Treplar will invest $50 million into the state and is opening a facility in Martinsburg. Justice said the facility will be up in running in the next couple of months.
“Treplar is currently testing a new generation of food packing material that is 100% home compostable,” the Republican governor said.
The company mission is to “help food businesses seamlessly transition away from banned single-use plastic to a more sustainable product that benefits our industry — and the planet,” according to its website.
Treplar makes food retailer trays, plates and more using a technology known as “XPET,” a sustainable solution to hard-to-recycle polystyrene trays.
“Our new project is a catalyst for change,” said Murat Ogulcan, president of Treplar, who thanked the governor for his support. “We found a new home in West Virginia.”
The governor’s office said the company did not receive any incentives to launch in West Virginia.
The summit has so far been packed with economic announcements for the state, including a $800 million restart for the Pleasants Power Plant in St. Marys and a program that looks to keep Marshall and West Virginia University graduates in the state.
The event, which has been attended by state leaders and business owners, wraps up Friday.
Many of the announcements have centered on reversing the state’s population decline — the fastest in the country — by providing jobs and incentives to remain in state.
“What’s going on in this state, it’s absolutely a movement toward jobs and opportunity for our kids,” said Justice, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat in the 2024 election.
Following the announcement, Justice said he was leaving the resort to survey flood damage in the state. The governor declared a state of emergency in five West Virginia counties — Kanawha, Braxton, Calhoun, Clay and Roane counties — because of heavy rain and flooding.
Comments Off on Latest White Oaks Project, with Near $3 Million Price Tag, Ready to Wrap up for $10 Million-Plus Business
A multi-million-dollar project at the White Oaks development that began in January is still going strong eight months later. Not only going strong, but nearly finished.
Since the start of the project in an area described as White Oaks Phase II-A, roughly 350,000 cubic yards of dirt has been moved at the site. Most of the work is being done to facilitate the future home of Jenkins Subaru and Jenkins Hyundai.
“The contractor is just about ready to wrap things up and should be putting the finishing touches on the earth work,” said Austin Thrasher, the project manager representing High Tech Corridor Development who is responsible for development at White Oaks. “As we get into (this)week, I look for them to be spreading the topsoil.”
Once finished there will be plenty of new, flat acreage available. The Jenkins family will assume 17.7 acres at White Oaks, 13.7 of which will be usable. The additional four acres will be hillside. All of the land is visible from the interstate.
The Jenkins family of dealerships in Bridgeport will eventually move from their current location on Lodgeville Road and it is anticipated to begin construction in 2025. The current Jenkins property, which can be seen from the northbound side of I-79, is roughly eight acres. The current building is roughly 4,600 square feet. The new site will house buildings for both Subaru and Hyundai. The size of those buildings will be determined at the time of construction with input from the manufacturer. The project, according to the Jenkins family, will top $10 million.
The entire work area will cover 40 acres, City Engineer Beth Fox said earlier this year. For those not familiar with the site work, it is in an area stretching from Route 131 to an area near The Thrasher Group building that is visible from the interstate.
As part of the earth moving, another flat parcel was created, Thrasher said. He said it covers roughly seven acres and is separate from what the Jenkins family will obtain.
Access will be able to be reached to the Jenkins acreage through White Oaks Boulevard. It can also be reached, said Thrasher, from a lower area before the main White Oaks entrance off of Saltwell Road known as Wildlife Lane. Those won’t be the only entrances to the new acreage.
“We’ll be working on a turn lane to access the additional seven-acre parcel in the future; a left turn lad directly into that pad,” said Thrasher. “It is down from the assisted living facility you can see and during the construction there will always be one lane open so it should not disrupt traffic. If it does, it will be insignificant.”
That leads to the question of whether the new pad was built to meet the needs of a client that was coming aboard. The answer, said Thrasher, is no.
“That’s up for sale. We’ve had a few looks at it, but nothing significant or solid as far as something serious,” said Thrasher.
