LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The founder and CEO of a company planning a $1.3 billion aluminum rolling mill in the northeastern corner of Kentucky said Thursday he wants the plan to put 3,000 families back to work and guarantee them a future.
Craig Bouchard was the guest of Gov. Matt Bevin at the Governor’s Local Issues Conference here at the Galt House Thursday, sitting for an interview before attendees conducted by Bevin.
At Bevin’s urging, the General Assembly approved $10 million in tax incentives and a $15 million stock investment in Braidy Industries to lure the plant to East Park in Greenup County.
But Bouchard told Bevin and the crowd on hand Thursday, including an ebullient Greenup County Judge/Executive Bobby Carpenter, that he envisions a plant where highly skilled workers will earn high wages and bonuses and help create a state-of-the-art rolling mill.
Bouchard said he will pay those employees $60,000 a year on average and will share with them 5 percent of company profits in the form of annual Christmas bonuses.
Then, referencing news stories questioning the $15 million stock investment and $10 million in tax breaks by the state, Bouchard said, “That’s my incentive back to Kentucky.”
Bevin told the crowd Bouchard would not have considered Kentucky had the legislature not passed right-to-work legislation in the spring. Bouchard, at the time he announced the plant in May, also said that was a critical factor, but he didn’t mention it Thursday.
He said he received “24 fantastic offers” from states and communities seeking to become home to the plant but said Greenup County officials were fully prepared with a site ready to occupy when he arrived to scout out the location. He also credited Bevin for his efforts to sell Kentucky to Bouchard and Braidy.
Braidy has already received 3,500 applications for the 600 or so jobs at the plant and Bouchard said the company will break ground on the site in April.
Bouchard said the local public schools and programs at Ashland Community Technical College made the area attractive to him, his executives and employees.
He said Braidy will partner with the community college to offer a “Braidy Certificate” with a two-year degree, which will guarantee graduates a job and a $65,000 salary, and he said the company plans also to partner with Morehead State University in the future.
Bouchard said the reaction by locals is gratifying.
“There is no word to describe the welcome we’ve received in Eastern Kentucky,” Bouchard said.” It’s astounding.”