Startup OBT Ashland to create 55 jobs with $45.5 million investment in Greenup County


Staff report



FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Omnis Building Technologies (OBT) Ashland, a startup manufacturer of economical, sustainable and fire-resistant doors and cabinetry, will invest $45.5 million into the commonwealth and create 55 jobs with a new facility in Greenup County.

“We are working to create economic opportunities and quality jobs in every region of the state, and this investment by OBT Ashland in Greenup County helps move us toward that goal,” Gov. Beshear said. “I am thrilled the company’s leaders see the great advantages of locating in this community, and I look forward to OBT’s growth in Northeast Kentucky for years to come.”

Using renewable resources and advanced materials, OBT Ashland will manufacture doors and cabinets with the construction of a 100,000-square-foot facility at the Wurtland Riverport. The doors and cabinets are to be available wholesale but primarily will be used inside OBT’s own energy-efficient homes, which are made with panels called Composite Insulated Building Units (CIBUs). The CIBUs are to be produced at a facility in Bluefield, West Virginia, which will complement the investment in Kentucky. Together, they will provide affordable, high-quality, energy-efficient homes that are readily available to satisfy the growing housing market.

Jonathan Hodson, president of OBT, said major factors in choosing the location included the ability to serve a substantial portion of the U.S. population and the existing infrastructure, such as direct river and rail access.

“We are excited to expand our presence in Appalachia and to bring family-sustaining jobs to Kentucky by manufacturing revolutionary products to assist in solving the nation’s housing crisis,” Hodson said. “Our collaboration with successful local businesses like Wright Concrete is ensuring our mission will be achieved.”

Shannon Wright, president and CEO of Wrightway Building Solutions, a division of Wright Concrete, added that he anticipates a successful partnership with OBT.

“We look forward to working with Jonathan and the OBT team to provide superior products and services to Kentucky and throughout the rest of the country,” Wright said. “We are proud to be a partner in bringing innovative and long-term support to our local economy.”

Another goal of OBT is to specifically support growth in communities impacted by the decline of coal and create an economically diverse ecosystem with job creation, capital investment, workforce development and re-employment opportunities.

OBT Ashland adds to Kentucky’s manufacturing presence, which includes nearly 5,000 facilities that employ approximately 250,000 people across the state. In 2021, manufacturers contributed to 13,900 new jobs in the commonwealth with $10.5 billion in new investments.

Greenup County Judge/Executive Robert Carpenter said he expects OBT to have sustained success at its new location.

“We are happy to welcome Omnis Building Technologies to Greenup County,” Judge Carpenter said. “This cutting-edge technology is a great fit for our area’s workforce. We look forward to their long-term success and growth.”

Tim Gibbs, president and CEO of the Ashland Alliance, said the project highlights the region’s skilled workforce.

“Great day to be in Greenup County and Northeast Kentucky,” Gibbs said. “The world is finding talent and opportunity in our community and people.”

OBT’s investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.

In 2021, the commonwealth shattered every economic development record in the books. Private-sector new-location and expansion announcements included a record $11.2 billion in total planned investment and commitments to create a record 18,000-plus full-time jobs across the coming years. Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage for projects statewide in 2021 was $24 before benefits, a 9.4% increase over the previous year.

In recent months, the Beshear administration announced the two largest economic development projects in state history. In September, Gov. Beshear and leaders from Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation celebrated a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs in Hardin County. And in April, the Governor was joined by leadership at Envision AESC to announce a $2 billion investment that will create 2,000 jobs in Warren County. These announcements solidify Kentucky as the EV battery production capital of the United States.

The economic momentum has carried strongly into 2022, with both S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings upgrading Kentucky’s financial outlook to positive in recognition of the commonwealth’s surging economy.

For April 2022, the state budget director reported the highest-ever monthly General Fund receipts of $1.84 billion. That is up 34.9% over last April’s collections, bringing Kentucky’s year-to-date growth rate to 16.4%.

And Site Selection magazine recently placed Kentucky at 6th in its annual Prosperity Cup rankings for 2022, which recognizes state-level economic success based on capital investments.

To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) today preliminarily approved a 15-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $2.1 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $45.5 million and annual targets of:

Creation and maintenance of 55 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 15 years; and

Paying an average hourly wage of $33 including benefits across those jobs.

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.

In addition, the company can receive resources from Kentucky’s workforce service providers. Those include no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job-training incentives.

Staff report