Doss Enterprises handled the $2,851,282.70 earth-moving project, along with the placing of some infrastructure, as a lot of infrastructure was already in place. The Thrasher Group has handled the engineering.
Original Article by Jeff Toquinto on connect-bridgeport.com
Comments Off on State Adds $70 Million Bridge to its Morgantown Industrial Park Connectivity Plans
Due to the complexities of the federal regulatory process, the state of West Virginia is worried it can’t make good on its promise to deliver improved interstate access to Mountaintop Beverage via a new I-79 Harmony Grove interchange in a timely fashion.
To remedy that, the West Virginia Division of Highways now says it’s going to build a $70 million bridge over the Monongahela River by the end of 2025 in addition to building the nearby Harmony Grove exit, currently estimated at $41 million.
The key phrase there is “in addition to.”
“It’s not a give and take. It’s a give and give situation,” Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Director Bill Austin said. “They are committed, from everything they’ve told us, to Harmony Grove and to this bridge idea.”
Local officials have been digesting this information for about a week. It was made public on Wednesday.
But it’s been brewing in Charleston at least since May.
That, according to Austin, is when he heard secondhand that the DOH had hired a consultant under the auspices of the Harmony Grove project to conduct a feasibility study.
On July 18, an advertisement ran in the Charleston Gazette-Mail seeking a firm to produce right-of-way plans and construction contract plans for a bridge connecting U.S. 119 to the industrial park.
On July 19, the DOH showed up with the preliminary design study in hand to inform local officials of its intentions and task the MPO Policy Board with selecting a location for the new bridge.
When it meets in August, the MPO Policy Board will select from:
A bridge crossing the river south of the Morgantown Lock and north of the BFS gas station on Don Knotts Boulevard. This option would include a more basic bridge but require a complete reconstruction of River Road. A portion of the existing River Road would remain to provide access to homes and businesses.
A crossing that would meet U.S. 119 north of Scott Avenue and include an intersection with Smithtown Road. This option would require a more expensive bridge but connect directly to the southern end of the industrial park’s street network.
Due to topographical challenges, a third option crossing the river at Green Bag Road was eliminated.
According to data provided Wednesday, all options were estimated to fall between $64 million and $71 million.
Ultimately, Wednesday’s announcement begs a question – will the state actually build two projects currently estimated north of $110 million to better connect the industrial park?
Both Austin and Morgantown Area Partnership President and CEO Russ Rogerson say they believe it will.
One, Rogerson said, the state has committed to doing so. Two, he continued, the Harmony Grove project will be primarily financed locally through the new Morgantown Industrial Park TIF district.
“At some point you have to say ‘We trust you’ or ‘we don’t trust you.’ If the option is not allowing the state to meet the commitment they made to Mountaintop – if we say no – then we’re automatically saying Mountaintop is not going to expand and we’re not going to have anything for the industrial park. At that point we might as well fold up shop,” Austin said. “Everybody is taking it at face value. I understand the skepticism. I was skeptical.”
In May, Mountaintop Beverage CEO Jeffrey Sokal told The Dominion Post the 330,000 square-foot bottling facility wouldn’t be in West Virginia without infrastructure commitments from the state — specifically the new Harmony Grove interchange.
On Wednesday, he said he believes the state will honor that commitment, allowing both Mountaintop Beverage and the surrounding park to grow.
“On a long-term basis, [Morgantown Industrial Park] access to both 68 via the bridge and 79 via Harmony Grove makes this industrial site and the 100 or so acres of undeveloped property extremely attractive to companies like Mountaintop,” Sokal said. “The governor, the DOH and local representatives like Senator Mike Oliverio and Delegate Joe Statler should be commended for making this happen.”
Monongalia County Commission President Tom Bloom said he too is hopeful everything the DOH has promised will come to fruition.
“They have continued to state that this administration is in support of moving ahead on both projects,” he said. “We have requested to get that in writing, and we have gotten as much assurance as we can get without getting it in writing.”
