State

State continues to invest millions in Eastern Kentucky aluminum mill

‘Just the beginning:’ Bevin speaks at Braidy Industries groundbreaking

Gov. Matt Bevin speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony near Ashland for Braidy Industries, a proposed aluminum mill touted as a key player in the diversification of Eastern Kentucky’s economy.
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Gov. Matt Bevin speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony near Ashland for Braidy Industries, a proposed aluminum mill touted as a key player in the diversification of Eastern Kentucky’s economy.

A proposed $1.68 billion aluminum mill near Ashland will be the de facto recipient of a $4 million Abandoned Mine Lands grant for site preparation, officials announced Wednesday.

The grant, awarded by Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet, will be used to build a grid of concrete support piers and columns at the site of the proposed Braidy Industries mill, according to a press release from the cabinet.

Braidy Industries has promised 600 jobs at an average annual salary of $70,000, and hopes to open its doors in 2020.

The company received an usual $15 million capital investment from the state in May 2017, along with preliminary approval for $10 million in tax incentives.

The state investment makes all Kentucky taxpayers partial owners of the company, and the state could request repayment for that money if Braidy fails to invest $1 billion in its mill by 2020, or if it fails to have at least half of its employees working in Kentucky.

SEC documents filed by Braidy Industries last month showed the company still needs $400 to $500 million of capital before it can begin construction.

A Braidy Industries spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, whose district includes much of Eastern Kentucky, said the grant “paves the way for future economic development opportunities and helps us reimagine Kentucky’s Appalachian region as a major manufacturing hub.”

Rogers, along with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, have worked to secure $80 million in federal funding for Kentucky through the AML Pilot Program since 2016, according to the cabinet press release.

The grant to help Braidy’s site preparation will be awarded to EastPark Industrial Park, a joint venture between Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Greenup and Lawrence counties. The park currently hosts companies that employ more than 1,000 people, according to the press release.

According to the company’s SEC filings, the cost of the mill has jumped at least $300 million since April last year, from $1.3 billion to nearly $1.7 billion.

Jaunique Sealey, Braidy’s executive vice president of business development, told the Herald-Leader last month that the company is still optimistic about the success of the project.

It has already pre-sold its first seven years of production, she said, though, according to the SEC filings, none of those potential buyers are contractually obligated to buy Braidy’s product.

Officials have touted the project as a major step toward a more diverse economy in Eastern Kentucky and a potential employer for hundreds of Kentuckians.

“Kentucky is well on its way toward becoming the nation’s engineering and manufacturing center of excellence,” Gov. Matt Bevin said in a press release. “The $4 million will accelerate that progress, by helping to transform the economy, workforce, and communities in the Northeast region of our state.”

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