Eastern Kentucky Lands $1.3B Aluminum Plant

The 2.5 million-square-foot facility is slated to break ground in early 2018. The Ashland area beat out 23 other potential locations.

Braidy Industries Kentucky Aluminum Mill
Braidy Industries Kentucky Aluminum Mill

Braidy Industries Inc. has picked a 380-acre site along the Ohio River in Greenup County, Ky., to build a $1.3 billion aluminum plant that is expected to bring over 500 manufacturing jobs to Eastern Kentucky by 2020.

Groundbreaking on the 2.5 million-square-foot plant is expected to begin in early 2018. The aluminum plant, the nation’s first Greenfield aluminum rolling mill in over three decades, will produce sheet and plate for the automotive and aerospace industries and the U.S. Department of Defense.

This week, the new firm headed by CEO Craig Bouchard announced its corporate headquarters has opened at 1544 Winchester Ave. in the Community Trust Building in Ashland, Ky. Bouchard also released the names of the company’s executive management team that will oversee construction of the plant and operation of the company that aims to be a low-cost provider of 370,000 annual tons of aluminum sheet and plate that will be shipped to customers in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Among the top company officials are (Ret.) U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Blaine Holt, who was named executive vice president of operations, and Thomas Modrowski, executive vice president of construction and facilities.

Jobs created

Plans for the aluminum mill, which is expected to create 1,000 construction jobs and over 500 permanent manufacturing positions, were announced in late April with local and state officials led by Gov. Matt Bevin in attendance. The plant could be eligible for up to $25 million in state incentives, including $10 million in tax breaks if it meets certain investments and job targets over the next 15 years.

“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 prepared statement. “The ripple effect of this investment will be significant and will produce positive change in the region for generations to come.”

The Ashland area beat out 23 other potential locations for the plant.

“From our location in Greenup County we can import, and reach the majority of our customers in the U. S. same-day by water, rail or highway. The cost advantages are stunning,” Bouchard said in a prepared statement.

Michael Porter, a professor at Harvard Business School and global expert on competiveness and economic development who helped scout locations for the plant, also cited Eastern Kentucky’s proximity to leading automotive and aerospace customers, low energy costs and a skilled and available workforce for heavy manufacturing.

The state is home to two Ford Motor Co. vehicle assembly plants in Louisville as well as a Toyota plant in Georgetown, Ky., and General Motors’ Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Ky., which could be customers for the aluminum generated at the Braidy mill. Toyota made manufacturing news this year as well when it announced in April that its 7.5 million-square-foot Georgetown plant would be getting a record $1.3 billion in improvements to retool the facility to begin producing vehicles with a streamlined production process.

Image courtesy of Braidy Industries