Original Article by Ben Conley on dominionpost.com
Comments Off on Mountain Valley Pipeline Receives FERC Approval to Resume Construction
Federal regulators have given the Mountain Valley Pipeline the green light to restart construction.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order Wednesday allowing developers to “proceed with all construction activities.”
Work on the project is expected to resume “shortly,” said Natalie Cox, director of communications and corporate affairs for project developers Equitrans Midstream Corp., in an email to WV News.
“We expect the first of several forward-construction crews to begin work on the right of way shortly, and Mountain Valley continues to target project completion by year-end 2023,” she said.
US Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., celebrated the news on Twitter.
“I just received confirmation that the Mountain Valley Pipeline has received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to resume all construction activities,” she said in a tweet posted Wednesday afternoon. “This was the final step needed for the MVP to be completed. Great news for WV and American energy!”
On Friday, Capito announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had issued the final federal permit needed to restart construction.
“The Mountain Valley Pipeline is set to receive its final Sec. 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers!” she said in a tweet. “This critical step forward is because of a provision I helped include in the Fiscal Responsibility Act that will expedite the MVP’s completion.”
On June 16, Gov. Jim Justice said the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection had issued the MVP’s final state-level permit.
“To the best of my ability, I’m not aware of anything else that is another step that people are waiting on,” he said. “If there be another step, we’ll be on it. I believe that construction has the possibility of starting real, real, real soon.”
The Fiscal Responsibility Act, the package passed by Congress earlier this month following an impasse over raising the nation’s borrowing limit, mandated all federal permits required for the stalled pipeline to resume construction be issued by last Saturday.
The MVP project was initially started in 2014. Equitrans Midstream said at the time, the pipeline was expected to be completed by the end of 2018 at an overall cost of around $3.5 billion.
The company recently said the current estimated total cost is approximately $6.6 billion.
In West Virginia, the MVP’s route runs through Braxton, Doddridge, Fayette, Greenbrier, Harrison, Lewis, Monroe, Nicholas, Summers, Webster and Wetzel counties.
Comments Off on Mountaintop Beverage Begins Production in Morgantown Industrial Park
Got milk? Mountaintop Beverage does.
Got a 330,000 square-foot state-of-the-art automated aseptic bottling facility capable of processing staggering amounts of raw dairy into an array of products with up to a one-year shelf life?
Mountaintop has that too.
And it’s just getting started.
On Friday, the first trucks carrying shelf-stable milk from the Mountaintop Beverage facility rolled away from the Morgantown Industrial Park to locations across the country.
Not bad when you consider the site where the massive factory stands was literally a mountaintop in August of 2021.
Since then, 1.7 million cubic yards of dirt was relocated, 50,000 tons of concrete was set in place and a dizzying tangle of stainless-steel piping — eight miles worth — was pieced together to form the plant’s circulatory system.
“This is quite a place,” Mountaintop Beverage CEO Jeffrey Sokal said.
And it’s got quite a mission.
“The goal we have is to help rebuild the farming infrastructure and to rebuild dairy. Dairy production in the state of West Virginia is down roughly by half over the last 10 years,” Sokal said. “The state has very strong FFA and 4-H programs. So, for folks who want to farm, this factory is going to be here for decades.”
That’s why recruiting Sokal and his team from western New York to West Virginia became a priority for Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt and West Virginia Dairy Association Deputy Commissioner Joe Hatton.
Sokal credits both men primarily for bringing Mountaintop Beverage to the Mountain State and notes hundreds of individuals, from the governor’s office to the county commission, have gone the extra mile to help make it happen.
“We’ve felt welcome right from the start and made to feel like this project is important to the state and the community. So many people have gone out of their way to push this project,” he said.
“And we want to be here. There are industrial parks with shovel-ready sites all over Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, but we wanted to be here because of what this facility can do for this state, the community, the ag community and the dairy industry. We went to a lot of trouble to clear this site. So, anybody who questions why we came here, we came here to make a difference.”
Today, about one-third of the 330,000 square-foot factory built as Phase I of the overall project is in production. It currently has a workforce of 150 people. Sokal anticipates the entire facility will be operational by year’s end, with more than 200 employees producing shelf-stable milk, coffee products, protein shakes and plant-based beverages.
