
It will be the seventh location for the 60-year-old company and its second in Kentucky, adding to a Lexington facility that opened in 1991 and has 60 employees.
“We’ve been in Kentucky for a lot of years now, and we’ve been eyeballing an expansion for years,” Harbor President Michael Weis said. “Lexington’s success over the years made us look around. At the end of the day, we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. We wanted to be near an automotive presence, and Bowling Green has that obviously.”
Weis said he hopes the plant will be operating by the “third or fourth quarter” next year and bring those 25 workers on board over the next two years.
He hinted that Harbor’s presence in Bowling Green could grow. The plant will be built to accommodate an expansion.
“It will be built so that everything is laid out for an expansion,” Weis said. “We try to be conservative, but we plan to double the size of the plant in the next few years.”
Such growth will be part of a routine for the Transpark.
The Inter-Modal Transportation Authority, which oversees the Transpark, has aggressively looked for opportunities to expand in recent years, and the industrial park in the northern end of Warren County has more than doubled in size over the past 20 years.
Most recently, the City-County Planning Commission of Warren County approved a Future Land Use Map amendment and a rezoning that will bring another 232 acres into the Transpark, which now encompasses about 2,000 acres.
The application for that rezoning said “the original Transpark is nearly full. The ITA’s recent acquisition of the adjoining Wilson property is also quickly filling up. Additional industrial property is needed to ensure the community will continue to attract new industries that will provide jobs for the citizens of Bowling Green and Warren County.”
Harbor’s Weis said the Transpark was attractive to his company for a number of reasons, not the least of which was its transportation infrastructure.
“Probably a big difference maker was the potential for rail access,” he said. “That’s important because of the current uncertainties in trucking.”
Harbor’s decision was also influenced by some state incentives.
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $500,000 in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $8 million and its employment targets.
Additionally, KEDFA approved Harbor Steel for up to $100,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act. KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
“The state and the city of Bowling Green have been good to work with,” Weis said.
Weis said the plant will offer a variety of job opportunities from management and sales to equipment operation. “We’re family-owned,” he said. “We try to treat our people well.”
– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.