FRANKFORT, Ky. — The chairman of the Kentucky Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee filed a bill last week to recover a $15 million economic development incentive extended to Unity Aluminum for a plant in Ashland that has not been constructed.
The company, previously known as Braidy Industries, said it planned to build a 1.8 million-s.f. facility on more than 240 acres in the EastPark Industrial Center, where it would produce 300,000 tons of aluminum alloy sheet and plate each year. Announced nearly 5 years ago, the project was pushed back numerous times and the plant has not been built. In 2017, the state granted the company $15 million in incentives, contingent on its investment of $1.3 billion in the project and creating 500 full-time jobs with an average salary of $75,000.
The company broke ground in June 2018 but has not moved forward with construction. At the time of the groundbreaking, the investment was hailed by state and local officials as an amazing opportunity for local residents. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Braidy’s investment would encourage “an economic revival in the heart of Appalachia.”
Braidy changed its name to Unity Aluminum in October 2020 after Braidy founder Craig Bouchard was removed by the company’s board of directors. In a January 2021 press release, the company’s most recent press release regarding the plant that is available on its website, Unity’s President and CEO Don Foster said the project will move forward in Ashland. The company says the plant will be the first and most energy and environmentally efficient aluminum mill to be built in the U.S. in 40 years.
The Kentucky General Assembly bill, filed by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, directs Commonwealth Seed Capital, an independent fund that invests in early-stage Kentucky businesses, to recover the funds and any interest, penalties or fees that were included in the agreement. Senate Bill 48 also prohibits Commonwealth Seed Capital from extending the period during which the aluminum company’s $1.3 billion investment can be made past March 31, 2022.
If the funds are not recovered by the end of the year, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development would be directed to proceed with litigation to recover the $15 million, plus interest, penalties and fees, the bill says.
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