The Louisville media is waging an unimportant fight with the economic development agency of the commonwealth. Surprisingly, this debate is focused on the identity of Braidy Industries shareholders and their potential connection to the governor, or various state agencies. This is a pointless exercise – a waste of resources on political fluff. This would never be tolerated in the world of private enterprise.
There is also a concern expressed about the action by the state Legislature to approve a $15 million investment next to our proposed $1.3 billion investment in eastern Kentucky. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very important 1 percent participation. The House and Senate voted 98-0 to approve this investment. We placed great value in the state having “skin-in-the-game," and it played a role in our choosing Kentucky. But, it is 1 percent.
I request all of the state’s politicians, lawyers and media professionals to focus on real problems, such as economic development, the brewing pension crisis, the opioid epidemic destroying homes and schools, and our treasure: the kids. Could we please work together on those problems instead of inventing irrelevant issues?
With respect to the choices of Braidy Industries: We reviewed more than 20 attractive mill sites in multiple states, and chose eastern Kentucky. The commonwealth, The Ashland Alliance, and Greenup County certainly made a good pitch, but did not offer the most attractive incentive package. Our decision was influenced by a couple of key factors: The governor personally asked us to consider Kentucky. He was determined to bring advanced manufacturing jobs back to our region. This meant a lot to us. More importantly, when we arrived we discovered a treasure trove of highly skilled and dedicated work-ready families waiting to work for us. You may think that expensive machinery and buildings are the key to success in 2 million square feet under roof. In actuality, it is all about the people. After scouting Indiana, North and South Carolina and Texas, we found a beautiful place full of exceptional people. In fact, after announcing our choice, we received roughly 3,500 job applications for our 600 jobs. Obviously, we found our team, and we found our home.
With respect to the recent lawsuit and open-records-request involving the commonwealth, please allow me to save some taxpayer money; today, there are eight shareholders of Braidy Industries, with founding employees also participating in a stock incentive program. Commonwealth Seed Capital and Charles Price, a member of our board of directors (and an industrialist from Louisville) are our only shareholders domiciled in the commonwealth. All other Braidy shareholders are located in other states or countries. We have typical confidentiality agreements in place with all of those that have access to our competitive information, like our customers, key suppliers and shareholders. Charles is a mentor to me, and I can assure you that Charles and his company have no business with the commonwealth, or any of its agencies. It was Charles who convinced us to give Kentucky a chance to bid on our mill project. I understand the important role that the media holds within the community and its responsibility to its readership and viewership to tell the stories that matter. For many good and positive reasons our company is of interest.
We are more than happy to provide as much information and transparency as we can, within the normal boundaries of a private company – but not beyond. That is a fair position. It is part of our grander vision to bring Republicans and Democrats, even conservatives and liberals together and help solve the problems facing us. America used to be like that.
We respectfully ask that you consider Braidy a partner in working for the benefit of all. It is time for us to get back to what we are driven to do. That is to focus on building a multi-materials, light-weighting technology company, revitalizing Eastern Kentucky and showcasing the amazing talent and skill of her people.
Craig T. Bouchard is chief executive officer and chairman of Braidy Industries.