U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo has announced the department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $3 million grant to the city of Henderson, Kentucky, to aid in the completion of the Pratt paper mill, which officially broke ground in December 2021.
The grant is funded by the American Rescue Plan and the EDA's Coal Communities Commitment.
According to the EDA, the funds will go toward the construction of a high-pressure natural gas line, providing service to Pratt's upcoming paper mill and box factory and promoting job creation in a region the EDA says has been impacted by declining coal use. The investment will be matched with $2.8 million in local funds and, according to grantee estimates, is expected to create 320 jobs and generate $400 million in private investment.
"The Economic Development Administration is dedicated to working with communities to support their locally-driven strategies to recover and rebuild from the pandemic," says Alejandra Y. Castillo, assistant secretary of commerce for economic development. "The project will provide critical infrastructure upgrades needed to support the region's manufacturing industry and spur private investment in Kentucky."
Pratt announced its $400 million paper mill project in July 2021. The company plans to build two facilities totaling 1.15 million square feet in Henderson County. At the time of the announcement, Pratt said its initial investment would support the construction of a 450,000-square-foot paper mill that will manufacture 100-percent-recycled products. The company said it plans to make a future investment to build a 700-square-foot corrugator plant to produce corrugated sheet and boxes using paper sourced from its new mill.
The paper mill is expected to be completed in September 2023, and Henderson Economic Development Director Missy Vanderpool tells WFIE 14 News in Evansville, Indiana, that meeting Pratt's timeline was critical during negotiations, adding, "Now that we've been awarded the grant, we can move forward with those upgrades."
"They're a very large gas user," Vanderpool says of Pratt. "The infrastructure we had in the area was not enough."
The corrugator facility is expected to be completed by the end of 2026.
"This federal EDA grant will bring much-needed improvements to the city of Henderson's utility service," Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says. "Beyond the increased reliability and safety this new high-pressure natural gas line will bring, building modern infrastructure will support the dramatic investment in jobs in the region and attract further economic development in this community."