Braidy Industries plans aluminum mill, 550 jobs in northeastern - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Braidy Industries plans aluminum mill, 550 jobs in northeastern Kentucky

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WURTLAND, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Delaware-based metals company is planning to build a $1.3 billion aluminum mill in northeastern Kentucky that will hire hundreds of workers, supplying the automotive and aerospace industries.

Gov. Matt Bevin and executives from Braidy Industries Inc. made the announcement Wednesday in Greenup County, where the company would create 550 manufacturing jobs that expect to pay $38 per hour including benefits.

It would need to hire 367 full-time Kentucky workers to qualify for $10 million in tax incentives approved at a special meeting of the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority on Wednesday. 

The project also promises an influx of jobs in a county with an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent in February -- nearly twice as high as the Kentucky rate of 4.9 percent.

"Braidy Industries’ decision to locate in Eastern Kentucky has the potential to be as significant as any economic deal ever made in the history of Kentucky," Bevin said in a statement.

Braidy chairman and CEO Craig Bouchard said his company looked at 24 locations before settling on one near South Shore, a town of about 1,100 on the Ohio River.

"This was the place I thought we could get the most highly skilled, devoted employees," he said.

Louisville was among a number of sites in Kentucky that the company explored, according to sources familiar with the process.

That would have put a mill in close proximity to Ford Motor Company's Louisville Assembly Plant on Fern Valley Road and Kentucky Truck Plant on Chamberlain Lane. But the company wanted a large site -- more than 200 acres -- with river barge and railroad access, sources said.

The sources said company officials looked at a site in Riverport -- the only Jefferson County location large enough to accommodate its needs -- but ultimately decided the configuration of the property in southwestern Jefferson County wasn’t optimal.

Bouchard said Kentucky was a candidate for the plant because of its new right to work law, which gives workers the right not to pay union dues even while receiving the benefits of collective bargaining. The Republican-controlled legislature approved the changes during the first week of the 2017 session -- its first with full control of both the House and the Senate.

"Today’s announcement is proof that the pro-business legislation we passed in Kentucky this year is working," House Speaker Jeff Hoover said in a prepared statement. He noted that since lawmakers approved a right-to-work bill, the state has landed several investments creating thousands of new jobs.

"This particular development is just the beginning of a revitalization of Eastern Kentucky, and I’m incredibly proud to lead the New Majority that implemented the new, pro-business environment in our state," Hoover said.

The state had been ranked with a top 10 business climate by Site Selection magazine earlier this year, as well as during the administration of former Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat. 

Construction on the Greenup County plant is expected to begin in early 2018, with completion in 2020. Officials say construction will create about 1,000 jobs.

Plans call for a 2.5 million-square-foot aluminum mill on more than 300 acres. The average wage of workers in the new facility will be about $70,000 per year, according to Bevin's office.

The announcement is the second in recent weeks in Kentucky's manufacturing sector. Earlier this month Toyota said it plans to spend $1.3 billion to upgrade its Georgetown factory, although no new jobs are expected.

Initially, the Greenup County facility would produce about 370,000 tons of aluminum per year for the automotive and aerospace industries, with opportunities to expand over time.

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