AP News

By ADAM BEAM

ASHLAND, Ky. (AP) — Things fall through for Chris Jackson.

A construction job, promised if he completed a carpentry program, vanished two weeks before his exit exam. A coveted, $100,000-a-year union job at a steel mill disappeared when the plant closed.

Now a businessman is promising him — and more than 130 others — a job at an aluminum mill in eastern Kentucky if he can complete a two-year degree program with at least a B average and no positive drug tests. But the mill is not built, and its financing is not complete. It’s a big risk for Jackson, a 41-year-old who turned down two other jobs hundreds of miles away for the chance to stay in his hometown.

It’s also a risk for Kentucky taxpayers. The state has offered its usual package of economic incentives to the company, Braidy Industries. But in a rare move, the state legislature unanimously approved a $15 million investment in the project, making taxpayers partial owners of the mill. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, seeking re-election in 2019, has touted the project as evidence of his leadership to bring jobs to Appalachia, where steady work that pays well has been hard to find…