PSC asks for assurances in funding for Braidy project

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BOYD/GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (AP/WSAZ) -- UPDATE 11/12/18 @ 5:45 p.m.
Kentucky regulators are requiring written financial assurances for a proposed aluminum mill in eastern Kentucky.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the Public Service Commission wants written assurances from Braidy Industries that it has the money to complete the project. Company officials told investors in September they need an additional $400 million to $500 million to complete construction.

Public Service Commission spokesman Andrew Melnykovych told the newspaper the order should not be construed as an indication the project is in financial trouble. Braidy's executive vice president, Jaunique Sealey, said the order is part of the ordinary course of business to upgrade power delivery to the site.

Craig Bouchard, CEO of Braidy Industries, challenged the media reports, saying nothing is on hold at this time. He released the following statement Monday:

"We have a contract with Kentucky Power paying them millions of dollars.They are working hard with us to prepare the site at East Park. There is nothing at all on hold. Before they spend $33 million in mid-2019 we have to give them the assurance letter that is normal course for anyone they build a special transition line for. The power commission granted us a conditional approval to move forward. The tabloids on the East Coast wrote deliberately defaming headlines implying a halt or slow down/ delay. Ridiculous and deliberate. They are trying their best to harm us in their quest to unseat the governor."

The state legislature approved a $15 million investment in Braidy Industries in 2017.



UPDATE 10/17/18 @ 6:35 p.m.
A $4 million grant announced Wednesday will go toward phases of construction for developments at the East Park industrial site in Boyd and Greenup counties.

Congressman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) says the Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot Grant will fund installation of a grid of aggregate and concrete support piers and columns on a 300-acre site that will support the weight of the planned, 2.5 million square-foot, Braidy Industries aluminum rolling mill.

"The northeast region is thriving with new innovative opportunities and this grant supports Braidy Industries' plans to provide jobs to our highly skilled, readily available workforce. It also paves the way for future economic development opportunities and helps us reimagine Kentucky's Appalachian region as a major manufacturing hub," Rogers said.

The move also shows the investment leaders have in Braidy and the determination to get the facility up and running to get hundreds of good paying jobs going.

"East Park is really taking a stand to try to make sure the infrastructure in the area is ready for massive construction project, the likes that we have not seen ever in east Kentucky," said Braidy Industries Senior Vice President of Government Relations, Nathan Haney.

Haney says he also believes the further investment will prove to naysayers of Braidy's commitment to revitalizing the economy in the region.

"I understand the skepticism," Haney said. "We all do. But, please understand us that we came here for a reason, and we are building this plant for a reason. We are going to help revitalize the economy in all of east Kentucky and Appalachia. It's our number one goal."

Haney adds the company has even gotten recognition from President Trump, who mentioned the factory during a recent rally in Richmond, Kentucky.

"Braidy Industries recently broke ground on a new billion dollar aluminum mill that will create up to 1,500 right next to Ashland, Kentucky. You know where we're talking about right? Ashland," Trump said.

"It shows that we're not forgotten, and indeed we are on the president's mind, I think is a huge thing for our area," Haney said.

The aluminum factory is on track to be completed by 2020.



UPDATE 6/1/18 @ 6:40 p.m.
A company that's bringing a huge economic boost for Eastern Kentucky is starting its construction phase.

Braidy Industries broke ground Friday afternoon on its new billion dollar facility located in East Park along the Boyd and Greenup county line.

Excitement for the aluminum rolling mill has been buzzing since the company announced in April 2017 it would locate in the region.

"This is probably the greatest feeling I've had in a while, since my children were born," Greenup County Judge Executive Bobby Carpenter said. "But this is seeing everything come together that we worked so hard for and the people in Greenup and Boyd and all of this area deserve it. I'm just glad to be part of it."

Carpenter was among the guest speakers at the ceremony for the groundbreaking that brought hundreds to East Park.

The company says the construction phase will generate up to 1,800 jobs, both union and nonunion.

CEO Craig Bouchard expects many of those jobs to be locally filled.

Bouchard says the plan is to be producing aluminum by the second quarter of 2020, which will bring around 600 manufacturing jobs.

As of Friday, Bouchard says they have 6,700 applicants to fill those positions.

