Kentucky continues attracting new business investment as Rajant Corp., the provider of Kinetic Mesh® wireless networks, plans a $2 million relocation and expansion project in Rowan County expected to create 26 additional full-time jobs in the coming years.
“It’s great to see innovative companies growing and reinvesting in the commonwealth creating more good-paying jobs for Kentuckians,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “Our strong higher education system – with many specialized programs that prepare Kentuckians to work in key industries – helps attract new jobs and foster continued investment. It’s imperative that we continue to attract and grow higher-skill, well-paying careers for Kentuckians while providing the means to educate and train for those positions.”
Rajant, which opened its Rowan County operation five years ago, plans to move from its current 9,600-square-foot facility on Main Street in Morehead to a nearby 48,000-square-foot spec building located on nearly 15 acres in the MMRC Industrial Park. The expansion will assist in the company’s effort to extend the production of products and services with further capabilities, including artificial intelligence (AI), while also improving its commercial and military product lines. The company currently employs 24 people in Morehead, including designers, engineers, service technicians and assemblers, many of whom graduated from Morehead State University’s Space Engineering Program.
“Rajant was originally attracted to Kentucky due to aerospace advances and more specifically to the Morehead State University Space Science Center, which was brought to our attention by U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers. Rajant’s five-year experience of excellence with the university and within the Morehead business community warrants expansion,” said Robert Schena, Rajant co-founder and CEO.
“The opportunity to increase our manufacturing footprint in Rowan County and hire more local talent is a testament to the resources Kentucky has to offer. The region’s workforce is exceptional for its integrity, drive and enthusiasm. For Rajant’s purposes, we are fortifying continued technology innovations with engineering graduates from Morehead State University and hiring other support personnel to increase the production of goods and services for our global customers. Our investment to build a facility here will not only serve our manufacturing growth, but it will keep Kentucky residents at home with their families and neighbors.”
Rep. Rogers said Rajant has set a high standard for high-tech job creation in the region.
“Rajant Corporation is raising the bar for innovative, high-tech job opportunities in Eastern Kentucky. To see Rajant’s footprint expand five times larger than it began just five years ago, is a testament to the incredible workforce and competitive college graduates we have in Kentucky’s Appalachian region,” Rep. Rogers said. “This expansion also offers a renewed sense of hope as we work across federal, state and local levels to help businesses recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Rajant began operations in 2001 in Malvern, Penn., and since developed dozens of products and technologies leveraging the company’s patented InstaMesh® routing protocols. The technology facilitates mobile communications in some of the world’s harshest and demanding environments. Rajant currently operates under contract with U.S. Department of Defense contractors to build the next generation of wireless communications for voice, data, video and other applications. The company’s commercial markets include mining, ports, transportation, oil and gas, public safety and agriculture, among other industrial applications. Rajant currently employs nearly 120 people across three U.S. locations.
State Sen. Stephen West, of Paris, said the presence of Morehead State University is proving to be a strong resource with regard to economic development.
“This investment by Rajant Corporation is much-welcomed news as our state looks to recover from the effects COVID-19,” Sen. West said. “I think this expansion is a testament to what Kentucky has to offer in innovation and technology, and I commend Morehead State University for continuing to set a high standard. The university is producing some of the brightest minds in the field, helping make the commonwealth a select destination for this type of investment. I appreciate the efforts of all who made this possible for Rowan County.”
State Rep. Richard White, of Morehead, said the investment could generate even more growth in the years ahead.
“It is imperative now more than ever that businesses continue to invest in Kentucky. This expansion will provide new opportunities with higher-paying jobs for Rowan County residents and surrounding communities,” Rep. White said. “I look forward to seeing how Rajant’s investment will further accelerate and impact economic growth in Eastern Kentucky.”
Morehead Mayor Laura White-Brown said she is happy to see Rajant commit to the local workforce.
“Rajant has been a great corporate citizen since opening in Morehead in 2015, and I am glad the company will remain in Rowan County for this expansion,” Mayor White-Brown said. “I hope to see even more job opportunities for our local workforce as the company continues to grow.”
Rowan County Judge-Executive Harry Clark said Rajant embodies the type of business that can greatly benefit from the local skilled workforce.
“I am looking forward to Rajant beginning operations at its new location and appreciate the job growth associated with this project,” Judge-Executive Clark said. “Rajant represents the type of high-tech industry we want to attract to Rowan County, and I wish the company well in the years ahead.”
Bob Helton, executive director of the Morehead Rowan County Economic Development Council, said officials will continue to look to attract high-tech jobs to the region.
“The success of Rajant in Morehead reflects the strength of our skilled workforce and our community’s ability to support high-tech companies,” Helton said. “I can’t wait to see how the company continues to grow in the future.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) on May 28 preliminarily approved a 15-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $300,000 in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $2 million and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 26 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 15 years
- Paying an average hourly wage of $25 including benefits across those jobs
By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.
Additionally, KEDFA approved Rajant for up to $50,000 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.
In addition, Rajant 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.