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Monday, January 17, 2022
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HomeOpinionColumnWho’s repaying the $15 million for the aluminum mill that never was?

Who’s repaying the $15 million for the aluminum mill that never was?

By: Keith Kappes
Columnist
Carter County Times

Now that the Kentucky General Assembly apparently has stopped believing in the fairy tale about a $1.5 billion aluminum mill at EastPark, who is going to repay the $15 million invested by the taxpayers of Kentucky with a money-back guarantee?

We believe that former Gov. Matt Bevin, said to be a millionaire plus, should be the first to ante up for his part in helping convince the state legislature to appropriate those funds behind a veil of secrecy on the last day of that legislative session. 

Thousands of local residents and folks from Ohio, West Virginia and elsewhere bought into the fantasy and initially applied for 600 jobs at what was to be a giant complex at the business park which encompasses parts of Boyd, Carter and Greenup counties. 

Caught up in the excitement and eager to help create jobs, at least one Tri-State college started a new degree program for future employees of Braidy Industries, now called Unity Aluminum and perhaps to be known as extinct before its newly-revised opening date of 2025.

Chief executive officers have come and gone since the charade began. We’re not sure who is in charge these days as unhappy lawmakers ask hard but necessary questions about hundreds of millions of dollars from investors which were promised but not delivered. Meanwhile, the debt of $15 million to the Commonwealth has become an even hotter potato.

A giant aluminum company in Russia was identified as a substantial investor at one point but no one connected with Unity apparently is willing to confirm that is going to happen. In fact, names of investors are top secret because of so-called confidentiality agreements. 

Some folks said they became uneasy when the big mill was announced for South Shore but soon relocated to EastPark. Other than a fanciful groundbreaking ceremony, the only prep work has been to replace the sign marking the proposed building site. 

Ironically, Kentucky has become a hotbed of automotive and aerospace manufacturing, two of the top consumers of aluminum. Yet, the state’s only major aluminum mills are located in West Kentucky and both have recently expanded. 

The toughest question remains unanswered. Who’s repaying the $15 million?

Keith Kappes can be reached at keithkappes@gmail.com

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