A big emphasis for the company will be school milk.
The last year saw the closure of several large production facilities, creating shortages of school milk all over the country, and particularly in the southeast.
Sokal explained the school milk production capacity coming online at Mountaintop Beverage is the largest in the United States by a factor of three.
And that will represent just one of the facility’s three production lines.
Currently, the plant is receiving its milk from Somerset County, Pa.
Even in its limited startup capacity, the plant already has a demand nearly twice what West Virginia farms can provide.
Further, there’s already a dairy processor in the state, United Dairy.
“If I’m taking all the milk from local farms, then I’m taking milk away from their business. If I’m bidding the schools, which are typically supplied by United, then I’m taking business and jobs away from Wheeling, Charleston and Uniontown, where they operate. That doesn’t do the area any good. We’re just shuffling deck chairs,” he said.
“What we want to do is rebuild. Initially, we’re getting our milk from Somerset Valley and over time as we rebuild the dairy infrastructure and help build up dairy farming in and around the state, then we can do that cooperatively with them.”
And while Sokal and his team are figuratively building the state’s dairy industry, they’ll be physically building more production capacity.
Sokal anticipates construction on an additional 170,000 square feet of production space, or Phase II, could begin as early as this summer and come online in 2025. After that, Phase III.
“We designed a 750,000 square-foot factory. We just haven’t built it all yet,” he said.
Playing a critical role in those expansion plans is the question of interstate access, meaning the construction of the new Harmony Grove interchange connecting I-79 to the industrial park.
Glenn Adrian, co-owner of the Morgantown Industrial Park as part of Enrout Properties, said he’s hopeful the new interchange will be under construction in 2024 and open in 2025.
Sokal admitted the pace at which this process is moving has been a frustration.
“Bottom line is we wouldn’t have come if we didn’t get that commitment from the state. We’re here. We feel like we’ve held up our end. So it’s certainly taken a little longer than we would have hoped, but I think they’re making material progress now,” he said. “For us, you can’t really overstate how important that is.”
Original Article by Ben Conley on The Dominion Post.com
Comments Off on West Virginia Aerospace Industry Set to Take Off With Launch of WVU Small Satellite Center
West Virginia is now on its way toward launching the state’s second small satellite. A team from West Virginia University and the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium is poised to turn that achievement into a massive boost for the aerospace industry statewide by taking the first steps toward opening the West Virginia Small Satellite Center of Excellence.
The SmallSat Center will work with businesses and other organizations to develop West Virginia’s second small satellite and to help those partners offer services and products to clients who want to fly experiments out to low orbit. As Melanie Page, director of the Space Grant Consortium, put it, “It’s like a ‘Field of Dreams’ for small satellites.”
With the announcement of $911,708 in U.S. Economic Development Administration funding, that mission is a go.
West Virginia’s first small satellite, STF-1, launched from New Zealand in 2018 and vastly exceeded the usual three-month lifespan for a SmallSat – it’s still up there, transmitting from outer space, more than 1,300 days later. When it came time to capitalize on STF-1’s success, Candy Cordwell, assistant director of the Space Grant Consortium, and Majid Jaridi, former director, envisioned the next SmallSat kickstarting and sustaining an entire industry for aerospace research, products and services in West Virginia.
The EDA’s Assistance to Coal Communities grant goes to projects that advance economic diversification, aerospace manufacturing and STEM training opportunities in areas severely affected by the declining use of coal. In the case of WVU’s initiative, Page said the money will not only support the Innovative Orbital Test Array mission, or IOTA, in which a second SmallSat will be produced and launched as STF-1’s proof of concept, but it will also enable the opening of the SmallSat Center of Excellence.
The Center will be a hub for small satellite research, development, testing, production and commercialization, and “truly an innovation incubator that meets the needs of an industry that meets the needs of customers,” according to David Martinelli, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, who has joined forces with Cordwell and Page to launch the SmallSat Center.
