When community leaders blur county lines and economic development professionals build proactive partnerships, growth happens in Kentucky, and – sometimes – hundreds of jobs are created in what seems like a New York minute.
That’s what happened when Chapin International, Inc. leaders came to town in 2020 and knocked on Rockcastle County’s door, looking to expand its North American operation to Kentucky. The New York-based manufacturer wanted to move quickly to meet its supply demands and the restrictions of the pandemic.
“When we first went to Kentucky and met with the Rockcastle County Judge (Howell) Holbrook and (RCIDA Economic Development Director) Jeff VanHook, we told them we prefer to plan conservatively and move forward as fast as possible,” explained Chapin International President Jim Campbell. “The 10-year employment goal for 100 new jobs in the first five years was met in less than 12 months from the initial meeting.”
Fast forward one year later, the New York-based corporation began looking for a site to expand its Kentucky operation and found a location in Boyle County that met its specific needs.
This fall, Chapin International, Inc. is locating its $16 million investment across two South Central Kentucky communities, creating 300 new manufacturing jobs in the middle of a pandemic.
Chapin International, Inc. senior management said they chose to locate and expand in Kentucky over other sites in Ohio and Michigan due to excellent economic development partnerships, reactive community leadership, and something they rarely see in the business world.
“The people of Rockcastle and Boyle Counties are ready to work,” Campbell said, attributing this to the prudent state economic policies and the exceptional work ethic of the Kentucky people. “This is why business is thriving in Kentucky and continues to rank highly nationally. “We are excited to be part of the continued growth of business in Kentucky.”
The result? Tens of thousands of American-made products are being made in the state and distributed worldwide by hundreds of Kentuckians.
That job creation is a direct result of the partnerships and policies that Chapin officials reference.
When Chapin began seeking a second site, VanHook called on state, regional and local economic development professionals to seal the expansion deal with the nation’s biggest sprayer manufacturer.
One of those partners was Kentucky Crossroads, an 11-county economic development partnership in central Kentucky. Members have been together since 2009 to help companies get all of the assistance they need to make the best decisions that increase their success. Rockcastle and Boyle counties are members of the regional economic development authority.
Veteran community and business leader Jody Lassiter was president/CEO at Develop Danville, Inc. when the negotiations with Chapin began to take shape. He is also one of the Kentucky Crossroads architects.
“I’ve always believed that boundaries should unite neighboring counties as a region rather than divide them. When Chapin contacted us about growing a new Danville location by acquiring an existing industrial facility, I soon learned that the overall project included a healthy expansion at its Mount Vernon operation, Lassiter explained. “This effort quickly became a natural team effort with my valued colleague Jeff VanHook and produced greater synergy between Rockcastle and Boyle counties as long-time Kentucky Crossroads partners.”
And VanHook says the project has been a big win for Rockcastle County and Kentucky Crossroads.
“Being a member of the Kentucky Crossroads Coalition has allowed for the development of relationships with the partners,” VanHook said. “Those relationships are very important to me in seeking assistance on projects that will aid in landing projects for our region or strengthening our marketing potential. That was very true in this situation as it was a very comfortable situation to work with Jody Lassiter as a known economic regional partner and friend of Rockcastle in particular on the Chapin expansion.”
Chapin leaders will invest $8.25 million and create 100 jobs in Boyle County by acquiring a 496,000-square-foot facility on the South Danville Bypass. The company also will increase investment in its Mount Vernon operation to $13.9 million and double job creation at the facility to 200 full-time positions.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear issued a press release detailing the state’s role in shoring up the expansion.
“Time is money for businesses growing in Kentucky, and Chapin International is setting a record pace for growth in the commonwealth,” Beshear said. “Chapin shares our vision to create quality jobs for Kentuckians for years to come, and I thank its leadership for believing in our state and our talented workforce for not one but two significant new investments here.”
The company produces and distributes metal compressed air sprayers for various uses, including industrial concrete sprayers, professional landscaper/contractor backpack sprayers, ATV sprayers, and specialty hose-end and handheld sprayers. Chapin’s growing Kentucky presence positions the company to better serve customers throughout North America, officials said.
Boyle County Judge-Executive Howard Hunt said he couldn’t be happier with the results.
“Boyle County prides itself in being a ‘Historically Bold’ community,” Hunt said. “We are excited that Chapin International has the opportunity to make its own history here in Danville-Boyle County, Kentucky.”
Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Brett Traver met with Chapin officials and local leaders during the process. He calls this collaboration unique and a path to successful economic development in the region.
“It isn’t often you find two communities working together, like this, to make a project happen,” Traver said. “Mount Vernon and Danville aren’t neighbors, but this partnership between community and economic development leaders is what helped win this project and keep the company growing in Kentucky.”