'Why not Kentucky?' Gov. Beshear touts Firestone plant expansion plan

Posted at 4:59 PM, Aug 02, 2021

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky (LEX 18) — Who says members of opposite sides of the aisle can’t agree on anything?

Gov. Andy Beshear, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and State Sen. Robert Stivers touted the $51 million Firestone plant expansion in Williamsburg on Monday, which will employ an additional 250 people by December 2022.

“A flag has been staked,” said Stivers who serves as the Senate president. “In five years the whole automotive industry will have seen a change that nobody ever expected.”

Stivers is referring to a study that shows 50 percent of all auto sales are projected to be electric vehicles by 2025. Firestone makes air springs for those vehicles. Now it will use this expansion of workforce and workspace to meet the growing need. Electric vehicles were part of the conversation in Washington where lawmakers are crafting the $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal, which Rogers says is about to pass.

“And part of that will go towards making our highways useful of electric vehicles,” he said.

Rogers said he was not in favor of the larger infrastructure deal with its roughly $3 trillion price tag because he said inflation would be a concern. He felt the $1.2 trillion price tag was a solid compromise.

The Firestone expansion is just one of many recent announcements by various companies that are either committing to Kentucky or doubling down on the commitments made in previous years.

“We see more momentum in Kentucky than I can remember in my lifetime,” said Beshear.

“We’re showing the world what we can do. With water drying up in the west and hospitals being overrun in bigger cities, suddenly living in Kentucky is more attractive than it’s ever been,” Beshear continued.

For Firestone, the hope is it’ll be a bigger attraction for the 250 people they’ll employ to fill this new plant once it's completed in about 16 months.

"People are saying, ‘Why not Kentucky?’” Beshear said.