“We’re going to be building satellites in West Virginia,” he said. “As soon as STF-1 was up there for 300 days, people started saying seriously that this is something we should be very proud of and try to capitalize on, and Candy Cordwell and Majid Jaridi came up with the concept of positioning space as an industry for West Virginia. STF-1 was built with West Virginia talent and West Virginia capability. I think that speaks to the likelihood of our success for step two.”
Cordwell said she was thrilled about the project’s potential to kickstart an industry that will have Mountain State residents designing and building satellites destined for the stars.
“This could enable West Virginia to participate in the rapidly growing commercial sector associated with the launch and operation of small satellites,” she said. “The very unique and exciting aspect of this project is that it brings academic, industrial and government partners together to initiate and foster a research center that will bring jobs and economic activities to North Central West Virginia.”
Demand for small satellites is very much on the rise, Page added, with the global market expected to hit more than $3 billion a year and with a robust client base that include governments, companies and research institutions. The SmallSat Center will support West Virginia businesses in serving customers that could range from a telecommunications company to a national cybersecurity program or a research institute monitoring climate change. It will be those clients’ needs that help drive the design of the second-generation IOTA satellite.
Like STF-1, the second SmallSat will be fitted with a flight computer, radio, solar panels and cells, a camera and other instruments for data detection and collection, as well as slots for the satellite’s payload — computer cards that carry the clients’ instructions to the satellite, whether they’re looking to use it to monitor space weather or enable in-car navigation systems.
The IOTA SmallSat may be a three-unit cube satellite, like STF-1, with a form based around three 10-centimeter cubes, or it could be scaled up to a six-unit CubeSat. Or it might take a different form altogether, according to the feedback the SmallSat Center will hear from potential clients and partners.
“Let’s say that a client came to the Center and said, ‘We’re really interested in a satellite that serves a certain need,’” Martinelli said. “What we may do first and foremost is put them in touch with one of our private partners in the state and say, ‘OK, here’s the company that’s ultimately going to build this satellite for you.’ Then we would work with that company to find out what needs to be done, to help them deliver whatever that commercial need is. Our role is to use our talents and facilities and opportunities to fill the innovation gaps to help a West Virginia company serve a client for a small satellite.”
Martinelli relishes the fact that this project is equal parts science and industry, theory and practice.
“What makes this special is that, although West Virginia currently has significant space-related activities, I believe this is the first one that’s truly commercial. West Virginia has research contracts with NASA and related agencies, but the idea of space commercialization and industry in West Virginia is new,” he said.
“We’ve demonstrated we can produce space products in West Virginia. We now have to demonstrate that we can produce space products that have market value, so I want to make sure that from day one the innovation is very intentional in terms of bringing value to as many different industries as possible.”
Cordwell said the SmallSat Center will create 15 new jobs immediately: five at WVU and 10 through the consultant company that will initially be contracted to offer small satellite simulation, design, manufacturing, deployment and management services to the team. Within three to five years, as the center becomes financially self-sustaining, she predicted that the high-wage staff positions will increase to more than 30 jobs in administration, business development, education and advanced aerospace manufacturing.
Martinelli said he believes it won’t be long before West Virginia has a significant need for “computer scientists and engineers of all types – electrical and computer engineers, chemical and aerospace engineers, even structural engineers – as well as analysts, people who know how to work with data. That’s going to be a big part of it because ultimately the value of the satellite is usually data driven. Data is the ultimate product and many emergent companies here will need somebody who knows how to work with data, statisticians and analysts and modelers and mathematicians.”
Page pointed out that, considering West Virginia lost 1,800 technology and science jobs between February and May 2020, making sure those aerospace positions are filled by skilled, trained West Virginians is part of the vision, too.
“If you talk to anyone that’s in engineering or a STEM field, they say two things matter in terms of someone’s decision to follow that career path,” Martinelli said. “No. 1 is that you get to them early. No. 2 is that there’s somebody, maybe a family member or maybe someone else in their life, who works in STEM.”
