Kentucky governor predicts trip to Germany and Switzerland will reap more business investments

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear predicted Thursday that his recent economic development trip to Germany and Switzerland will reap more business investments in the Bluegrass State.

The Kentucky delegation met last week with leaders of companies already established in the state and cultivated ties with other businesses looking to invest in the U.S., the Democratic governor said. The response was “overwhelmingly positive,” Beshear said at his weekly news conference.

“I know that we left this trip keeping jobs intact that a company or two may have thought about moving elsewhere,” Beshear said. “But I also know we’re going to see expansions or new locations coming out of this. Just about every meeting went as well as we could have asked for.”

It was Beshear’s first overseas economic development trip as governor but likely won’t be his last. The governor revealed that his team is working to arrange a similar trip to Japan and South Korea.

Touting Kentucky’s record pace of economic development growth during his tenure is a recurring theme for Beshear, who raised his national profile by winning reelection to a second term last year in the Republican-leaning state. He typically starts his weekly press briefings by recounting the state’s newest economic development projects.

Since Beshear took office, more than 1,000 private sector, new location and expansion projects have been announced in Kentucky, totaling over $30.6 billion and creating more than 52,700 jobs, his office said Thursday. Leaders of Kentucky’s Republican-dominated legislature say the economic development surge is the result of business friendly policies enacted by lawmakers.

During meetings last week, Beshear said he and his team made pitches to the leaders of more than 100 companies that employ over 15,000 Kentuckians across 80 facilities in the state.

As part of his travels, Beshear visited more than 25 companies employing tens of thousands of Kentuckians. Of the companies he visited, 10 have North American headquarters in Kentucky, he said.

Germany is one of the largest European investors in Kentucky, with more than 90 companies operating in the state, Beshear said.

“Not only is it important to say ‘thank you’ to these German and Swiss companies that employ a number of Kentuckians, but it’s important to see them at their home because they create jobs in our home,” the governor said.

Beshear said he would have taken economic development trips abroad sooner had it not been for the series of crises that hit Kentucky during his first term — including the global pandemic, tornadoes that devastated parts of western Kentucky and flooding that inundated eastern sections of the state.

The governor has stressed the importance of American manufacturing amid times of global turmoil.

“It is part of our national security for the United States to make what the United States needs,” Beshear said at a Kentucky event before leaving on his European journey. “And in this era of global uncertainty, seemingly a new conflict every week or every month, ensuring that we can take care of our own here in this country is so critical to our future.”

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