Statewide manufacturing alliance announced at WKU

Kaely Holloway

A new alliance that will allow manufacturers in Kentucky to grow in size and efficiency by giving them access to statewide development resources was recently announced at WKU. It also focuses on coaching, training, identifying and implementing ways to grow and become more competitive in the manufacturing field.

The Advantage Kentucky Alliance, a statewide NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership, will consist of university, state, federal and professional partners.


President Gary Ransdell; Ron Bunch, president of the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce; Scott Broughton, director of the Advantage Kentucky Alliance Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Ken Carroll, president of the Foundation for Kentucky Industry, all spoke at the announcement last Friday, welcoming the new alliance and theorizing its future potential.

Broughton’s headquarters are located at the WKU Center for Research and Development. According to him, this alliance is the largest in the state.

Their five key areas are business growth services, supplier development services, continuous improvement services, technology acceleration and advanced manufacturing and workforce solutions.

“It is my extreme pleasure to introduce the alliance across the state, bringing the best of federal, state and private partnerships and alliances for the betterment of Kentucky Manufacturing,” Broughton said.

All resources are being used to bring this alliance to all manufacturers, regardless of their county, region or city.

“It’s really important that our universities be engaged in the economies that we not only help create, but we sustain and nurture and drive across all the sectors of Kentucky,” Ransdell said.

The university portion of this alliance will consist of WKU, Murray State University, Owensboro Community and Technical College, Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead State University, Northern Kentucky University and the University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering. Project managers for this alliance will be located statewide, starting with one at each university involved.

WKU will focus on client services for Innovation Engineering Management Systems and other strategies to help manufacturers expand and grow.

“Universities first and foremost have to worry about economic development; the time has long since passed when the primary mission was just to educate students,” Ransdell said.

The mission of the Advantage Kentucky Alliance is to help their clients and manufacturers grow through innovation, which they hope to achieve through their five key areas.

The goal of the alliance is to create better, competitive business manufacturers across the board, in supplying, distributing and manufacturing to create a better company and a better Kentucky.

“From the very beginning, this team has pulled in that whole concept of collaboration,” Bunch said.

Bunch also serves on the Board of Directors for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and Kentucky Association for Economic Development.

Carroll also spoke highly of the alliance, stating his company’s excitement to work with this alliance and collaboration.

“We’re in a race for advanced manufacturing jobs,” Carroll said. “My humble opinion, we’ve got about five years for Kentucky to secure its share of those jobs. We’ve got to have the ability to do it, and this is another major step in that direction.”