ASHLAND, Ky. – At the ceremonial start of construction on the $1.5 billion, 600-job Braidy Industries aluminum rolling mill near Ashland, Gov. Matt Bevin joined elected officials and business leaders in hailing the project as the economic comeback of Eastern Kentucky and a direct result of the state’s right-to-work legislation.
“Today is a landmark day for the commonwealth, as we celebrate the official commencement of this monumental project in Eastern Kentucky,” Gov. Bevin said. “This is one of the most substantial investments ever made in our state, and the additional opportunities unleashed by the arrival of Braidy Industries have extraordinary potential. The initial 1,000 construction jobs, followed by 600 high-paying, permanent jobs, together with the overall, morale-boosting impact this company will have on the entire region, will transform the economic landscape of Eastern Kentucky for generations to come. We are grateful to Braidy Industries for its decision to locate in Kentucky, and we look forward to nurturing a strong corporate partnership in the years ahead.”
The groundbreaking comes two and a half years after AK Steel laid off more than 600 workers from its Ashland Works plant. As well, it follows three decades of overall decline in Eastern Kentucky coal jobs, a workforce Braidy intends to tap.
The 1.8 million-square-foot facility will rise from more than 240 acres in the EastPark industrial center near Ashland. As scheduled to open in 2020, the mill’s production capacity could reach 300,000 tons of aluminium alloy sheet and plate a year, mainly for the automotive industry. Opportunities for future production expansion exist, as well as plans to supply the aerospace and defense industries.
Employees at the new facility will earn an average salary of about $70,000 a year. The company plans to provide low-cost healthy meals, a day care, fitness center and other amenities to create an employee-friendly workplace.
Craig T. Bouchard, Braidy Industries CEO and board chairman, said the project’s scope includes far more than aluminum production.
“On behalf of the Braidy Industries Board of Directors and our employees, I wish to thank the Governor and the people of Northeastern Kentucky for the special welcome we receive every day,” Bouchard said. “Our goal is to rebuild Appalachia with technology. But, successful tech companies are not just about advances utilizing robots and artificial intelligence. They are about people and creating a winning culture. We found a home in the greatest place in the United States, full of talented and hard-working individuals. We need all of them to help. We will succeed together, as one family.”
Bouchard, a seasoned executive with a distinguished track record in banking, software development, aluminum and steel manufacturing, founded Braidy Industries prior to the announcement of the project in 2017. He chose Eastern Kentucky for its strengths as a location for metal production as well as to spearhead an economic revival in the region. Bouchard’s team includes experts in the aluminum industry, metallurgical research, international business and a range of other disciplines.
He said the Kentucky General Assembly’s passage and Gov. Bevin’s signing of right-to-work legislation in January 2017 put the state in the running for the mill.
US Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell noted the impact Braidy’s arrival will have on the local workforce.
“Braidy Industries is tapping into the incredible potential of workers in Eastern Kentucky, and I would like to congratulate them for breaking ground on this new facility,” Sen. McConnell said. “By reinvesting in Kentucky’s workers and communities, they’re encouraging an economic revival in the heart of Appalachia. A rush of economic optimism is sweeping the nation, and I am proud of its impact here in the commonwealth.”
US Sen. Rand Paul said Braidy will stand as a central piece of Eastern Kentucky’s future economy.
“This is wonderful news for Greenup County and the surrounding communities, and Braidy Industries’ selection of this location is a true testament to the hard-working Kentuckians who reside there,” Sen. Paul said. “Given the negative effects felt by this area following the recent closing of AK Steel, this project holds great promise to be a crucial part of the Ashland area’s future economic development, and I look forward to the chance for Eastern Kentucky to reap the economic benefits and job creation made possible by this opportunity.”
US Rep. Hal Rogers heralded the day’s events as a major effort in rebuilding and diversifying the region’s economy.
“It’s an exciting day in Eastern Kentucky, as we welcome Braidy Industries and the new wave of economic opportunities it represents for our region,” Congressman Rogers said. “The decision for Braidy Industries to plant roots in Eastern Kentucky is a testament to our incredibly skilled workforce and strong public-private partnerships at the local, state and federal levels. These new jobs bring our revitalization and job training efforts full circle as we continue to diversify our economic portfolio and expand innovative opportunities in Eastern Kentucky.”
