Newcomers ruled the night Wednesday at the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce Targeted Business and Industry Awards banquet.

The awards banquet at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center capped a year in which, by the chamber’s figures, southcentral Kentucky has announced 17 business and industry projects totaling $482 million in capital investment.

That influx of new and expanding employers was evident on a roster of award winners that included 11 winners in the Business Expansion category and six in the Newcomer category.

One of those newcomers, Ball Corp., walked away with the night’s biggest award: the John B. Holland Business of the Year Award named in honor of the former Fruit of the Loom president and CEO.

Colorado-based Ball Corp. was honored for its announcement in January that it was planning to invest $305 million to build and equip a 450,000-square-foot plant on a 40-acre tract in the Kentucky Transpark.

Ball might also deserve an award for the speed of its development.

Steve Tua, director of operations for the local Ball plant, announced Wednesday in his acceptance speech that the plant has already started producing tops for aluminum cans and is ramping up toward its goal of 200 workers.

“We’ve been operating for about four weeks,” Tua said. “It’s incredible how fast everything is happening.”

Tua said the local plant will eventually produce 20 billion aluminum can tops per year.

“And that’s just phase one,” he said. “That’s about 50% of what the plant can handle.”

Originally known as a manufacturer of glass jars and lids used for home canning, Ball Corp. spun off that business in 1993 and is now riding the growing wave in aluminum manufacturing.

“What we want to be famous for is producing sustainable aluminum products,” Tua said.

Ball was joined in receiving a Newcomer Award by Transpark neighbor Harbor Steel & Supply Corp., which this month announced plans to build a 50,000-square-foot plant employing 25 people.

Another Newcomer Award went to Bluegrass Ingredients, which continues to renovate the historic Mariah Moore building at 801 State St. and convert it to the company’s headquarters.

The other Newcomer Award winners were Fruehauf Inc., Material Handling Systems and Nova Steel.

Companies receiving Business Expansion Awards for expanding their local operations in 2021 were Android Industries, Bowling Green Metalforming, Castlen Steel, Cross Check Quality Inspection, Delta Faucet, Dollar General, Fruit of the Loom, Pink Lily, Rhenus Automotive Operations, Southeastern Marketing and Distribution, and Stratus Plastics.

Healthcare Enterprise Awards for health care organizations that expanded in 2021 went to Med Center Health and TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital.

A Business Innovation Award went to Trace Die Cast, and a Green to Gold Award for environmental stewardship went to Logan Aluminum.

Ron Bunch, president and CEO of the Bowling Green chamber, said it was appropriate to recognize new and existing local companies that he said created more than 1,300 jobs this year.

“Our existing targeted businesses are what fuel the continued growth of our region’s economy,” Bunch said. “It is a privilege to be able to support them every day, and it is only fitting that we honor them through this event for the impact they’ve had through capital investment, job creation and community engagement.”

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.