Martinelli acknowledged that too many youth in West Virginia lack one or both of those opportunities but said he’s passionate about engineering education and growth in STEM.
“We’re going to use the SmallSat Center as an opportunity to hit that aggressively. I certainly will look at all possibilities to showcase what we’re doing to K-12 students,” he said.
“This is the advantage of working with the University, the fact that it gives us not just our research capabilities, but the educational mission as well. We have our clean room and labs where the satellite will be assembled and components tested and so forth. I want to see a parade of students in there on elementary school field trips. I want to see young students going through the facility where they talk to engineers and foster interest in STEM careers.”
Original Article by WVU Today on wvutoday.wvu.edu, July 20, 2022.
“The announcements kind of speak for themselves,” said Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch. “I would say that we’re really on a record pace. From my standpoint, I think you’ll see more of this going forward.”
Mike Graney, deputy commerce secretary and former executive director of the West Virginia Development Office, also believes the best is yet to come.
“We’re just getting started,” he said. “This diversification effort, this intentional effort are really moving the needle forward.”
Other notable recent victories include the expansion of the workforce at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries location in Bridgeport; supply company Klöckner Pentaplast has chosen its production facility in Beaver for its production expansion; and Gruppo Fanti, an Italian metal packaging manufacturing company, has announced plans to open a plant in Weirton.
The staff of the Commerce Department and the Development Office are due much of the credit for the recent successes, Gaunch said.
“We’ve been very intentional, we’ve been strategic, and we’ve been very results-oriented in what we’ve asked our people to do,” he said.
The two agencies have forged meaningful working partnerships with other state agencies, Gaunch said.
“K though 12 education, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Environmental Protection and even to some degree the Department of Heath and Human Resources,” he said. “We’ve learned to work together.”
The Commerce Department and the Development Office also adopted a “regionalized” approach to economic development, one that highlights the existing strengths and resources available in the different parts of the state, Gaunch said.
“When people learn that they can do much more together as a region than they can as an individual city or town or county, then much better things happen,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously changed the way the business of economic development is conducted, but it has also presented unique opportunities, Graney said.
“Traditionally we had attended trade shows and been on missions and visited companies at their headquarters, but we haven’t been able to do that in 10 months and probably won’t be able to do so for the foreseeable future,” he said.
Focus has shifted online, and efforts have been thrown behind an aggressive digital marketing strategy, Graney said.
“It’s curious that we were able to stand up this effort in the face of … totally changing our direction and, frankly, in many ways making us that much more attractive,” he said.
There are several initiatives the two agencies would like to see lawmakers and the governor support in order to further promote economic development efforts in the state, Graney said.
“Because every one of our existing businesses and every one of our prospective acquisition candidates is concerned about workforce, we would like to restore the funding to the Governor’s Guaranteed Workforce effort that was taken away several administrations ago during some lean years,” Graney said.
The program provided new or expanding companies training funds and technical assistance to support effective employee training strategies.
“When we’re making an offer to a new business, they are definitely very interested in that, in particular, if they are represented by a site consultant,” Graney said. “Frankly, every state that we compete against, every state in the union has something very similar to this.”
Another item on the two agencies’ economic development wish list is the creation of a “closing fund,” which would give the state funds to provide final incentives to close a deal, Graney said.
“Many of the states we compete against have a closing fund that allows for that last-minute offer that potentially lures you into locating in West Virginia,” he said. “It may be that another state has a bigger checkbook than we do, and our current methodology for doing that is complicated and very legal fee intensive. We’d like to see a little bit more flexibility there.”
The state also needs to pursue strategies focused on developing build-ready sites, Graney said.
“We still have some challenges with having shovel-ready, buildable sites in the state of West Virginia,” he said. “Often, unfortunately we’re just passed over because we don’t have a site that’s ready to build on.”
Although he agreed that most states tend to have deeper pockets than West Virginia, no one can match its citizens’ work ethic, Gaunch said.
