A groundbreaking ceremony for Dajcor’s incoming manufacturing plant at the Coalfields Industrial Park in Chavies was held Nov. 2, drawing in many community members, business representatives and local and state leaders.
The company, which will be located in the former American Woodmark facility, is expected to employ hundreds of workers, and is the Canadian-based company’s first U.S. aluminum extrusion operation.
“We’re excited about this project and we’re excited about what it is going to do for Perry County and the greater region,” said One East Kentucky President/CEO Chuck Sexton, stating that this was a huge accomplishment for the area.
The decision to locate the facility in Perry County was a long, tough one, said Dajcor officials, but they feel they have made the right decision and are excited to see what the future holds.
“We’re very excited to come here,” said Steve Everitt, Dajcor’s senior vice president of operations. “This is a great place,” he said, adding that he and his team have spent a lot of time in the area making sure this was the right place and people for their company to locate the facility.
During their time in Hazard and Perry County, Everitt said, the amount of local people willing to work hard and the dedication shown by local and state leaders made it evident that Perry County would be a good location to partner with, he said. When other businesses see the skill set here, Everitt said, the county will be flooded with incoming businesses and companies wanting to utilize the workers available in the area.
“This is the place to be in,” he said. “It was a big decision for us to make because our plant in Canada relies on the success of this plant, so we’re together. We’re going to have great success here.”
Perry County Judge-Executive Scott Alexander said that bringing Dajcor to the county was already a success, and that it will lead to more opportunities in the future.
“We’re not just talking about things, we’re making things happen,” Alexander said. “Change is coming, and change comes with these jobs in Appalachia.”
Many of the other local and state level officials present at the ceremony agreed that the work force available in Perry County, and Eastern Kentucky in general, was unlike any other state’s and that this was just another example of what can be achieved when the community and leaders work together.
This area has a very dedicated and skilled work force with a strong work ethic, which will lead to the success of Dajcor’s Perry County facility and any other new business that come in the future, Gov. Matt Bevin told the crowd Saturday.
“We have already all the ingredients, we just need the right recipes — the ingredients are on the shelves, the kitchen is well stocked,” said Gov. Bevin. “This is a town that is worthy of greatness, a town where there is great people. We’re blessed with things you couldn’t buy for any price, we really are.”
Bevin said the hometown, work and family values of the region give it an edge compared to other states. Dajcor, he said, is similar to that.
“What is interesting about this name, Dajcor, is that it is a family run company, it is ran by people just like us,” Bevin said, explaining that the first three letters of the company’s name represent the owner’s three daughters, which shows where the company’s beliefs and values are.
“I care about my kids, I love my kids, I would do anything for any one of my nine kids,” said Bevin. “This is a company that feels the same way, and it is literally in their name. We should feel good about being able to partner with somebody like that.
“My vision has been clear since the beginning. I want us to be the absolute center, the absolute recognized center, of engineering and manufacturing excellence in the United States of America,” Bevin said, adding that the Dajcor plant is another step forward to the accomplishment of that vision of a prosperous industrial area.
“For over 100 years we had the best coal miners in the world,” said Secretary Charles Snavely, of the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet. “More than that, we’re great industrial workers.”
This ethic and skill set, he said, will greatly benefit local communities and allow them to have access to the many jobs that Dajcor will bring.
The prospect of so many jobs, officials said, is bringing about a new atmosphere in the region.
“There is a new energy and excitement in Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky, a new hope that has come over the last four years,” said Erran Persley, commissioner of business development for the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. “Our state is booming.
“The jobs that Dajcor will create in this area will benefit the many talented and skilled workers that are here in this area,” said Persley. He continued, “Where Eastern Kentucky excels is workforce. That is one of the most important things we can have. There is not a more committed, talented group of workers in this country than we have here in Kentucky, and more specifically, in Eastern Kentucky.”
Congressman Hal Rogers also stated that he believes the future is bright.
“We’ve got a great future ahead of us,” Rogers said. “We’re seeing all across our region this rebirth of the East Kentucky spirit, and it is satisfying, it’s thrilling and I’m happy to be a small part of it with you.”
During the groundbreaking ceremony, funding was announced and given to Perry County officials to aid in the Dajcor partnership. The Perry County Fiscal Court received a $300,000 economic development grant from Kentucky Power, presented by Kentucky Power’s External Affairs Manager Bob Shurtleff, and funded through the Kentucky Power Economic Development Growth Grants (K-PEGG) program. In addition to that, Congressman Rogers announced that the county has received a $6.5 million dollar Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) grant that will be used for the Dajcor facility.
Some positions have already been filled for the company, and more will be hired in the upcoming year.