Kentucky and the United States are in the midst of a strong economic expansion. A low unemployment rate, more people working and newly announced investments are providing opportunity and hope for our families.
However, many communities often struggle even during good economic times. This particularly is true for people in our often forgotten rural areas, including our very own Meade County. But thankfully, announcements of new jobs in our community have inspired a much-needed wave of hope and optimism about the future.
Nucor Corp. announced plans earlier this year to build a $1.35 billion steel mill in Brandenburg. Nucor is the largest steel producer in the United States and plans to build a 1.5 million-square-foot facility in the industrial park along the Ohio River. This project has the potential to be a game-changer for our community and region, creating 400 high-paying jobs in their facility.
As of the most recent numbers, the median household income in Meade County was slightly more than $58,000. With that in mind, it is critical to note the jobs being created by Nucor will pay an average annual wage of $72,000 plus benefits. These high-paying, skilled positions will provide a strong boost not only to those 400 families, but to our entire community and region. More money in our people’s pockets will help boost local businesses, further cementing what will become Nucor’s tremendous footprint on our community.
An economic impact report released by Barry J. Kornstein, an independent consulting economic researcher, in October describes just how big of an impact this plant is expected to have. The mill’s projected yearly economic impact in Kentucky adds up to 3,040 jobs and $189 million in total wages when you include both direct and indirect benefits.
Most of that growth would be concentrated in Meade County and surrounding areas, including Breckinridge, Bullitt, Hardin and Jefferson counties.
Nucor’s expansion into Brandenburg also will add revenue to our schools. In addition to supporting Meade County Schools through annual property taxes, Nucor will pay school tax of up to 3 percent on its electricity purchases.
As we all are aware, education is critical to economic development and it’s exciting to see the impact new jobs and industry can have on both job creation and education. Nucor’s plans also show the proper way to raise revenue and pay for education is to grow the economy and attract more businesses to Kentucky.
This is one of the biggest investments in Kentucky’s history and the fact Kentucky beat several states out for this project speaks volumes about the direction our economy is moving and Nucor’s trust in us for their future.
Now, we must focus on ensuring we have a quality workforce in place to fill jobs and meet demand. It will take a full team effort between the business community, our schools and our local and state officials to enable local residents to meet the new opportunities being provided.
There are many naysayers out there who doubt not only the possibilities provided by Nucor but the potential of other major economic development projects. But I choose a different approach. I am optimistic about exciting opportunities to be provided by Nucor for years to come. And even more importantly, I can sense the hope for a brighter future in our community.
I also acknowledge any change brings some bad along with the good. Yet I have faith in our community leaders and you, the public, to work through each of the challenges that will be presented to us in order to provide financial opportunities for our children and grandchildren that most of us had to travel out of the county to find.