Independent Stave Company - Breaking Ground on Commonwealth Cooperage in Morehead, Kentucky

It was about a year ago that Independent Stave Company announced plans to build Commonwealth Cooperage, a new state of the art cooperage in Morehead, Kentucky. Today, Independent Stave Company employees along with local officials gathered together to break ground on the new $66.5 million project located on 35 acres in Rowan County.

“We are excited to continue investing in and expanding our cooperage operations in the Commonwealth of Kentucky as we support the growth of our customers,” said Brad Boswell, CEO and fourth-generation cooper. “As our fourth domestic cooperage, Commonwealth significantly expands our production capabilities which will allow us to better serve the future needs of our customers.”

Independent Stave Company - CEO Brad Boswell Speaking at the Ground Breaking for Commonwealth Cooperage in Morehead, KY
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Independent Stave Company CEO Brad Boswell Speaking at the Commonwealth Cooperage ground breaking ceremony.

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Staves for the new cooperage will be provided by Morehead Wood Products in Morehead and Benton Wood Products in Benton which are both Independent Stave Company subsidiaries. The company said Morehead was chosen as the site for Commonwealth Cooperage in large part because of the excellent work force and community support since it opened in 2015. When Commonwealth Cooperage is fully operational it will employ 200 full-time craftsmen to produce high-quality barrels for the spirits industry.

“Independent Stave is a prime example of how our state’s booming distilling industry and top-tier manufacturing sector are both creating new opportunities for Kentuckians,” Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said. “The company has shown a strong commitment to the commonwealth through robust investment and job creation across multiple regions. We are thankful to Independent Stave and greatly value their partnership with Kentucky.”

Distillers filled more than 1.7 million barrels in 2018, up from fewer than 800,000 a decade ago, according to a recent study by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. And distillers reported capital spending – such new and expanded plants and barrel warehouses of $1.1 billion during last five years. They plan to invest another $1.2 billion planned over the next five years, the study found.

With construction complete, the cooperage will become the company’s third in the state, joining its 500-employee Kentucky Cooperage in Lebanon and a used barrel cooperage in Louisville, which refurbishes and provides freshly dumped whiskey barrels to breweries and wineries. The company also employs another 120 people between the Morehead Wood Products facility and Benton Wood Products.

“With this groundbreaking, the citizens of Morehead celebrate and welcome Independent Stave Company’s $66.5 million investment and the more than 200 jobs coming to our community,” said Sen. Stephen West, of Paris. “The company’s contributions will create a lasting impact that is sure to benefit the great people of this region for years to come. Congratulations to Independent Stave on this fantastic next step.”

Morehead Mayor Laura White-Brown added, “Our community is very fortunate to have a corporate partner like Independent Stave that is committed to growing here in Morehead,” Mayor White-Brown said. “This groundbreaking marks a very positive step forward for this city and the company.”

To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in March 2018 preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $3 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.

Additionally, KEDFA approved ISC for up to $500,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.

ISC also can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives.

In addition to its US facilities in Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, the company operates facilities internationally, including in France, Australia and South America. It owns seven stave mills: one in northeastern France and six American oak mills. ISC’s growth has coincided with Kentucky’s bourbon boom.

Independent Stave Company is a family-owned cooperage company that offer products to distilleries, wineries and breweries in more than 40 countries. The Boswell family founded the company in 1912, first as a domestic supplier of staves, and today as a cooperage company crafting a wide range of barrels and oak products.

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