Some of those positions are expected to be filled by students at ACTC that will complete the specially designed two-year degree program.

Program director Michael Tackett says the first class will begin this fall.

"To know that 'hey you don't have to go somewhere else to get a job, you can come to Eastern Kentucky and get a job and a good paying job," Tackett said.

"Kids, veterans or people who want to be re-tooled can go through there, earn a B-average, be drug free every step of the way, which we're going to make happen and they graduate directly into our mill after three internships with a minimum $65,000 salary and a bonus," Bouchard said.

"What's good for Ashland is good for Huntington is good for Portsmouth," Gov. Matt Bevin said. "It really is."

Bouchard says they'll "fight the hell" out of the opioid epidemic by creating opportunity.

Bevin says this company's investment will attract other business to the area. Bevin says he's been in talks with several companies that see a vision in the region and have expressed interest in moving to the region.

Bouchard says that he is already in negotiations with roughly 10 companies that want to locate in the surrounding property.

"I feel very lucky," Bouchard said. "We found our home, and it's right here. We're not leaving."



UPDATE 6/1/18 @ 1:29 p.m.
A company that is going to bring a huge economic boost to Eastern Kentucky is breaking ground Friday.

Braidy Industries is starting work on its $1.3 billion facility -- an aluminum mill that will be at the East Park Industrial Center in Ashland.

It was a little over a year ago that the announcement was made and it's been the talk of the town ever since. The company will break ground at 1 p.m. Friday.

Governor Matt Bevin will be there for the ribbon cutting.

Officials say it's going to take a couple years to build the aluminum rolling mill, but it will come with about 550 manufacturing jobs. That's on top of the 1,000 jobs the company says the construction phase is expected to create.

The company's leader says they chose Ashland because of its skilled workforce, Kentucky's tax incentives, and low-cost electricity.

There will be a celebration in downtown Ashland Friday evening with Naomi Judd and Tanya Tucker among the entertainers.

Winchester Ave. from 14th St. to 17th St. will be blocked off for the celebration.

UPDATE 5/21/18 @ 2:50 p.m.
More details have been released about a groundbreaking for a $1.3 billion aluminum mill, including some of the headliners.

According to a news release, country music superstars Naomi Judd and Tanya Tucker will be among the entertainers at an evening celebration. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin will be among officials at the groundbreaking.

The groundbreaking will take place from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Friday, June 1 in East Park Industrial Center along the Industrial Parkway. The "One Family" celebration will happen from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. June 1 along Winchester Avenue between 14th and 18th streets.

Braidy Industries will produce 500,000 annual tons of aluminum sheets for the automotive and aerospace industries.



UPDATE 5/19/18 @ 3:40 p.m.
Construction will begin soon on a billion dollar aluminum mill in Boyd County.

Braidy Industries CEO, Craig T. Bouchard says the project will break ground on June 1 at the company's location in East Park along the Industrial Parkway.

First announced in April 2017, the construction phase will create about 1,000 jobs, on top of about 550 manufacturing jobs once the mill gets going.

Construction is expected to take a couple years, with anticipated completion not until 2020.

"I would like to take this opportunity to encourage a sense of patience as well as excitement about our collective future," said Bouchard in a post on social media. "The mill will not magically appear over night. It will take a couple of years to build 45 acres under roof with a half billion dollars of brand new equipment inside."

Since the mill was announced, it has moved locations from originally set for development in South Shore to the more stable area in East Park.

Bouchard says after the groundbreaking there will be a celebration event in downtown Ashland that evening.



UPDATE 10/19/17 @ 6:55 p.m.
A new location for billion dollar business, Braidy Industries has been determined after the land on the original site for the aluminum factory was deemed not strong enough to support the facility.

Announced in April, the factory was expected to bring around 550 jobs to Greenup County near South Shore, but now those jobs will shift closer to Boyd County in East Park along the Industrial Parkway.

Construction is expected to start in the first quarter of 2018.

"I would have preferred to have had it in South Shore," said Greenup County Judge Executive Robert "Bobby" Carpenter. "But that didn't work and thank God we had a second plan. A Plan B that worked and we saved the jobs. They're still going to be in Greenup County and now Boyd."

