Chief Executive

Six Lessons from CEO’s Huge Aluminum Gambit in Appalachia

By Dale Buss

The ongoing construction of a $1.6-billion aluminum-rolling mill in Ashland, Kentucky, ticketed with the economic hopes and dreams of an entire region, is about as big and bold as an entrepreneur can go. But there are lessons for other business leaders in how Craig Bouchard, CEO of Braidy Industries, has approached his attempt to build his fourth billion-dollar company.

When Braidy opens its mill in 2020, it’s expected to employ about 600 people who’ve been plucked from a pool of more than 7,000 applicants for jobs that Bouchard says will pay between $50,000 and $70,000 a year. Another 150 jobs are supposed to materialize in an associated metal-alloy plant nearby. And in the meantime, Bouchard expects to employ about 1,600 people doing construction.

This would go a long way toward reversing the devastating economic slide of a part of Appalachia that has lost not only many coal-mining jobs, but also thousands of manufacturing positions in the last couple of decades. Bouchard also expects his investment to help solve a deep-seated plague of opioid addiction in eastern Kentucky.

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