Plant May Attract Several Companies

 The Herald-Dispatch

Plant May Attract Several Companies

ASHLAND – Braidy Industries’ decision to build its planned aluminum plant in EastPark industrial center off Interstate 64 west of Ashland is expected to lead to 16 to 24 satellite companies heading to the Tri-State and possibly filling up the industrial park’s available land, according to local officials.

Earlier this month, Braidy Industries announced it was changing its plan to build its $1.4 billion aluminum plant in South Shore, Kentucky, near the Ohio River, to EastPark, a nearly 1,000-acre industrial park where Boyd, Greenup and Carter counties come together.

“It’s a certified site,” said Tim Gibbs, executive director of the Ashland Alliance, the chamber group representing Boyd and Greenup counties. “It’s the reason EastPark was so attractive. We’ve done our due diligence.”

Braidy did core drilling last week at a 200-plus-acre site near the Technology Drive Campus of Ashland Community & Technical College and H.T. Hackney wholesalers.

“We’re hoping to get the land closing completed in the next 30 days,” Gibbs said. “It’s going well. They still plan to break ground around the end of the first quarter in 2018. It’s completely doable.”

The project should mean about 1,000 construction jobs and about 550 permanent jobs. It will take about 27 months to build the aluminum plant.

“Everything looks good so far,” said Nickie Smith, chairwoman of EastPark’s board of directors. “They’re talking about buying 207 acres from us. They may need some more land. It includes the 110,000-square-foot shell building adjacent to Hackney. They may use it for storage.”

The shell building has stood idle for the past 12 years as EastPark officials looked for a company to locate there. EastPark now could be looking at running out of usable land, Smith said.

The industrial park started with about 990 acres more than a dozen years ago, Smith said. Of that, about 690 acres were developable, she said. If the sale to Braidy is completed, the industrial park will have about 200 acres left, she said. About half the land set aside for Braidy is located in Boyd County, with the other half in Greenup County, she said.

“They’re talking about having 47 acres under roof,” Smith said.

The project is so big that 16 to 24 satellite companies could end up locating in the area, Smith said.

“They all can’t fit into EastPark,” she said.

The Braidy project could require some expansion of water service to the site, Gibbs said. Ashland has about 12 million gallons of excess water daily, he said.

“This will be the anchor for more businesses to come” to the Tri-State, Gibbs said.

City Manager Mike Graese said the city is doing an analysis right now to determine what it needs to provide more water to EastPark.

“We have the line capacity,” he said. “We’ll probably have to add one pump. We plan to work hand and glove with them to keep those jobs in the Tri-State.”

“We’re extremely pleased with Braidy and their interest in this region,” said Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corp. “I think they’ll employ lots of Lawrence County residents.”

He is looking for spinoff jobs in the aerospace and car manufacturing industries.

“I think more and more auto manufacturers are moving to aluminum,” Dingus said. Braidy locating in the Tri-State “is a very positive move.”

Braidy had to move from South Shore due to soil problems at the site.

“They have machinery that weighs some 100 tons,” Gibbs said earlier.

From the Kentucky Association of Riverports, the Greenup-Boyd County Riverport Authority (Greenup-Boyd) was established in 2001 by the legislative bodies of Greenup and Boyd Counties. The operating port facility is located on the Ohio River at river mile 332, on the left descending bank. The property is in the City of Wurtland (population 1,051 in 2006). Greenup and Boyd counties had a combined population of 86,745 in 2006.