Steel manufacturer breaks ground on new Middlesboro plant

Published 7:07 am Thursday, October 13, 2022


Executives from Flash Steelworks Inc. on Wednesday broke ground on a new steel-manufacturing facility in Middlesboro. Over the next 15 years, Flash Steelworks will invest $12.1 million and create 250 full-time jobs at an hourly rate of $39, including benefits. Of those, 100 new jobs are expected to be created in the next three years.

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman was on hand for the groundbreaking where she also announced $1 million in Appalachian Regional Commission funding will help in the construction of the facility. The ARC funding will be matched by $5 million in state funds, allocated from the 2022 state budget, she said.

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“As more companies look to move to Kentucky, we want to make sure we are giving them the support they need,” Coleman said. “Flash Steelworks is betting on Kentucky, and we are ensuring they’ll be here for the long-haul.”

Based in Detroit, Flash Steelworks is a private steel manufacturer that uses a unique and highly specialized electronic/thermal process to produce blast-resistant, yet lightweight, military-grade plate steel. The company is a producer of armor for the U.S. military.

“Flash Steelworks is very pleased to team with everyone in the State of Kentucky to produce a world-class armor plate to protect those in harm’s way,” said Gary Cola, Jr., the company’s founder and chief technology officer. “Starting in Middlesboro, we will deploy leading-edge advanced steel technology and products in what is planned to be a regional industrial hub. This new facility is just a first step toward bringing many truly high-paying, long-term jobs to Southeast Kentucky to the benefit of all.”

Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock said the project would not have been possible without the coming together of private and public parties who came together as a team.

“This new facility is going to bring 100 good-paying jobs to Bell County over the next few years,” Brock said. “We are excited to see this kind of long-term investment in our community. So many people have worked to secure this funding, and to see it come together is incredible. Many thanks to everyone who has worked so hard on this project.”

The project will be an obvious boost to the economy in Bell County and its residents, said Middlesboro Mayor Rick Nelson.

“The new steel facility is going to provide good-paying jobs to Middlesboro, and Bell County as a whole,” Mayor Nelson said. “These kinds of investments help our community grow and diversify our economy. It’s a big win for Middlesboro, and we want to thank all the partners involved in securing this project.”

As part of Flash Steelworks’ investment in Bell County, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority in September approved a 15-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program that can provide up to $3 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $12.1 million and annual targets of creating 250 full-time jobs for residents of Kentucky over 15 years at the agreed-up wage of $39 including benefits.

By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company will be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates, as well as other tax incentives.