Beshear announces $310M development in Hopkinsville to create 250 jobs

Ascend Elements Inc., a privately held Massachusetts company, uses recycled lithium-ion batteries to manufacture materials for electric vehicle batteries.

A Massachusetts company has chosen Hopkinsville as the site for a plant that would employ 250 workers to manufacture materials for electric vehicle batteries, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday at the Christian County Courthouse.

Ascend Elements Inc. plans an initial investment of $310 million to build a 450,000-square-foot facility on 140 acres at Hopkinsville Commerce Park II, the governor said.

“They are going to be doing something that nobody else in America is doing right now,” Beshear said. 

The plant could grow to 400 employees with an investment of $1 billion, he said. 

Ascend Elements, a privately held company, has a patented process called Hyrdo-to-Cathode that relies on recycled lithium-ion battery materials, according to the company’s website. (A cathode is a metallic electrode — and through it, a current flows out in a polarized electrical device.)

beshear in hopkinsville
Gov. Andy Beshear shakes hands with Ashbel Brunson, a county water commissioner, as he arrives at the Christian County Courthouse on Monday, Aug. 1. (Photo by Jennifer P. Brown)

The plant will “ensure that Hopkinsville is part of the automotive industry of the future,” Beshear said. 

Prior to his arrival, Beshear’s office said in a press release that he was stopping in Hopkinsville to present funding for rural water and internet projects that were previously announced by state officials and reported by local media. The plant announcement was a surprise to several people who gathered in the fiscal courtroom to see the governor — and it preceded approval of local incentives. Hopkinsville City Council and Christian Fiscal Court are currently considering undisclosed incentives for Ascend Elements. 

Mayor Wendell Lynch told Hoptown Chronicle that city council members will discuss the incentives in closed session at their regular meeting Tuesday. Judge-Executive Steve Tribble said the incentives will come before Christian Fiscal Court on Aug. 9. 

Typically, local elected officials agree upon economic development incentives prior to a company officially announcing it will locate in the community. 

Hydro-to-Cathode leaching tanks at the Ascend Elements facility in Westborough, Massachusetts. (Ascend Elements photo)

On Thursday the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved a 15-year incentive agreement with Ascend Elements, according to a press release emailed from Beshear’s office as he was speaking in Hopkinsville.

Based on the pledge of a $310 million investment, the company can receive up to $7.5 million in tax incentives. It must create and maintain 250 full-time jobs, paying an average hourly wage of $34 including benefits, for Kentucky residents over a period of 15 years, according to the release. 

“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 release states. “The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.”

The company selected a site — on John Rivers Road near Pembroke — that was part of a parcel considered last year for an American Foods Group beef slaughterhouse. That company eliminated Christian County from consideration after public opposition mounted over concerns about the potential for pollution and traffic. 

Carter Hendricks, executive director of South Western Kentucky Economic Development Council, described Ascend Elements as “a very environmental, sustainability-oriented company.”

The governor’s press release states the company’s manufacturing process “generates no toxic waste and minimal carbon emissions.” Ascend Elements intends to produce enough material to equip up to 250,000 electric vehicle batteries annually.

Local officials have been talking to the company’s representatives for several months, Hendricks, Lynch and Tribble confirmed. 

Despite the lack of a firm agreement on the local incentives, Ascend Elements has already named its local site Apex 1 and plans to be operational by 2024. 

Beshear speaks at the Christian County Courthouse, where he announced that Ascend Elements Inc. plans to invest $310 to build a plant in Hopkinsville. (Photo by Jennifer P. Brown)

“I’d like to thank Gov. Beshear and his staff for their support as well as everyone in Christian County and the city of Hopkinsville. Clean energy and climate technology industries are bringing good jobs to communities across the country, and we couldn’t be happier with our decision to locate Apex 1 in Southwest Kentucky,” Michael O’Kronley, CEO of Ascend Elements, said in the release. “We’re building something in Kentucky that doesn’t exist anywhere in the United States — a domestic source of sustainable lithium-ion cathode material for EV batteries.”

Beshear said the company expects to create $4.4 billion in economic impact for Kentucky from construction through its first 10 years of operation. 

Beshear announces $310M development in Hopkinsville to create 250 jobs

Jennifer P. Brown | Hoptown Chronicle

Jennifer P. Brown is co-founder, publisher and editor of Hoptown Chronicle. You can reach her at editor@hoptownchronicle.org. She spent 30 years as a reporter and editor at the Kentucky New Era. She is a co-chair of the national advisory board to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, governing board president for the Kentucky Historical Society, and co-founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition.