Kentucky recoups $15 million investment from failed mill project

Published 3:36 pm Thursday, September 29, 2022

Kentucky has recovered a $15 million state investment in a failed aluminum mill project that sat undeveloped for five years.

Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday the state is also in the process of having the 200-plus acre site returned in the form of a donation from the company that was seeking to build a massive aluminum mill in northeastern Kentucky. Beshear said other companies are already showing interest in developing the site.

“My promise to the people of the Ashland region is when we make an announcement, it’s going to be real, the jobs are going to be real and it’s going to be really exciting for the community,” Beshear said during an afternoon media briefing. “This is a better outcome than I ever thought possible.”

The project was announced by former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin amid great fanfare in 2017. The former company, Braidy Industries, had pledged to create 550 full-time mill jobs in an Appalachian region in dire need of employment opportunities.

Bevin persuaded lawmakers to approve the state’s $15 million investment. But Braidy, later renamed Unity, struggled to complete financing for the project and the company underwent a high-profile management shakeup.

In January, state lawmakers prodded the company to push forward with the project, and proposed a bill that would recoup the state’s investment.

The agreement announced Thursday includes the 205-acre site and a 100,000-square-foot building. That property will be donated back to the local industrial authority for free, Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Jeff Noel said.