Pratt Industries breaks ground on $500 million paper mill, box factory in Henderson
HENDERSON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear joined local officials and executives from Pratt Industries in Henderson to break ground on the company’s $500 million paper mill and box factory, which will create 321 well-paying jobs across the two facilities and serves as the largest investment in the region in more than 25 years.
“As work continues to help our Western Kentucky communities heal after last week’s unprecedented storm, the arrival of Pratt Industries to this region will be an important part of that recovery process,” Gov. Beshear said. “Not only is this new operation going to create quality job opportunities for hundreds of Kentucky residents, the generosity shown by Pratt leadership during this difficult time also proves the company will be a perfect fit for Henderson and the surrounding area. I want to thank Anthony Pratt and his team for their commitment to the commonwealth. This is the start of a great partnership that will improve the lives of families throughout the region.”
Pratt broke ground on the first of two facilities that will total 1.15 million square feet of space along Kentucky Highway 425 in Henderson County. The company earlier this year announced a $400 million investment, which has since grown to $500 million to support construction of a 500,000-square-foot box factory. It will produce corrugated sheet and boxes, including pizza boxes and packaging for major distributors and big box stores with paper sourced from the new state-of-the-art, 650,000-square-foot paper mill, which produces 100% recycled paper. Construction of the box factory will be complete by 2023. Following today’s groundbreaking, company leaders anticipate the project will contribute to approximately 700 construction jobs over the years ahead.
The new location expands Pratt’s footprint in the commonwealth, which currently includes a Pratt Display manufacturing plant established in Hebron in 2011, which employs over 200 Kentuckians.
“It’s an honor to join Gov. Beshear and the community of Henderson as we break ground on our $500 million green manufacturing investment,” said Anthony Pratt, executive chairman of Pratt Industries. “Our Henderson paper mill and box factory is the single biggest investment our company has ever made and will create 1,000 jobs, including American, green-collar manufacturing and construction jobs. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Western Kentucky at this difficult time and in support of those communities, I’m honored to pledge $1 million to assist with tornado relief and recovery efforts in Kentucky. I commend Gov. Beshear for his leadership during this disaster and commit to supporting Kentucky as it recovers from this tragic tornado outbreak. Gov. Beshear’s leadership has made Kentucky a great place to invest in and we see further investment potential in this dynamic state. I believe in regional manufacturing. It’s the heart and soul of America, and there is no better place than Kentucky.”
Georgia-based Pratt Industries produces lightweight, high-strength containerboard and corrugated board sourced from 100% recycled paper. The company’s operations include paper mills in Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, New York and Ohio. Pratt Industries was established more than 30 years ago and employs more than 10,000 people in nearly 30 states.
Pratt’s new operation will support Kentucky’s rapidly growing logistics and distribution industry, which employs nearly 80,000 people at roughly 590 facilities statewide. Since the start of 2020, distribution and logistics companies committed to creating more than 2,700 full-time, Kentucky-resident jobs over the coming years with more than 50 facility expansions and new-location projects statewide. Those projects include $440 million in private-sector investment in the commonwealth.
State Sen. Robby Mills said the region has the resources to ensure Pratt’s long-term success.
“This is a great day for our community. Pratt Paper’s investment will bring fundamental benefit with it,” Sen. Mills said. “We all know how blessed Kentucky is with vast waterways, railways and roadways. Those qualities certainly make Kentucky, and cities like Henderson, appealing to industries that need to move products. We are also a state blessed with bright minds that make Kentucky shine. I want to thank and congratulate everyone involved in making today possible, especially those with Henderson Economic Development and local leaders who did impressive work to secure this investment.
Henderson County Judge/Executive Brad Schneider said he is eager to see the facility open in the near future.
“As exciting as Pratt’s announcement in July was, to celebrate the beginning of the project’s construction is even more thrilling,” Judge/Executive Schneider said. “And Henderson County can’t wait for the day we cut a ribbon when the plant opens for business. A thousand ‘thank yous’ to Mr. Pratt and his amazing team for believing in our community. We look forward to being strong partners for decades to come.”
Henderson Mayor Steve Austin expressed excitement for today’s event.
“I think everyone is ready for the Pratt groundbreaking, which will also bring about the start of construction,” Mayor Austin said. “Our local folks and the Pratt boots on the ground continue to make things as fluid as possible for the extremely large construction project. Lots to do, but everyone is working together and willing.”
Missy Vanderpool, executive director of Henderson Economic Development, said today’s groundbreaking is the result of a team effort.
“Today is an exciting day for Henderson. The Henderson team has continued to work tirelessly on the Pratt Paper project,” Vanderpool said. “We could not be more proud of the Henderson team for their efforts. We feel very fortunate to have Pratt Paper as part of our community.”
Pratt’s groundbreaking and planned job creation adds to recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger in response to the effects of the pandemic.
This year, the commonwealth has shattered every economic development record in the books. Year-to-date, private-sector new-location and expansion announcements include a record $11 billion in total planned investment and commitments to create a record 17,000 full-time jobs across the coming years. Through September, Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage for projects statewide is $24.15 before benefits, a 10% increase over the previous year.
In September, Gov. Beshear, Ford Motor Company Executive Chair Bill Ford and CEO Jim Farley and Dong-Seob Jee, president of SK Innovation’s battery business, announced the single largest economic development project in the history of the commonwealth, celebrating a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs and places Kentucky at the forefront of the automotive industry’s future.
In July, thanks to strong fiscal management by the Beshear administration, the state budget office reported the commonwealth ended the 2021 fiscal year with a general fund surplus of over $1.1 billion – the highest ever in the commonwealth – and a 10.9% increase in general fund receipts to $12.8 billion.
In May, Moody’s Analytics published a positive economic outlook for Kentucky, noting mass vaccination as the driving force behind a sustained recovery in consumer services. The state’s recovery, Moody’s said, benefited from earlier reopening efforts and increased demand for manufactured goods over services. The report also found Kentucky’s manufacturing industry outperformed the nation’s since the national downturn last year.
Fitch Ratings in May improved the state’s financial outlook to stable, reflecting the commonwealth’s solid economic recovery. The state’s April sales tax receipts set an all-time monthly record at $486.5 million, as did vehicle usage tax receipts at over $64 million.
In March, Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for 2020 positioned Kentucky atop the South Central region, and third nationally, for qualifying projects per capita. The commonwealth also placed seventh overall in total projects, the highest of any state with a population under 5 million. Site Selection also placed Kentucky in a tie for fifth in its 2021 Prosperity Cup rankings, positioning the state among the national leaders for business climate.
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in July preliminarily approved an incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide tax incentives based on the company’s investment and annual job and wage targets.
Additionally, KEDFA approved Pratt for tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.
In addition, Pratt can receive resources from Kentucky’s workforce service providers. Those include no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job-training incentives.
For more information on Pratt Industries, visit PrattIndustries.com.