ASHLAND -- U.S. Sen. Rand Paul met with leaders of Braidy Industries in Ashland on Thursday, saying the arrival of the aluminum manufacturer in the Tri-State will offer a much-needed and very exciting economic boost to the region.
"I don't think I have the words to say how exciting it is," said Paul, R-Ky. "It is a really big deal for them to be locating here. Its been tough. I've been here and to have a brand new company, brand new industry, probably hiring some of the people who have those skills in metal works, that will probably get jobs with Braidy — I think it is great for the community and the area."
Paul gathered with Braidy leaders and also representatives from local government, business and industry in a closed-door meeting to talk about Braidy. The senator wanted to hear what his office can do to help Braidy and the region's related economic growth.
Braidy is building a $1.3-billion aluminum mill in nearby South Shore, providing 550 high-paying jobs in the region. The company is developing its headquarters in downtown Ashland at the Community Trust Building.
Braidy executives said Thursday the project is on track. Braidy board member John T. Preston said the company is positioning itself to supply markets with the aluminum product it needs for the modern era.
"The key thing we are focusing on is global need for light-weighting of automobiles and airplanes," Preston said. "Anything that moves (you) want to reduce the amount of fuel consumption and the amount of pollution coming out of it. We think that created a vacuum, if you will, where there hasn't been much innovation over the last 50 years. We are stepping in to fill that vacuum. We are going to be the first new...greenfield aluminum mill, in the United States in the last 40 years. We think that gives us a huge advantage on the quality and the cost."
Braidy's Jaunique Sealey, senior vice president of business development, said headquarters are scheduled to be completed in October. The company is on schedule in respect to planning plant construction.
"As a highlight we've been able to celebrate our over 100 percent pre-sale of our mill capacity so our customers of Braidy Industries now include some of the top automotive and aerospace OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in the world," Sealey said.
Paul was asked by the Daily Independent what can be done to help Braidy and the region's economy grow. He believes a huge component of helping business is cutting taxes.
"What can I do to make it easier, better?" Paul said. "How can we allow their fortunes to prosper so people who work for them will also get jobs?
"One of the things we can do this fall that I hope will be helpful to new industries that come to Kentucky is lets lower the corporate tax rate," Paul said. "We have the highest corporate income tax in the world at 35 percent. The president has asked for 15 percent. I'm fully behind that. If we were to do that I think we would keep more industry in our country and the industry that is in our country will thrive.
"Besides corporate taxes a lot of small business owners — you own a McDonald's and you employ 15 people, you get your income and it is at your personal rate," Paul said. "You've got to make sure the small businesses also get it so it is not just the huge corporations get to 15 percent. If you own a local small business, plumber, carpenter, pest control, that you get the 15 percent as a pass through. It needs to be the same for small business also.
"The one thing I think people need to realize is it is not us versus big corporations," Paul said. "And communities get this. Braidy...(could cause) thousands of people to have jobs who didn't have jobs before, so we really are all interconnected in the economy.
"We want everyone to thrive which means we've got to bring down the tax rate," he said.