Payments approved for Flash Steelworks construction

Published 3:42 pm Thursday, February 15, 2024

By Jay Compton


At Tuesday’s meeting, the Bell County Fiscal Court approved several payments for the ongoing construction at the Flash Steelworks in Middlesboro. Judge-Executive Albey Brock also provided an update on the timeline for the facility to open and how people can apply to work there.

Brock explained that the county owns the project and has been able to fund it through a series of grants. They received a $5 million line item in the state budget to get the started along with a $1 million ARC grant. They recently received a $2 million Economic Development grant and have netted $2.4 million in New Market Tax Credits.

“All of that has kept us from having to expend any local dollars to this point,” he said. “When we get close to the end of this, we may end up having to put some local funds in to finish it off. My intention is to recoup that back through grants throughout the course of the year as those grant windows open up. We’ve got a $10 million project that the local funds in it are going to be less than $1 million at the very worst.”

Tuesday, the court-approved payment to Green Construction Company, Inc. for the amount of $252,850.04 for Payment Application #11; GEOServices, LLC for the amount of $7,500 for Invoice #902627;, CSI for the amount of $3,200 for Invoice #0020118, the amount of $1,425 for Invoice #0019941 and the amount of $5,620 for Invoice #0019484; JMT for the amount of $16,351.75 for Invoice #10 and DelMae, LLC for the amount of $31,013.27 for Payment #5 for Flash Steelworks.

Also approved was Emergency Budget Amendment #3 to reflect those New Market Tax Credits for Flash Steelworks.

In a separate motion, a payment of up to $30,000 was approved to Allen & Hoshall once terms were finalized. Brock explained that negotiations were ongoing with the electrical contracting engineers for work on the substation for Flash Steel, and he didn’t yet have a signed copy of all the terms.

“I’m trying to keep us from having to hold a special called meeting and not delay the project,” he said. “I think the final amount is going to be $25,000.”

Brock said construction on the project was all ahead of schedule so far, but was concerned that supply chain issues could delay getting the substation installed.

“Full disclosure, some of this electrical stuff like the supply for substation steel and switches is tight. We feel good, we’re ahead of schedule today but with this electrical piece I’m a little concerned,” Brock said. “It’s not going to be a huge delay like a year or anything crazy like that. We’re talking about months, less than six, if we would get delayed because of the supply lines. Everything has gone really smooth so far.”

The judge said the substation will have to be installed before the facility can treat steel.

“Flash uses an unbelievable amount of electricity compared to normal businesses. For him to go full-bore wide-open, that piece has got to be done,” Brock said. “Temporary power will be there so he can run his overhead crane, have lights and all of that. As far as running the actual equipment for the process of treating the steel, he’s got to have that substation built in order to do that. I think we could see a soft opening with a handful of folks and all of the equipment set up by June or July.”

He said the equipment that Flash will be using is sitting in a warehouse in Michigan waiting to be transported.

“They’re good on their end, we’re good on our end all except that substation piece,” Brock said.

He was also asked about how Gov. Andy Beshear’s visit to the construction site went last month.

“We were honored to have him down here. He was here primarily for the WIC 50th year celebration in Pineville, but he took time out to go and take a look at the Flash Steelworks building,” Brock said. “We had some issues, nothing big, but he had his folks at the state level get back to us to help us address those. We’re very appreciative of him coming, and his support for the project is pretty well documented.”

Owner Gary Cola Jr. has said the operations at Flash Steel can start with about a dozen employees and plans to gradually increase that number to 100 over the next three years.

People interested in working for Flash Steel can apply through Bell-Whitley.

Brock said the reason for going through Bell-Whitley is so Flash Steel could qualify for state training.

“In order for them to come to Middlesboro, that was part of the incentive package at the state level,” he said. “That helps them with their training costs. The college provides some training for them, and the on-the-job training program through Bell-Whitley through EKSEV allows Flash to recoup some of the money.”