Braidy Industries providing optimism for the future

When Braidy Industries announced in April that it would build a $1.3 billion, state-of-the-art aluminum rolling mill offering some 550 well-paying jobs, few people in the Tri-State had ever heard of the company. My how quickly things have changed. Not only has Braidy become a household word in Northeastern Kentucky — many are convinced it will lead the way to a major economic recovery for the entire region.

Braidy Industries believes in this region’s future. This is demonstrated in both the plans to build the mill and its decision to open its corporate headquarters to downtown Ashland.

Braidy Industries President and CEO Craig Bouchard used the unveiling of its corporate offices on the third and fourth floors of the Community Trust Bank Building in the heart of downtown Ashland this week to brag about this region and it potential for growth and economic development.

“I think you’re going to see a bunch of new businesses on these streets out here … for the region, I believe this is a turning point,” Bouchard said. “There’s been 30 years of subpar economic activity here. I think you’re going to see 30 years of hyper-accelerated growth.”

We certainly hope that is true. After years of seeing hundreds of good-paying jobs disappear in this region, we are overdue for a major economic shot in the arm, and Braidy Industries has provided it. Braidy has helped restore hope and confidence in this region’s future.

To be sure, things have changed since Braidy made its announcement in April. Because the soil at the South Shore site failed to meet the high standards required for the proposed aluminum mill, Braidy was forced to seek another location. However, instead of moving hundreds of miles away, the company is negotiating to purchase a 300-acre site in Boyd and Greenup counties that is part of the EastPark Industrial Center. Because of the work of The Ashland Alliance, which serves as the chamber of commerce for Boyd and Greenup counties, Braidy already knew the property was suitable for the aluminum mill.

Bouchard told The Daily Independent that Braidy’s new coporate offices were completely rehabbed from what they were prior and “Now you see one of the greatest offices — this whole complex — in Kentucky, thanks to the incredible work done right here in Ashland.”

The third floor of the Community Trust Bank building includes 14 Braidy offices. The company is also leasing the floor above, which Bouchard said will include 25 offices. About 20 work in the headquarters now, but that number will rise to 65 in the coming months, the company CEO said.

The showcase was met with fanfare from local government officials and business owners. At least 150 crowded into the third-floor office space Monday. They were served candied bacon and other appetizers, along with beer and wine. An ice sculpture of the Braidy Industries logo was placed in the main hallway, where many lined up to meet Bouchard.

Among those present was University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto, who spoke with Bouchard inside his office.

“We (UK) see opportunities for partnerships,” Capilouto told The Daily Independent as to why he was in attendance.

“We also want to be able to be a source for a terrific work force that Braidy and others that follow would look to. I’m very impressed with the dream, and I think Mr. Bouchard is someone who can turn it into a reality,” said the president of the state’s leading research university.

All of this sends a huge positive message to other companies considering locating here — that northeastern Kentucky may have offer just what they need and want. That’s the kind of ripple effect Braidy Industries can have.

The Independent of Ashland