Ashland Alliance

Bevin Expected to Announce New Aluminum Plant with Hundreds of Jobs on Wednesday

FRANKFORT, KY

Gov. Matt Bevin is expected to announce Wednesday that an aluminum manufacturing plant will bring hundreds of new jobs to Wurtland, an Ohio River town of about 995 in Greenup County.

Bevin scheduled a 1 p.m. news conference Wednesday in Wurtland to announce “an economic development project that will positively impact Kentucky’s eastern region.”

 

He declined to provide details but a state senator said the announcement will involve an aluminum manufacturing plant locating at a riverport industrial site in Greenup County.

WHAS-AM in Louisville reported Tuesday that Bevin said Monday night during a speech in New York to an investors’ group that he would announce a $1.3 billion economic development project Wednesday in Kentucky.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority, which considers state incentives for economic development projects, has called a special meeting for 12:30 p.m. Wednesday via video conference to consider a project in Greenup County.

State Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, said in a phone interview that he understands the project will be an aluminum manufacturing plant. “It will be a great asset to the people of that area,” he said.

Buford said such plants use a great deal of energy. “I wonder if maybe the state will have incentives for a power plant to go along with this,” he asked.

In the final hours of this year’s legislative session, which ended March 30, Bevin successfully asked lawmakers to approve up to $15 million for a “mystery” economic development project in Eastern Kentucky.

At the time, House Majority Leader Jonathan Shell, R-Lancaster, said it would provide 1,000 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs with an average annual salary of $75,000.

Northeastern Kentucky has been devastated by job losses in recent years: there have been hundreds of layoffs at Ashland’s AK Steel, Ashland Oil moved its headquarters from Ashland to Cincinnati in 1999, and more than half of the coal mining jobs in nearby counties have been lost.

In February, the unemployment rate for the area was 6.4 percent, compared to the state average of 5 percent.

Earlier this month, the Republican governor helped announce a $1.33 billion investment by Toyota in its Georgetown manufacturing plant. Toyota is eligible for $43.5 million in state economic development incentives for the project, though it isn’t expected to increase employment at the plant.

In January, Bevin announced a $1.5 billion Amazon air hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. That project, which is expected to eventually employ 600 full-time workers and 1,400 part-time workers, is eligible for $40 million in tax incentives.

BY JACK BRAMMER | jbrammer@herald-leader.com

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