Carpenter says he understands the disappointment people in South Shore may have after learning the news of the relocation. Many were excited for the economic impact the business would bring. But Carpenter says they're not giving up hope on the property Braidy was originally on.

"We're gonna still market that property in South Shore. It just won't be as heavy. There's going to be 16-18 companies that follow Braidy and they're gonna maybe not need the big heavy foundation that they're gonna have."

Carpenter says development on a concrete plant in Wurtland is also on schedule. That company is expected to bring about 130 jobs.

Meanwhile in Boyd County, officials are excited to see a larger piece of the economic pie.

"When East Park was developed that was what we thought would happen," said Nickie Smith with Boyd County Economic Development. "Then the economy went down and everything sort of shut down, but I think with Braidy coming, we will sell the rest of the property."

The property in East Park is construction ready and has even been deemed a quality site by AEP.

Smith says she hopes to see further development along the Industrial Parkway as well with the news. She says the move opens up the possibility of gas stations and restaurants to open along the route.

Smith says the new location could also make it easier for people living in nearby Carter, Elliott, Lawrence, and Rowan Counties to apply for the jobs.



UPDATE 4/26/17 @ 1:30 p.m.
WURTLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A $1.3 billion aluminum mill will be built in Greenup County.

Braidy Industries Inc. will build the mill and create 550 manufacturing jobs to produce sheet and plate aluminum for the automotive and aerospace industries.

"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," said Gov. Matt Bevin.

"It will result in a ripple effect," Bevin said during a news conference. "It will touch so many of us beyond what we can even imagine because it will begin to attract the very people who use this product. There is land up here, there is accessibility ... you've got the highway, you've got the railyard, you've got the airport and you've got the river literally within a stone's throw one from the next."

Bevin says other companies have already shown interest in the area and believes now even more companies will want to locate to eastern Kentucky.

"You are going to see people that produce things with this material come to the region, it will be transformative," Bevin said.

The 2.5 million square foot aluminum mill will be built near South Shore. Officials say it will be the lowest cost, highest quality aluminum mill in the United States.

"It will be the most modern, most efficient mill of its kind in America," Bevin said.

The company expects construction to begin in early 2018, with completion scheduled for 2020. Construction will create about 1,000 jobs.

Braidy Industries CEO Craig Bouchard says the company would not be locating in Greenup County if Kentucky had not become a right-to-work state.

"If Kentucky was not a right-to-work state, you wouldn't have gotten on the list because it's so important to us," Bouchard said.

Bouchard says Braidy was choosing between 24 cities in two states. He says the governor's office provided Braidy with a list of cities in Kentucky and that the company ultimately chose South Shore in Greenup County, with Boyd County "right next door."

"This was the place in the United State that I thought we could get the most highly-skilled, devoted employees." Bouchard said.

Bouchard was quick to sing Bevin's praises.

"He's building the state back," Bouchard said.

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

According to a release, the average wage of workers in the new facility will be about $70,000 per year.

Bouchard says the employees are going to love going to work everyday. The roles will include benefits, health facilties and athletic faciltiies on-site and training.

Bouchard says Braidy Industries is already working with Kentucky's junior college system to develop an associate's degree that will allow students to intern in the mill and immediately begin work upon graduation.

Greenup County Economic Development Director, Bobby Allen, says this is an incredible opportunity for the area that has been struggling since Ashland Oil left and AK Steel underwent massive layoffs.

"We've had hard times with layoffs and seen people have to move away to find work," Allen told WSAZ. "Well now this is going to be an opportunity where the work finds us."



ORIGINAL STORY 4/25/17
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Republican Gov. Matt Bevin says he will announce a project that will bring jobs to struggling eastern Kentucky.

Bevin has scheduled a news conference at the McConnell House in Wurtland at 1 p.m. Wednesday. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority has also called a special meeting at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday to consider incentives for a project in Greenup County.

On the final day of the legislative session, state lawmakers agreed to let Bevin borrow up to $15 million to land a mystery project in eastern Kentucky.

Bevin promised lawmakers the company would invest up to $1.3 billion and create 500 jobs with an average salary of $75,000 per year. It passed without a dissenting vote.



 
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