LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Louisville’s largest employer, Atlanta-based UPS, plans to add hundreds more jobs in coming years as it grows its business handling the shipping of sensitive healthcare material like COVID-19 vaccines and drugs used in clinical trials.
UPS will expand its Supply Chain Solutions operations with additional warehouses in Jefferson and Bullitt counties, according to state officials handling the company’s approval for economic development incentives.
The expansions will result in 315 new jobs in Jefferson County and 121 in Bullitt County within ten years, state officials told the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority’s board on Thursday.
The precise locations of the facilities are undetermined. Documents indicate the Bullitt County facility will be in Shepherdsville, whose city government will shoulder some of the cost of the economic development incentives.
The Louisville jobs will pay an average hourly rate of $40.14 while the Shepherdsville jobs will pay an average hourly rate $37.38, according to a state database.
In all, UPS plans to add 2 million square feet of warehouse space in a 25% expansion of its Supply Chain Solutions operations in the region. The Supply Chain Solutions division stores and ships products for customers who outsource their e-commerce fulfillment to UPS.
UPS already operates 21 Supply Chain Solutions warehouses, a total of more than 8 million square feet, in the Louisville region.
The expansions will increase UPS’ capacity to handle mRNA products, such as the COVID-19 vaccines, which must be shipped and stored at very cold temperatures, state officials told the board.
UPS spokesman Jim Mayer declined to comment on the plans, saying the company would share details next month.
“We are grateful to the state for the incentives to help us continue to grow and create jobs in Louisville,” he said in an email.
UPS makes most of its money shipping everyday packages sold by Amazon and others. But high-dollar “healthcare logistics” is a key growth area for the company.
“(B)iologics and the need for cold-chain logistics creates large opportunities for growth for the UPS network,” Evercore ISI analysts said in a note to investor clients in September.
UPS’ healthcare business grew from $5 billion in revenue in 2016 to about $9 billion in 2021, analysts at Cowen estimated in September. The company is targeting $10 billion from the business, or about 10% of its total revenue.
Despite UPS having its global air hub in Louisville and Supply Chain Solutions operations here currently, state officials say the company might still bring the expansions to other states if Kentucky does not offer incentives.
The authority on Thursday approved potential payouts to UPS, doled out over ten years, of $9.5 million for the Louisville expansion and $3.5 million for the Shepherdsville expansion.
UPS plans to spend $156 million on the Louisville project and $179 million on the Shepherdsville project, according to state officials.
Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, praised the company in a news release.
“The foundation is being set for years of economic success to come, and we are only getting started,” Beshear said.