HENDERSON, Ky. (From news reports) -- When Anthony Pratt came across the world to Henderson to break ground Thursday for the big Pratt Paper recycling mill and box plant it will build here, he brought some million-dollar surprises.
The Australian, who is the global executive chairman of parent company Pratt Industries/Visy, stunned the assembled crowd of Hendersonians by announcing his company will donate $1 million to the state's Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund. Gov. Andy Beshear, who was also on hand for the groundbreaking, said earlier that the state will take no administrative expenses out of what is donated so that all the money will go to help Western Kentucky recover from last Friday night's devastating tornadoes.
In his next breath, Pratt said his company will also be donating $1 million to the Tri-State Food Bank. That organization distributes food to nonprofit organizations in 33 counties in the region, including Christian Community Outreach in Henderson, to help feed those in danger of going hungry.
Those surprises each drew a standing ovation from the crowd at the mill site on the Kentucky 425/South Bypass.
But it was Beshear who unveiled the biggest surprise: Pratt Paper will be investing $500 million into the 320-employee complex it will build in Henderson, $100 million more than first announced last July.
The Pratt complex will include what the governor described as "the cleanest, greenest 100% recycled paper mill in the country and it's right here in Henderson, Kentucky."
"Pratt Industries will make Henderson, Kentucky, the center of the universe for recycled paper," Beshear declared.
That 650,000-square-foot mill will employ approximately 120 people and be completed by 2023.
In addition, Pratt will construct a 500,000-square-foot corrugator plant to produce corrugated sheet and boxes for major distributors and big box stores, using paper sourced from the new paper mill. Construction of the corrugator plant will be completed by 2023 and employ 200 people.
Construction of both plants will start early next year.