• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Pilkington to spend $7.5 million on Versailles plant

State tax incentives are part of the equation that convinced Pilkington North America officials to invest $7.5 million at its Versailles plant at 102 Industry Drive. Gov. Matt Bevin’s office issued a news release Wednesday, Feb. 1, touting the company’s plan to spend the money on technology and manufacturing upgrades. The tax breaks were given preliminary approval at the monthly meeting of the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) the previous Thursday. At the monthly meeting of the Woodford Economic Development Authority on Friday, Jan. 27, chairman John Soper said the investment would not result in any new jobs at the Versailles plant, but could save 100 jobs. “This is a big deal. They (Pilkington) approached us about a month-and-a-half ago … What’s happening is Pilkington is investing $7.5 million in a new line replacing an existing windshield line out there, a windshield line. This is new HUD (heads up display) technology, and that’s where all the information from your car goes up on the windshield, and this was a very critical investment for us to get in this plant,” Soper said. Soper said if the tax incentives hadn’t been approved, officials were concerned that the HUD line might go to Canada. If that happened, he said, Pilkington contractors would take more traditional windshield business to Mexico. Pilkington’s general manager at its Versailles plant did not return a call from The Sun. “For the past 30 years, Pilkington North America has proven itself a reliable job provider in Woodford County and an important member of Kentucky’s thriving automotive engineering and manufacturing industry,” said Gov. Bevin. “Their latest investment reaffirms the company’s commitment to the community and its mission to provide high-tech products for its customers. The commonwealth is pleased to support this project and help ensure many more years of continued growth.” According to the governor’s news release, Pilkington will buy new equipment and use new proprietary technology to “support production of its formed glass pieces, as well as the polyvinyl butyral inner layer used to assemble windshields with Heads-Up Display.” Pilkington North America is part of NSG Group, a leading manufacturer of glass and glazing products for architectural, automotive and technical glass businesses. The company opened its Versailles plant in 1987 and employs about 300 people. State Sen. Julian Carroll (D-Frankfort) said the investment will positively impact the region. “Congratulations to Pilkington on updating the technology at its Versailles facility to better meet its manufacturing needs,” Carroll said. State Rep. James Kay (D-Versailles) said the project highlights the pro-business partnership between the company and Woodford County. “It is a great day for Woodford County to see Pilkington expand their Versailles glass operation, which already employs nearly 300 people, many of whom are Woodford Countians,” Kay said. Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott said he appreciated the company’s commitment to the community. “We are grateful that Pilkington North America is investing in their future in Versailles,” Traugott said. “They are an important part of our industrial base and provide many high-paying jobs.” Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle praised everyone involved. “This investment in technology will continue the successful partnership between Pilkington and Woodford County. We appreciate the combined efforts of Gov. Matt Bevin, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and our Woodford Economic Development Authority in bringing this project forward,” said Coyle. KEDFA preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives worth up to $700,000 through the Kentucky Reinvestment Act. The performance-based incentive allows the company to keep a portion of its investment over the term of the agreement through corporate income tax credits by meeting job retention and investment targets.

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