Manchester, in Clay County, is under consideration for a large manufacturing plant that would turn household garbage into building materials, according to the mayor and the state Economic Development Cabinet.
WNT LLC, which stands for Waste Not Technologies, estimated in an application for tax incentives that the project would create 1,411 jobs, according to a summary provided to the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority.
There's no guarantee that the giant plant will come to Clay County, but Manchester Mayor Carmen Webb Lewis said she's excited about the potential.
"It's almost too good to even be true," Lewis said Monday. "It's a big dream, but it would be awesome."
How awesome? The unemployment rate in Clay County, at 13.5 percent, is well above the state average. The most recent U.S. Census estimates put the county's 2007 poverty rate — the percentage of residents who live below the poverty line — at more than three times the national level, and estimates its median household income at $20,999, compared to $50,740 nationally.
The estimated wages at the factory would be $10 to $20 an hour, WNT told the state.
There wouldn't be enough workers in Clay County to fill all the jobs projected at the complex, local officials said, so it would provide work for people from surrounding counties.
In its application for incentives, WNT said it would spend $150 million to build and equip an 800,000-square-foot complex to turn municipal solid waste into "eco-friendly products," according to the summary.
The plant would produce insulation, ground-up glass to use in building roads, and other materials, Lewis said.
Lewis said she has been talking with a company representative off and on since last year.
The city has identified a site for the plant in Manchester where there once was a coal tipple, and it has taken an option on the property, Lewis said.
The company said it needed 230 acres altogether. The site under consideration in Y Hollow has 500 acres, Lewis said.
There is a regional industrial park a few miles outside Manchester on U.S. 421. The chairman of the authority that owns it, deputy Clay County Judge-Executive Terry Harmon, said he had not heard of the proposal by WNT LLC.
Lewis said that site wasn't under consideration because it doesn't have rail access.
Lewis said WNT has looked at other sites in Kentucky, and perhaps in other states as well. However, the state's approval for tax incentives for the company listed Clay County as the location for the project.
It's not clear whether WNT is looking at locations in other states. No one representing the company responded to a request for information Monday.
The state approved WNT for as much as $42 million in tax incentives.