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Editorial: Braidy Industries project in Kentucky shows value of ready industrial sites

Braidy Industries’ plan to build a $1.4 billion aluminum plant in Northeast Kentucky developed a hiccup when the company learned that the soil makeup at its selected site in South Shore, Kentucky, wasn’t adequate to support the necessary heavy machinery.

Fortunately, the company and state and local officials came up with an alternate site, which may prove to be better not only for Braidy Industries but for economic development in the immediate Tri-State region.

The new site is in EastPark Industrial Center, located about two miles north of Interstate 64 where Boyd, Greenup and Carter counties come together. The industrial park is certified ready for development, and Braidy Industries plans to locate on 200-plus acres for the massive plant, which will have about 47 of those acres under roof.

From a transportation standpoint, the new location may be better than the former one, what with an interstate highway just a couple of miles away. That’s important because officials say the plant may generate traffic of up to 200 trucks per day. The site has rail access and also river access nearby, although not as close as what was available at the South Shore site. The new location also is nearer Huntington Tri-State Airport.

Another plus is that the plant will be near the Technology Drive Campus of Ashland Community & Technical College, which is collaborating with Braidy Industries on developing classes aimed at providing appropriate training for people who will work at the plant.

Local economic development officials are understandably excited about the project, which will serve the aerospace and automotive industries. Construction of the plant will mean about 1,000 jobs, and about 550 permanent jobs are expected once the plant is built. In addition, officials say the Braidy plant could attract up to two dozen satellite companies, which would mean even more local investment and jobs.

It’s no wonder Gov. Matt Blevin said in April that Braidy’s decision to build in Kentucky could become the most significant “economic deal” in the history of the state. The state has set aside $15 million for the project.

The new location also appears to be a turning point for the EastPark Industrial Center, which was developed by Ashland Alliance, the chamber group representing Boyd and Greenup counties. Braidy’s decision to locate in the park means the 1,000-acre area will have developed all but about 200 acres. Braidy is also likely to acquire for warehousing purposes a 110,000-square-foot shell building that the industrial park has been marketing for about a dozen years. With Braidy on board, it would seem likely that the park’s remaining property can be occupied by some of the satellite companies expected to follow Braidy to the region.

It’s fortunate for the region’s economic well-being that the EastPark site was available and officials were ready to jump in with a solution for this endeavor.

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