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'Hometown of the electric battery': Officials break ground on EV battery plants, training center in Kentucky

Construction of the 2.3-square-mile BlueOval SK Battery Park is on schedule and the campus' training center is set to open in 2024.

GLENDALE, Ky. — Both electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturing facilities have gone vertical in Hardin County.

And after just a couple months of building, the structure is already starting to take shape.

According to Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, construction at the 2.3-square-mile BlueOval SK Battery Park is on schedule, which will include twin plants to produce what's needed to power the next generation of electric cars. The battery manufacturing campus is a joint venture between the Ford Motor Company and SK On.

At a groundbreaking celebration in Glendale Monday, officials announced the park will include a 42,000-square-foot training center on site, which is set to open in 2024. The Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC) BlueOval SK Training Center represents a $25 million investment by the state.

“The partnership between Kentucky and Ford dates back more than a century, to the very dawn of the automobile industry,” Beshear said. "We're building what may be the world's largest production plant for electric vehicle batteries."

The factories will reportedly create 5,000 new, high-tech jobs. The training center will look to bring on local, Kentucky graduating students -- including those from Hardin and LaRue County Schools.

Lisa Slaven, the transition readiness director for Hardin County Schools, says students are eager to get into this field.

"They love doing the hands-on courses, we've noticed that. We added a construction pathway, and we had to double the amount of teachers just in the second year because so many students were interested," she said. "This is a huge help for us to have such an amazing opportunity right here in our backyard."

Slaven predicts the jobs will be highly sought after, saying as many as 20 percent of her upcoming graduating class could go directly to the program.

Ford and SK On have invested $5.8 billion to produce the advanced batteries for Ford and Lincoln’s electric vehicles, according to Beshear.

WHAS11 got to see the major progress made up close. We're told construction workers have been putting up around 300 steel beams per day.

Officials expect to break ground on the training center in 2023 and have it open by 2024. BlueOval SK says its on schedule to open up one EV battery plant by 2025 and the other by 2026.

Ford says this will help it reach its goal of producing two million electric vehicles globally each year, 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 of Ford EV Industrialization. “Ford is building on more than a century of investment in Kentucky and its incredible workforce.”

Beshear called the electric battery plant "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," he said.

Anyone interested in learning more about the jobs can click here.

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