Ford Breaks Ground On Electric Vehicle Battery Training Center In Kentucky

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Ford stated in September 2021 that it would establish Ford BlueOval SK Battery Park in Kentucky and Ford BlueOval City in Tennessee, two large sites dedicated to producing EVs and EV batteries. Ford and SK On, a South Korean battery manufacturer, entered into a joint venture for the former location, and the two businesses recently broke ground there with the goal of producing batteries for electric vehicles beginning in 2025. The Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC) BlueOval SK Training Center has now also broken ground, according to the motor company.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear joined representatives from ECTC, BlueOval SK, and Ford Motor Company on Tuesday to formally break ground on the ECTC BlueOval SK Training Center in Glendale, Kentucky. The steel framing of the upcoming 42,000-square-foot training facility was already visible in the distance.

Image courtesy of Ford.

Beginning in 2025, batteries for upcoming Ford and Lincoln automobiles will be manufactured in the brand-new, 1,500-acre BlueOval SK Battery Park. Five thousand workers will be employed by BlueOval SK Battery Park, and they will receive training at the upcoming ECTC BlueOval SK Training Center on-site in order to be prepared for their future careers.

“World-class companies are betting their futures on Kentucky because of our world-class workforce. This training center will help make sure BlueOval SK has the skilled employees it needs to begin production on day one,” Governor Beshear (Democrat) said. “The cutting-edge facility will provide incredible opportunities for our people as Kentucky establishes itself as the electric vehicle battery capital of the United States.”

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear at BlueOval SK Training Center in Glendale, Kentucky. Image courtesy of Ford.

The General Assembly allocated $25 million for this project in Senate Bill 5, which the Governor signed in September 2021 during a special session. The training facility’s construction began in February 2023 and will be completed in the spring of 2024.

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System’s ECTC BlueOval SK Training Center will be the only co-branded educational facility and train workers in a variety of fields, including proprietary technical, quality, and manufacturing processes, through virtual reality labs, industrial maintenance labs, work simulation labs, and classrooms that use ergonomics techniques.

“Today is an important day in the history of Elizabethtown Community and Technical College and our community, of which BlueOval SK is now a part,” said Dr. Juston Pate, president and CEO of ECTC. “The official groundbreaking of the ECTC BlueOval SK Training Center is a testament to the incredible dedication of leaders — in Elizabethtown, Hardin County and across our commonwealth — when it comes to partnering and working hand-in-hand to create new opportunities for individuals.”

Companies in the electric vehicle (EV) industry have announced investments totaling $10.6 billion since June 2020, which will result in the creation of almost 10,000 full-time jobs.

Governor Beshear, Ford, and SK On announced the historic $5.8 billion investment to construct two electric vehicle battery installations in Glendale in September 2021, calling it the single greatest economic development project in the history of the Commonwealth.

In December 2022, Ford and SK On officially broke ground at BlueOval SK Battery Park, where the joint venture, BlueOval SK, will manufacture advanced batteries for upcoming Ford and Lincoln electric vehicles at two huge battery manufacturing facilities capable of producing more than 80 gigawatt-hours of batteries annually, which represents an equivalent to 860,000 packs at 100 kWh each. This large production capacity is an important part of Ford’s strategy to raise its annual global production run rate to 2 million electric vehicles by the end of 2026. (For some perspective, Tesla, the world leader in this market, sold 1.3 million electric vehicles globally in 2022, and nearly 423,000 in the first quarter of 2023.)

“Ford and SK On are bringing thousands of new, high-quality jobs to the Bluegrass State,” said Liliana Ramirez, Ford’s global director of workforce development. “The custom-designed ECTC BlueOval SK Training Center will house the technical and advanced manufacturing education for these new roles, as well as provide hands-on experience needed to build the future — a bright future for the workforce of Kentucky in careers building batteries for future Ford and Lincoln vehicles.”

Ryan Wheeler, manager of the BlueOval SK Kentucky #2 Plant and a native of Hardin County, said he played on the property where the training center will be built as a child and is thrilled to be returning home after being drafted by the New York Yankees and later joining Ford Motor Company. “The new ECTC BlueOval SK Training Center is critical for preparing employees to work at BlueOval SK,” said Wheeler. “We’re thrilled the facility is so close to the battery park and Central Kentucky residents don’t have to leave the area to get the training they need to have a successful career at BlueOval SK.”

“ECTC is an essential component to the success of BlueOval SK,” said Ursula Madden, director of external affairs, BlueOval SK. “The technical training our employees receive will equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to build EV batteries for future Ford and Lincoln brands.”

“We find ourselves in one of the most ‘electric’ regions of the country because of tremendous partnerships, collaboration and the willingness of both public and private to invest in the future. I’m extremely proud of our local leadership at ECTC and their ability to provide curriculum and training to support this exciting BOSK joint venture,” said Jeff Gregory, mayor of Elizabethtown. “This beautiful training center will lead the way for others to follow and will help create a unique workforce to support this unprecedented electric vehicle battery facility.” In other words, the EV-expert workforce that will develop in this area of Kentucky is seen as something that will go beyond this Ford and SK On facility. There is much research on the matter of developing niche economic regions that become national or global leaders in some industry, but probably the most famous example is Silicon Valley, where much of the computer development in the world has occurred and where many of the top software companies in the world started. Elizabethtown Mayor Gregory may not have such grand visions, but it’s clear that he would like to see his city and region continue evolving as an EV manufacturing and development powerhouse nationally and perhaps even globally.

“There are no words to express how it feels to stand here today, with our incredible partner ECTC, on the site we have nurtured for 20-plus years, and know that very soon 5,000 people will have started phenomenal careers right here in Hardin County with BlueOval SK,” added Rick Games, president and CEO, Elizabethtown/Hardin County Industrial Foundation. “This has been a true collaboration and shared vision of partners at the local, regional and state levels.”

Image courtesy of Ford.

The state is planning school visits to the battery manufacturing facility throughout Hardin County schools to show the Kentucky kids that they don’t need to relocate outside of the state in order to have fruitful, sustainable careers.

“Members of the class of 2025, currently sophomores, will be able to stay here and have exceptional careers in the EV business,” said Lisa Slaven, transition readiness director of Hardin County Schools. “This initiative will create careers and power the EVs we may all drive.”

With the help of the advanced training center, the good folks in Kentucky will be able provide the workforce that Ford needs to reach its goals, and the younger generations won’t have to leave the state to find work. Sounds like a win–win situation. Ford is also investing a full $3.5 billion into a new LFP battery factory in Marshall, Michigan. Production there is supposed to start in 2026.

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica.TV Video

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.