The new year began with an economic bang and a manufacturing boom in southern West Virginia.
State officials announced in mid-January that two out-of-state companies will open manufacturing facilities in Mason and Kanawha counties, creating hundreds of jobs and investments approaching $3 billion. In exchange, the state is providing the companies with tax breaks and other financial incentives.
Nucor Corp., the biggest steel producer in the United States, will make the largest private investment in state history by constructing a $2.7 billion state-of-the art steel mill along the Ohio River in Mason County.
“We are incredibly excited to be building this new steel mill in West Virginia,” said Leon Topalian, president and chief executive officer of Nucor. “This will be the world’s most advanced sheet steel mill producing the most sustainable steel that will build our nation’s modern 21st century economy.”
Nucor, based in Charlotte, N.C., produces steel by recycling scrap metal in electric arc furnaces, using a process that makes it one of the cleanest steel producers in the world and a leader in sustainable steel production. In addition, the company is one of the largest recyclers in North America.
Once fully operational, the West Virginia facility is expected to create 800 manufacturing jobs with average salaries between $80,000 and $90,000. Construction, which is slated to begin later this year, will create an additional 1,000 jobs. Officials said the steel manufacturing facility should open sometime in 2024.
The mill will be capable of producing up to 3 million tons of sheet steel per year for use in the production of automobiles, appliances, heating and cooling units, and agricultural and construction equipment, among other items.
State officials said the Nucor development will spur additional economic activity in the region. “This is a landmark announcement in the history of our state,” Gov. Jim Justice said. “Nucor’s brand-new facility is going to be a key part of West Virginia’s DNA long into the future. It’s going to change lives by bringing hundreds of great-paying jobs to Mason County, and the economic ripple effects will bring even more goodness to our state.”
The same day as the Nucor announcement, state officials revealed that GreenPower Motor Company of Canada will begin manufacturing zero-emission, all-electric school buses at a former industrial site in South Charleston. Production should begin later this year and will initially create 200 jobs with the potential to create 900 when the plant reaches full capacity.
GreenPower officials predicted the South Charleston operations could have a yearly economic impact of $500 million a year. GreenPower will locate on 9.5 acres and repurpose an 80,000-square-foot facility near the Ordnance Center.
“As we continue to diversity our economy, manufacturing these zero-emission school buses in West Virginia will open up a world of opportunities for our state,” Justice said. “Just as importantly, this development is going to change lives. Not only will it bring hundreds of great-paying jobs to the Kanawha Valley, but the ripple effects on our state’s economy are going to be off the charts.”
GreenPower President Brendan Riley said the Mountain State is a good fit for his company as it expands operations. “West Virginia has shown us to be pro-business state that has a workforce ready to take advantage of clean energy jobs,” Riley said. “As West Virginia’s economy transforms, it is important to provide skilled and high-skilled jobs to help workers make the transition as seamless as possible. Our facility will provide both training and immediate employment opportunities with a competitive wage.”
Charlotte Weber, RCBI director & CEO, said her organization is ready and able to assist both companies with manufacturing and technical expertise, workforce training and quality implementation. RCBI representatives met with officials from both companies while the state was working to attract them to West Virginia and has since reached out to offer assistance.
“What a great day for manufacturing in West Virginia!” Weber said. “RCBI is uniquely positioned to provide the advanced technology and expertise to support Nucor, GreenPower and other manufacturers considering setting up shop in the state. We’re ready to get to work.”
– Jan. 28, 2022