Kentucky’s largest economic development project is underway: Ford and SK On break ground

By Genie Graf, Building Kentucky

Ford and SK On have broken ground at BlueOval SK Battery Park, where their joint venture – BlueOval SK – has invested $5.8 billion to produce advanced batteries for future Ford and Lincoln electric vehicles, slated to start production in 2025, creating 5,000 new jobs in Kentucky.

Construction is on schedule at the two massive battery manufacturing facilities capable of collectively producing more than 80 gigawatt hours annually.

“BlueOval SK Battery Park will be at the core of the electrification of the North American auto market,” said Jee Dong-seob, SK On president and CEO. “We expect SK On and Ford’s leadership in the global electric vehicle market to be solidified through BlueOval SK.”

Significant construction progress at BlueOval SK Battery Park brings Ford closer to its target of producing an annual run rate of 2 million electric vehicles globally by the end of 2026.

“Ford’s roots run deep in Kentucky, and BlueOval SK is going to help Ford to lead the EV revolution, bringing thousands of new, high-tech jobs to the Bluegrass State,” said Lisa Drake, vice president, Ford EV Industrialization. “Ford is building on more than a century of investment in Kentucky and its incredible workforce.”

BlueOval SK Battery Park will train 5,000 new workers at the new Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC) BlueOval SK Training Center, located on the 1,500-acre BlueOval SK Battery Park site.

“At BlueOval SK Battery Park, we’re building the future – state-of-the-art batteries for future Ford and Lincoln electric vehicles and a bright future for the workforce in Kentucky,” said David Hahm, BlueOval SK CEO. “In order to produce these batteries, we need a premier workforce that is trained in the latest battery and advanced manufacturing technology.”

The ECTC BlueOval SK Training Center is the only co-branded learning facility within the Kentucky Community College System and represents a $25 million investment by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

“The partnership between Kentucky and Ford dates back more than a century, to the very dawn of the automobile industry,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said. “That bond grows even stronger today as we break ground on Ford and SK On’s BlueOval SK Battery Park in Hardin County. As both the largest economic development project in our state’s history and part of the biggest investment ever by Ford, this project cements Kentucky’s status as the electric vehicle battery production capital of the United States.”

The curriculum within the 42,000 square-foot training facility will support battery knowledge, roles and skills. BlueOval SK will train employees in SK On’s proprietary technical, quality and manufacturing processes in the ECTC BlueOval SK Training Center’s virtual reality labs, industrial maintenance lab, work simulation lab and ergonomics techniques classrooms.

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) will begin construction of the ECTC BlueOval SK Training Center in 2023 and is scheduled to be complete in 2024.

Individuals interested in learning more about employment at BlueOval SK Battery Park can visit ford.gr8people.com/communities/9940/kentucky-workforce-of-the-future.

Construction at BlueOval SK Battery Park remains on schedule

Significant progress has been made at the 2.3 square-mile battery manufacturing campus. Already, crews have:

  • Moved 4.3 million cubic yards of soil, enough to fill 200 American football stadiums
  • Laid 283,000 tons of stone, equivalent to the weight of nearly 1,350 locomotives
  • Poured 66,000 cubic yards of concrete – enough to fill 356 backyard swimming pools
  • Installed 3,300 tons of rebar to reinforce the concrete, equivalent to the weight of more than 470 elephants
  • Installed 1,300 deep foundations, equal to the height of nearly 60 Empire State Buildings stacked end to end
  • Erected 7,900 tons of structural steel, equivalent to the weight of nearly 400 fire trucks

A symbol for the future

A beam was signed by 300 community members, local stakeholders and government officials, including Governor Andy Beshear during the groundbreaking ceremony.

Crews have also erected a 6,000-pound steel beam that was signed by more than 300 community members, local stakeholders and government officials, including Gov. Beshear, during the groundbreaking ceremony. The beam will live within the first BlueOval SK battery plant, which will begin producing advanced batteries for future Ford and Lincoln electric vehicles when the facility opens in 2025.

“The people of central Kentucky are the driving force behind the project today and into the future,” said Dave Nowicki, Director of Manufacturing Operations for EV Programs. “We are proud to have all those who joined us at the groundbreaking celebration permanently leave their mark on the BlueOval SK Battery Park project.”

Continued commitment to the community

Through the campus construction process, Ford and its construction partners continue to engage with communities in Kentucky through donations, sponsorship and volunteer efforts, building on Ford’s 109-year commitment to the state.

Ford Motor Company provided nearly $40,000 and manpower from its construction partners, Barton Malow Company and Gray Construction, to the city of Glendale, home to BlueOval SK Battery Park. The team refreshed many of the city’s parks and sidewalks, some of which had not been replaced in more than 100 years.

Ford’s construction partners also installed handicap accessible ramps throughout Glendale and supported various projects locally with United Way of Central Kentucky, Feeding America and Habitat for Humanity throughout Central Kentucky. Ford donated $42,000 to the Glendale Volunteer Fire Department, increasing the department’s budget by more than 50 percent. Ford also sponsored this year’s Glendale Crossing Festival.

“Ford has been a pillar of the community in Kentucky for more than a century and now Glendale will write the next chapter,” said Lisa Slaven, Hardin County Schools Transition Readiness Director. “As an educator and member of this community, I view the building of BlueOval SK Battery Park as synonymous with creating new learning opportunities and skill sets for the careers of tomorrow for our students, our community and Kentucky.”

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