Cultivating Manufacturing in the Commonwealth

This is the second in a series of profiles highlighting the state manufacturing associations LIFT has partnered with to support advanced manufacturing in the Midwest region.

For over 100 years, the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers has served as the advocacy voice for the industry across the Commonwealth.

Today, KAM still maintains that role, according to Mary Breeding, president and CEO of the Foundation for Kentucky Industry, the non-profit foundation arm of KAM.

“Our mission is to attract, educate and retain talent for the Commonwealth’s manufacturing industry,” Breeding said. “We are positioned to accept public and private funds to support a robust manufacturing environment in the Commonwealth – from technology, education, workforce development and all that entails.”

That mission includes serving as the fiscal conduit and working with Kentucky FAME on some of the LIFT education and workforce development initiatives in Kentucky, like MakerMinded and the Teacher Externship Program.

“LIFT is absolutely having an impact at the local level in Kentucky through those initiatives,” she said. “It doesn’t get any more local and impactful than changing the mindset of how we teach our children and making sure that manufacturing doesn’t get lost in the vision of what it means to have a viable career.”

The manufacturing industry continues to be strong in Kentucky. The state is ranked third for auto production with large facilities for Ford, Toyota and General Motors. The largest manufacturing export in the state is in the aerospace industry, serving both the commercial and defense markets, from gaskets to fuel rings to arm rests.

While working with LIFT initially came in the form of participating in the LIFT Education and Workforce Development Kentucky State Team and helping rollout some of the initiatives in the state, a meeting at LIFT in Detroit earlier this year opened Breeding’s eyes to everything the institute was working on.

“I didn’t realize LIFT’s headquarters was immersed into innovative manufacturing technology,” she said. “I was expecting just an office building, I had no idea the level of investment that the Department of Defense was making in downtown Detroit with the location of LIFT’s headquarters. It is a phenomenal thing.”

“It is newsworthy and noteworthy, not just the physical structure, but the programmatic outreach that LIFT is doing with schools, it is just terrific,” she continued. “It is an amazing investment and makes me proud that tax dollars are being spent in the rebirth of Detroit.”

Going forward, Breeding and KAM see a bright future for LIFT and continuing to work with the state manufacturing associations in each state of the mid-west region as a group to support the industry across the region.

“The voice of the five states is an untapped resource in terms of the future,” she said. “What can we do to work together? You can talk about a local economy all you want, but the regional economy is vitally important.”

For more information on the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, visit