On Aug. 13, Gov. Andy Beshear and U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers hosted the first-ever virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda to celebrate the completion of Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) pilot program economic development and tourism-related projects in Perry, Floyd and Clay counties. During the ceremony, Gov. Beshear and Rep. Rogers also applauded the beginning of a new construction project at the East Park industrial site spanning Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Greenup and Lawrence counties. The projects are a result of multiple investments, including more than $14 million in AML pilot project grants.
Beshear said the project are a positive step for the region, which has seen coal severance funds diminish in the last few years.
“I am committed to bringing economic opportunity to all regions of Kentucky, to create good jobs and make life better for every Kentucky family,” Beshear said. “We’ve already made great strides in bringing greater investment to the region. In the coming months and years, more and more of these projects will continue, bringing jobs and economic diversity to Eastern Kentucky.”
Rogers, who along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has championed $540 million in federal funding for the AML Pilot Program since 2016, of which $130 million has been awarded to Kentucky, said the ceremony was a positive move that will help the area come back to life.
“The ribbon-cutting celebration is a revival in the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky where abandoned mine lands are coming back to life in the form of new industries and new opportunities,” said Rogers. “We’re proving that Kentucky’s Appalachian region is not only one of the most beautiful parts of the country, full of tourism adventures, but we can also competitively manufacture top-of-the-line products with high-tech equipment.”
One of the projects recognized during the ribbon-cutting ceremony was the Dajcor Aluminum Extruding Mill, located at the Coal Fields Regional Industrial Park in Perry County. The Industrial Park, a former mine site, received $6.5 million in AML pilot funding to purchase a new aluminum extrusion press, which is now operational and is owned by the county and leased to Dajcor for 15 years. Dajcor Aluminum, a Canadian manufacturer of extruded and fabricated aluminum products, has hired 32 employees so far, and plans to continue hiring people, creating up to 265 full-time jobs in its first U.S. operation near Hazard.
The 236-acre industrial park, a partnership of Perry, Leslie, Knott, Breathitt and Harlan counties, provides sites for manufacturing. A separate gas line project, partially funded with a separate $900,000 AML pilot grant, is providing natural gas to Dajcor and other industrial park tenants.
“We are extremely happy with our new location in Eastern Kentucky and the workforce skills of our employees,” said Dajcor Aluminum President/CEO Mike Kilby. “We wouldn’t be here without the efforts of Congressman Rogers, Sen. McConnell, Gov. Beshear and One East Kentucky. Their collaboration and assistance via the AML Pilot Program made choosing this location an easy decision for our company. I am very proud of our team and the work they did to bring this project to completion despite the current pandemic.”