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Braidy Industries needs $500M to break ground on aluminum plant in Eastern Kentucky, executives say

Lawmakers questioned whether a recent CEO shakeup with Braidy Industries would put the company on track to make the aluminum plant and jobs a reality.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Braidy Industry executives told Kentucky lawmakers they need to raise another $500M to break ground by the end of 2020.

“We feel like we are ready to move forward, and we are a shovel ready project,” the General Manager of Braidy Industries Greg Whigham said.

Lawmakers questioned whether a recent CEO shakeup with Braidy Industries would put the company on track to make the aluminum plant and jobs a reality.

“I'm as confident today as I was three years ago when this project started,” Braidy Industries CEO Tom Modrowski said.

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Three years ago, Political Editor Chris Williams was present as former Braidy Industries CEO Craig Bouchard stood with former Governor Matt Bevin touting a $1.3 billion investment. The new plant promised to bring 1,000 construction jobs and 550 jobs to Eastern Kentucky upon opening, plus production of 20 percent of aluminum used in the auto industry.

Last week, Bouchard was booted and Modrowski took his place at CEO. The move prompted questions from lawmakers.

When Sen. Christian McDaniel asked why the previous CEO was replaced, Modrowski said, “We’re here today to answer questions and give you guys an update on the project. Those issues are between Craig and the board.”

While lawmakers did not get all the answers they were looking for, they were told construction plans and permits are ready. Although there is currently no electricity available at the site, the Braidy executives said they have planned for that as well.

"We want this to work, but I've got to think that it's very hard to run an aluminum plant without power,” Sen. Morgan McGarvey said.

“From when we first start digging into the ground to when we're ready to start it up is 27 months. So, we believe that we have plenty of time to work out getting power to the site that we need. That should be plenty of time,” Whigham responded.

Moving forward, Braidy Industries was asked to submit quarterly progress reports.

"My optimism and my hope currently is that it gets built and we get our money back with a return on that investment. But certainly, we're going to keep the pressure on them to make sure that, in the event that there is an issue, that the taxpayers are protected,” Sen. McDaniel said.

That investment is $15 million in taxpayer money.

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When pressed on potential repayment if the company fails to build, the executives told lawmakers they don't want to deal with hypotheticals and are instead focused on building.

After the hearing, Williams attempted to speak with Modroswki but was told the CEO would not be doing interviews.

►Contact reporter Chris Williams at cwilliams@whas11.com. Follow him on Twitter (@chriswnews) and Facebook.