KENTUCKY (From news reports) -- A large crowd showed up to view the groundbreaking of the Ahlstrom-Munksjö expansion in Madisonville.
Madisonville City Mayor Kevin Cotton said Ahlstrom expanding in Madisonville speaks volumes to the dedication, sacrifice, and hard work of the community.
"This investment into our community is something that is going to change lives, not just here in Madisonville, but this is going to change lives everywhere," he said.
Ahlstrom announced in May that they planned to invest $70 million in a new glass fiber tissue production line, creating almost 50 jobs in Madisonville.
The new line will produce a full range of glass fiber tissue nonwovens with the main focus on Luxury Vinyl Tiles and Vinyl sheet materials. Deliveries from the new line are expected to start in mid-2023.
Madisonville already has an established Ahlstrom plant developing and producing filtration materials for transportation and industrial applications, which employs 133 people.
The new site is next to the existing plant, on property previously used by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
In October, the Madisonville City Council voted to authorize Cotton to transfer the property to the Hopkins County Industrial Development Authority, which in turn transferred that property to Ahlstrom.
Mike Hady, the plant manager for the Madisonville and Taylorville locations, said Ahlstrom is going to be able to build the site from ground zero to make it a whole new platform of product in Madisonville.
"The current Madisonville employees have demonstrated a long history of commitment and dedication of making the current facility successful, and they were integral in bringing the site here," he said. "The overall community itself has supported this site and has been a strength."
Ahlstrom Engineering and Technology Manager Juhani Piispa said the glass fiber diesel market is growing, and their main segment flooring business is growing about 5% annually.
"That is why we are constructing the new production line here," he said.
Ahlstrom is currently serving U.S.-based customers mainly from their Finland plant and has transportation wait times of around six weeks.
"With this new production line we will be able to serve our customers here locally, so we will have Kentucky-made glass fiber diesel infusion," said Piispa.
Ray Hagerman, president of the Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation, said the plant is a showpiece for the rest of the state, the rest of the region, and the rest of the country as to what can happen in Madisonville with a world-class organization like Ahlstrom-Munksjö.
He said over the past 10 years Ahlstrom has invested about $120 to 130 million into the community.
Hopkins County Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield, Jr. said Ahlstrom-Munksjö is an anchor industry in Hopkins County, so the investment means it is not going anywhere anytime soon.
"That is an outstanding announcement for us," he said. "Rural communities across the country are growing or dying, and things like this make sure that we will continue to grow here in Hopkins County."