Sen. Robin Webb, of Grayson, said Braidy is a welcome addition to the region that could spearhead even greater growth in the years ahead.
“Northeast Kentucky welcomes Braidy Industries to our region, where our world-class workforce is ready to contribute to economic progress,” Sen. Webb said. “We have seen decline in coal, river, rail and steel in recent history, but Braidy is poised to be a catalyst in our economic recovery. We appreciate the executive branch and our local partners working with the legislative branch in partnership to make this happen. I am proud to have been a part of bringing Braidy Industries to our region from the start and know it is the beginning of great things for Northeast Kentucky.
Rep. Danny Bentley, of Russell, said over time Braidy’s impact will grow to that of the commonwealth’s most recognized companies.
“It is a tremendous day for Ashland, Greenup County, Boyd County and all of Kentucky,” Rep. Bentley said. “This great facility will provide hundreds of jobs for generations to come and will begin a new era of economic vitality for Eastern Kentucky. I’m very excited for the people of Kentucky. Ten or 20 years from now, I’m confident that Braidy Industries will join Toyota, Yum! Brands and other companies that bring so many opportunities to the people of Kentucky.”
Rep. Kevin Sinnette, of Ashland, spoke on the magnitude of the project and his eagerness to see the facility begin operation.
“It is difficult to put in words just how important this groundbreaking is for our corner of the commonwealth,” Rep. Sinnette said. “I want to thank Braidy Industries’ leaders for investing so much in our community and especially our workforce, which will prove once again that it is second to none. I also appreciate the hard word of our local and state leaders for helping the company get to this point. As far as I’m concerned, the ribbon cutting for the facility about to be built can’t come soon enough.”
Ashland Mayor Steve Gilmore said the company could make a big difference for local families.
“Braidy Industries represents hope and growth for all of Northeast Kentucky,” Mayor Gilmore said. “We are proud Braidy has located their worldwide headquarters in Ashland, Kentucky and look forward to continuing the partnerships that have led to this project.”
Greenup County Judge-Executive Bobby Carpenter said a project of this magnitude was decades in the making.
“I have waited 24 years for a project like this to come to Greenup County, Ky.,” Judge-Executive Carpenter said. “This project and what will follow will change our county for generations to come. This is a great day for Greenup County and Northeast Kentucky.”
Boyd County Judge-Executive Steve Towler said landing the project required multiple communities working together toward a shared goal.
“I am proud of the role Boyd County has played in Braidy Industries,” Judge-Executive Towler said. “This is a great example of what can happen when people and the region work together for the good of all concerned. This project will make a difference for generations to come in Boyd County and our region.”
Tim Gibbs, president and CEO of Ashland Alliance, said the arrival of Braidy signifies an impact much greater than the arrival of a new business.
“Braidy Industries has brought hope to the region,” Gibbs said. “It proves this region can compete and win. It shows how the people of Northeast Kentucky, working together, can and will build a new future for all.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in April 2017 preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $10 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. Braidy was approved for incentives based on a $1.3 billion investment and the creation of 550 full-time jobs, figures that have both increased since the initial announcement, according to the company. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
Additionally, KEDFA and the Kentucky Economic Development Partnership Board in April 2017 voted to provide $15 million for a direct investment in Braidy by Commonwealth Seed Capital LLC (CSC) and its board of directors. CSC will use returns on the investment to fund future investments in qualifying Kentucky startups, supporting future economic development in the commonwealth, job growth and early stage Kentucky companies.
Braidy 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 fiscal year 2017, the Kentucky Skills Network provided training for more than 120,000 Kentuckians and 5,700 companies from a variety of industry sectors.
For more information on Braidy Industries, visit BraidyIndustries.com.
Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ThinkKentucky or follow on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/ThinkKentucky. Watch the Cabinet’s “This is My Kentucky” video on YouTube.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency responsible for encouraging new jobs and investment in the state. New capital investment announced in Kentucky in 2017 totaled a state record $9.2 billion, spurring more than 17,200 projected new jobs. Information on available industrial properties, workforce development assistance, incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other economic development resources is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com.