Editor's note: This story was updated at 9 p.m. Tuesday with additional information about SteelBlue and comments from community leaders.

Frankfort has been chosen as the primary manufacturing location for SteelBlue, a startup manufacturer of building components. The project is expected to create 146 full-time jobs.

In a news release Wednesday, Gov. Andy Beshear welcomed the company’s decision to choose the commonwealth’s capital city for its headquarters.

“Our state’s diverse manufacturing base is one of our greatest strengths and this new company will be an ideal fit as we continue to grow and create quality jobs for Kentucky residents,” Beshear said.

SteelBlue will be taking over the 55,000-square-foot former Genesco shoe manufacturing facility on Hickory Drive, off Myrtle Avenue near East Frankfort Park. Work will start on the building in January, finishing by the end of 2022.

The facility will operate as the company’s primary manufacturing location of building components for the commercial construction industry. Company leaders noted the region’s central location within the U.S. and access to key transportation components as major factors in the decision to locate in Franklin County. Jobs created at the facility will include machine operators, shipping personnel and various leadership and management positions. 

“We are excited about the opportunity to locate our company’s primary manufacturing facility in Franklin County, Kentucky,” said Rich Saginaw, president and CEO of SteelBlue. “Frankfort and the local workforce give us great optimism about the ability to accelerate our growth. Further, we are equally excited about the use of Kentucky’s logistics footprint to deliver exceptional customer service across the country. We would also like to thank the Governor’s Office, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and Kentucky Capital Development Corp. for all of their assistance in making this opportunity a reality.”

SteelBlue was formed in October by Saginaw and Gary Brunette, who have 50-plus years of combined experience within the building materials sector. In addition to building components, the startup company plans to produce additional commercial products that will add structural integrity to new projects and retrofitted commercial buildings.

Franklin County Judge-Executive Huston Wells said the project will help build the region’s reputation within the manufacturing sector.

“Companies like SteelBlue Building Components continue to invest in Frankfort because of our central location, excellent transportation system, world-class business climate and exceptional workforce,” Wells said. “This $17.7 million investment will bring countless opportunities for local families and will play a major role in Frankfort’s continued success in job growth and talent development in the manufacturing sector.”

Frankfort Mayor Layne Wilkerson said the project will have a positive impact within the community.

“SteelBlue Building Components will be a wonderful addition to our community, and we welcome them with open arms. We share a recognition that Frankfort is a great place to invest and do business,” Mayor Wilkerson said. “Not only will SteelBlue create well over 100 local jobs, their nearly $18 million investment in the former Genesco shoe factory serves as a positive example of adaptive reuse within our city. Thanks to our partners in the governor’s office, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and Kentucky Capital Development Corp. for helping guide this project to our community.”

Terri Bradshaw, president/CEO of Kentucky Capital Development Corp., said she looks forward to a successful partnership with SteelBlue.

“Leadership at SteelBlue has been phenomenal to work with throughout the development of this project,” Bradshaw said. “This project will not only create 146 new jobs and renovate a building that has been empty for decades but will also bring a new entrepreneurial excitement to Frankfort. We are honored they chose Frankfort as their new home and we look forward to watching their dream come to fruition in our community.”

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) approved an incentive agreement with SteelBlue that could provide up to $1.5 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of nearly $17.7 million and annual targets of creating and maintaining 146 full-time jobs for Kentucky residents over 10 years and paying an average hourly wage of $34, including benefits.

By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.

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