BOONE CO, Ky - The Northern Kentucky economy received a big shot in the arm Friday with news that a Boston-based company is moving operations to Boone County and creating 696 new, full-time jobs.
"This is a big one," said Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear during a morning news conference at NKU's METS Center in Erlanger.
Elovations Services Group has leased 150,000 square feet in the former Square D plant on Burlington Pike for a global e-commerce package processing center. The company is investing $13.7 million to remodel the space.
The bulk of the renovation work will be done by firms from Greater Cincinnati.
"We're basically a giant quality control center for international parcels," said Elovations CEO/Founder Michael DuGally. The facility will handle about 40 million packages a year.
The hiring process ramps up in a few weeks and the company will advertise when and where applications will be accepted.
DuGally said 100 employees are already on board and he hopes to be operating by October 15th. Another 200 people could be hired by December 15th and by the third quarter of 2013 he'd like to have two-shifts of 300 to 350 per shift on the job.
"It's going to be hard to get," he said. "As much as we think there are folks looking for work, it's not easy hiring them. Every major company struggles with maintaining good talent. That's hard to do, but we've been lucky so far."
Entry level positions will pay between $11 and $13 an hour. When management and other positions are added in, annual salaries will range from $27,000 to $50,000.
"These are not higher paying jobs, but they're decent jobs," DuGally said. "People here can live on that wage better than they can in the northeast."
Gov. Beshear said impact of the new jobs is impossible to overstate.
"That's 696 Kentucky families who are going to be able to lay their heads down at night feeling a lot more confident that they're going to be able to support their families, put food on the table, keep a roof over their head, send their kids to school and really boost that quality-of-life that we all know is so important," he said.
Why come to Northern Kentucky?
According to DuGally, it's a perfect combination of excellent quality space, good logistics access for all carriers and good international uplift points for access to international terminals. Plus, he said that in general the quality of the work force is much better than the Boston area.
"It's not too far on the east coast. It's not out west," he said.
It's also close to some of the largest e-commerce companies in the United States that have operations in Kentucky, including Amazon.com, GSI Commerce and Zappos.
"We figured if they're here, there's a reason and when we got here we were very pleased with the availability of the space," DuGally added.
Kentucky provided $7 million in performance-based tax incentives to allow the project to go forward. Specific job numbers have to be attained and maintained for the company to benefit.
"The nice part about Kentucky is the incentives created aren't handouts," DuGally said. "You're not going to see any freebies here. We have to earn it. We have to create those jobs. Those jobs have to last. You don't want carpetbaggers to come in for one or two years and then leave. The incentive doesn't allow that."
Gov. Beshear said since the state's incentives were overhauled in 2009, 450 projects have qualified with a potential investment of $4.7 billion. Over 35,000 jobs have been created or retained. Three dozen of those have been in Northern Kentucky with DHL, ZF Steering and Eagle Manufacturing among them.
"It's a win-win for both for the company that comes in and for the taxpayers of this Commonwealth because it creates jobs," said Gov. Beshear.
This isn't the first time DuGally has moved one of his companies. He also relocated a domestic e-commerce package processing firm called Noram International Partners to Airport Boulevard near Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. That firm is in the process of hiring 175 employees.
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