Beshear tours Flash Steelworks construction

Published 12:39 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2024

By Jay Compton

Governor Andy Beshear joined Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock, Middlesboro Mayor Boone Bowling and several other local officials on a brief tour of the Flash Steelworks building currently under construction.

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Flash Steelworks owner Gary Cola Jr. and contractors from Green Construction led the tour of the 33,000 square foot facility.

“I’ve been wanting to come to this one for a while,” Beshear said. “This looks great.”

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 has a contract with the Department of Defense to produce armor for the U.S. military.

A groundbreaking for the project was held in October of 2022. The outside of the structure is nearly complete and work is ongoing inside to house the steel processing operation.

Cola said plans are for the plant to start operating in September.

“We’re looking at moving equipment in at the end of July or August. KU will be here September first or sooner to get everything powered up,” he told the governor.  “We’ve got a schedule and it’s really not shifting too far to the right.”

Beshear was in Bell County for the 50th anniversary of the WIC program in Pineville and stopped in Middlesboro to see how work was progressing at Flash Steelworks.

“Right now we have an economy on fire in Kentucky. I just came from Flash Steelworks over in Middlesboro. It’s going to employ 100 people making state of the art body armor right here in Bell County. They’re eventually going to expand and we’re talking about hundreds of great jobs,” he said. “They’re coming all over Kentucky. We’re building the two largest battery plants on planet earth, we just opened the cleanest, greenest recycled paper mill the planet has ever seen. Suddenly international companies that didn’t even know where we were want to be right here and we want those jobs to benefit your families.

“This is our time. We’re moving ahead not slowly, but in great bounds and leaps, becoming a national economic leader. Now we are viewed nationally in such a different way than we were even four years ago. I couldn’t be happier than to be here in Bell County today. It’s a special part of Kentucky, one I believe in and I believe in investing in. One where I work with the mayor here in Pineville and the Judge-Executive we never see party, we never talk about party, we just talk about progress. If we can do that here then we ought to be able to do that nationally and on a state level.”

Cola said he already has two Middlesboro employees who are traveling to his plant in Michigan for training and expects to have between six and eight such employees by May.

Production at the Flash Steelworks Middlesboro plant can start with about a dozen employees with that number growing to 100 over the next three years.