HICKORY, Ky — PRCO America Inc., a division of China-based Puyang Refractories Group Co. and manufacturer of specialty refractory brick for the steel industry, plans to invest $5.5 million to open its first U.S. production facility next year in Graves County, Ky.
PRCO executives plan to establish a state-of-the-art refractory plant in an approximately 35,000-s.f. building in Hickory, an unincorporated community six miles north of Mayfield. The company will also use three other buildings on the site for various purposes, including office space. The operation will produce custom-sized resin-bonded magnesia graphite refractory brick, which steel mills use to line their furnaces and transfer ladles.
Company leaders plan to install the latest hydraulic pressing and automation technology, to ensure high productivity and that products are high in quality. The facility could begin production by the end of 2020.
West Kentucky stood out nationally as their ideal location, PRCO leaders said, based on its proximity to the Mississippi River for cost-effective delivery of raw materials, as well its central location to America’s steel producers. The plant also will source a unique raw material, making its products longer-lasting and instrumental in producing cleaner-quality steel.
“We expect to fill this plant to full capacity quickly,” said Ricky Wang, president of PRCO America. “Refractory made using this new raw material is already showing a 15% to 25% or greater improvement in performance for our customers in products we imported into the USA to qualify the new formulations in American steel-producing operations.”
“The opportunity to announce PRCO America’s first U.S. facility in West Kentucky comes at a welcome time as we reopen businesses, reinvigorate the economy across the commonwealth and continue to create good-paying jobs for Kentuckians,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “Kentucky’s many attractive qualities, including our workforce and, for this development, our proximity to U.S. steel mills, will continue attracting jobs and investment as we move forward.”
Sen. Stan Humphries, of Cadiz, said, “with the Mississippi River close by, our region is a centralized hub for the transport of steel and other industrial production materials. I look forward to new jobs and new opportunities for Graves County and the surrounding area.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in April preliminarily approved a 15-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $550,000 in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $5.49 million and annual targets of Creation and maintenance of 32 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 15 years and paying an average hourly wage of $24.50 including benefits across those jobs.
By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments. In addition, PRCO can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network.
Founded in Pittsburgh in 2008, the Kentucky plant will give the company both U.S. production and increased flexibility for manufacturing and delivery timing, state officials said. The company’s customers include mini-mill and integrated steel producers in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.