- Braidy Industries has selected Industrial Project Innovation LLC (IPI) as construction manager for the Ashland, Kentucky, Braidy Atlas LLC $1.6 billion aluminum rolling mill project. IPI will be responsible for program planning, construction management, project cost and schedule control, according to Aluminum Insider. IPI joins the existing team of Kiewit Construction, SMS Group and EBNER Industrieofenbau GmbH Construction.
- The 2.5 million-square-foot facility, which is the country’s first greenfield aluminum rolling mill to be built in 35 years, broke ground in June and should be complete in 2020. The building of the plant will create more than 1,000 construction jobs.
- The CSX railroad runs through the property and Interstate 64 connects the site to large automotive and aerospace customers, which the facility will serve by claiming to be the lowest cost producer of milled aluminum sheet and plate for the automotive industry and ultra-high strength alloys for the aerospace industry.
This manufacturing plant is the latest in a hot market for the industrial sector. Numbers posted in the first half of 2018 showed the industrial segment posting a 35% increase compared to the same time period in 2017. Some of that impressive gain is thanks to energy-related projects with price tags in the many billions of dollars, such as Shell’s $6 billion cracker plant in Pennsylvania, a $9.4 billion petrochemical plant in Louisiana and a $10 billion Exxon Mobil Texas ethane steam cracker plant.
Foxxconn Technology Group’s $10 billion, 120,000-square-foot campus in Wisconsin also has affected those numbers. The group has 37 contractors under its employ to perform various scopes of work or provide services.
Each of these projects also provides a major boost in construction jobs, helping to contribute to the 4.7% increase, or 330,000 new jobs, in construction employment throughout the past year. A net 30,000 of those jobs were new as of October, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors' most recent jobs report. Total construction employment now tops 7.3 million, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, which is the highest number since April 2008, while unemployment for job seekers with construction experience hit a record low of 3.6%.
Finding enough qualified workers, however, to fill these positions remains a challenge. In an AGC and Autodesk survey in August, 80% of the 2,500 respondents indicated they are having a tough time filling hourly craft positions, while 56% reported difficulties in filling salaried positions. Most firms don’t expect that difficulty to ease anytime soon. AGC retooled its workforce development plan for the first time in five years, which encourages federal officials to take steps such as doubling funding for career and technical education and allowing more people with construction skills to legally enter the country.