Tri-State companies react to possible tariffs

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A major aluminum producer in western Kentucky is preparing to add hundreds of jobs if the tariffs are put in place. But other industries, worried what tariffs could do to them.

As production continues at Century Aluminum’s Hawesville plant, so do plans for possibly adding 300 new jobs.

“I think that would be great if it happens,” says Ginny DeJarnette who lives by the plant.  She says if it happens, it can boost the county’s economy.

“They’ve always done well up until now. Hopefully they’ll get back to get the rest of Hancock County going again,” she says.

Jesse Gary, Executive V.P. for Century Aluminum, says the hundreds of new jobs, and a $100 million investment in the plant, will start if the tariffs are enacted. He says the tariffs wouldn’t hurt other businesses or the economy as some predict.

“We actually don’t think that there will be any negative effect of the downstream producers, or to the economy,” Gary says. “The reason we know that is by the time aluminum gets in to any product a consumer uses, there’s actually very little aluminum in that final product.”

While Century officials are hopeful to add jobs here, other Kentucky businesses say they’re concerned about tariffs being placed by countries overseas on their businesses. European Union officials say they could put tariffs on bourbon and other U.S. goods as a response. Jacob Call, master distiller & operations manager for O.Z. Tyler Distillery, hopes their industry doesn’t get caught up in a trade war.

“Most of the distilleries here, a lot of us ship internationally. Bourbon is a very international product right now. So, it wouldn’t be really good for anyone right now,” Call says.

Alcoa joined other U.S. aluminum in sending president trump a letter expressing their concerns about the impact of tariffs on their industry. The Aluminum Association says it would prefer exemptions for key trading partners, including Canada and the European Union, while coming down harder on China.

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(This story was originally published on March 7, 2018)

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