‘Cornerstone of the local economy’ City receives updates on industry, projects

Printed from Richmond Register on Oct 17, 2019 by Taylor Six.

Richmond Mayor Robert Blythe and Richmond Industrial Development Corporation (RIDC) Director David Stipes celebrated the declaration of the National Manufacturing Month in Richmond this week with updates about industrial development in the city.

Mayor Robert Blyte reads aloud the Manufacturing Month Proclamation at a Tuesday workshop meeting. From left to right: Mayor Robert Blyte; David Stipes, executive director of RIDC; Jimmy Howard, RIDC board member; John McPhearson, Lectrodryer Company; and Robbie Robertson, Concrete Materials Company

The mayor read aloud the proclamation stating the document highlights the importance of manufacturing in the community, which draws attention to the many rewarding and high skilled jobs in the industry.

“Manufacturing is a cornerstone of the local economy and provides jobs for thousands of citizens living in our city and other communities from surrounding areas,” Blythe said. “We recognize manufacturers and the importance they serve for the city, the county, state and nation.”

Stipes told city commissioners of the “significant improvements” made to the Richmond Industrial Park including a water line extension project adding 3,330 feet of 12-inch water line. The project was completed in May and “enhanced the back portion of the park,” which now has water, sewage and railroad access.

This project was completed at a cost of $278,380 using CDBG funding, according to Stipes’ report. The project also included the installation of fire hydrants making city water available throughout the entire park which Stipes states will attract new industries that need to begin building within a short timeframe.

Also in May, East Kentucky Power began construction of a new substation in the Richmond Industrial Park South 3 that will serve Bluegrass Energy lines in the Industrial Park as well as in the Duncannon service area.

The substation will provide power for the new Asahi Forge plant that will be constructed over the next year which Stipes told commissioners has made “significant advances in their construction.”

The Asahi Forge plant broke ground in May for the construction of their third Richmond-based plant and Stipes predicts it will be completed in June of 2020.

“You know we had 30-something days of dry weather here and that was bad for the grass and trees and so forth but it was good on their construction,” Stipes said. “They generated a little dust out there, but again, they got way ahead of the game getting a lot of concrete poured, and a lot of Earth moving done, so they are going to get some paving done and it has really sped up their construction process.

Asahi Forge is making a $40 million capital investment in the Richmond community and creating the possibility for 80 new jobs by way of this project, Stipes stated in his report.

Stipes also told the officials that a grant application has been submitted to the Kentucky Association of Economic Development (KAED) for the Product Development Initiative Program (PDI). Forty-seven applications for the PDI grant funds were received statewide, and of these applications, 23 were selected for the site visit phase including Richmond. The Richmond visit was Wednesday.

He said that if approved, the grant will secure 50% matching funds for a site ready development (land grading) project in the Richmond Industrial Park 3. The city will supply the local match for the project, which is earmarked for $300,000.

“By getting the grant funds and implementing the project, if we get the funding, it will increase the marketability of the front part of the park very significantly,” Stipes said.

He added that by doing this land grading, they would be able to speed up construction within the park. Also, he said, new marketing signage was installed in the Richmond Industrial Park South 3 in August. As of Tuesday, 152 acres remain for sale in the park.

In terms of workforce development, Stipes reported there are currently more than 4,000 jobs in the Richmond area that are attributed to the industrial and manufacturing plants and related operations located here in the local community.

His report states the city and RIDC have been assisting the Madison County Schools to complete plans for new career centers and are helping to assemble industry representatives to offer curriculum recommendations for the centers.

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