“Nobody out-hustles us, and nobody out-works us,” he said. “We think that we have the advantage there.”
Comments Off on Mylan plant in Morgantown Shutdown planned for July 31
According to MetroNews, Mylan, the pharmaceutical giant that was founded in Morgantown, is closing its plant there next July 31, employees learned this morning on a call.
Full Article Written Below:
A major manufacturer will shut down next summer as Mylan, a pharmaceutical giant founded in West Virginia, folds in with Pfizer’s Upjohn unit.
“We’re quite disturbed and concerned,” Mon0ngalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom said this morning on WAJR Radio. “Our concern is for the workers, the families and the rippling effect it’s going to have on other families, communities and businesses.”
The announcement was made to employees this morning by Peter McCormick, one of the corporate executives. The head of global human resources was on the call as well.
The closure by the generic drug maker means elimination of 1,500 jobs. The layoffs would not take place until the closure date.
“The first thing I thought about were all of our neighbors and their families who will be affected,” Morgantown Mayor Ron Delaney said on WAJR.
The move is part of a 20 percent reduction by the company, which just completed a merger last month with Pfizer Inc.’s Upjohn unit.
“This announcement in no way reflects upon the company’s genuine appreciation for the commitment and work ethic of the employees at Chestnut Ridge. The phasing out of manufacturing operations at this facility was a decision Viatris did not take lightly,” stated Viatris CEO Michael Goettler.
“The site has been producing medicine in Morgantown since 1965 and paved the way for Mylan’s early growth. We are sharing the details of this announcement now in order to provide as much time as possible prior to the closing date to work with federal, state and local leaders to try to identify alternatives for the site outside of the Viatris network that could potentially preserve as many jobs as possible. In the meantime, we remain committed to treating those impacted fairly and with respect.”
The Collins Ferry research and development lab will remain open. “The team at this facility has played a critical role in some of the company’s most important scientific achievements and will continue to do so as Viatris expands its pipeline of complex medicines,” according to the corporate statement.
But the Chestnut Ridge oral solid dose manufacturing facility will be shut down by mid-summer 2021.
On the call this morning, employees learned there will be severance offers available for those who stay until July 31. Offers are to be made on individual basis.
The plant was idled Thursday with employees told to leave any company items such as cell phones or laptops. Late shifts were told not to report. Weekend shifts were also told to stand down.
The idling was to last until this coming Tuesday.
Mylan was co-founded in West Virginia in 1961 by the late Mike Puskar as a small vitamin company that grew into a global generic drug powerhouse.
“The news that Viatris will be closing its manufacturing facility in Morgantown next year is extremely disappointing, all the more so given the company’s long history in West Virginia,” stated Congressman David McKinley, R-W.Va., whose district covers the area.
“Mike Puskar started Mylan from nothing and grew it to be a global leader. The Morgantown facility has been part of that heritage from nearly the beginning. At a time when we should be focusing on bringing manufacturing to America and securing our domestic pharmaceutical supply chain, this decision is a reminder of the challenges we face. Our thoughts are with the families of the 1500 workers who will be impacted. We will do everything we can to help them through this difficult time.”
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., described her reaction as “incredibly disappointed.”
“This is devastating news for the hundreds of hardworking individuals who worked at Mylan that make up the plant’s workforce and the entire community — especially during the holiday season,” Capito stated.
“I will continue to do whatever I can to help the community—whether it’s working with partners at the federal, state, and local levels, to attract new investment to the area or assisting those who have been impacted by the closure.”
Mylan just completed a merger Nov. 16 with Pfizer Inc.’s Upjohn unit to form a new company called Viatris. Mylan chief executive Heather Bresch, daughter of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, retired at the closing. Upjohn group’s president Goettler assumed the chief executive’s post at Viatris.
Viatris, headquartered in Delaware, retained Mylan’s operations center in Cecil, Washington County, Pa., and the plant in Morgantown along with operations centers in Hyderabad, India, and in Shanghai, where Upjohn was based.
At the time, the new company said it was targeting about $1 billion in cost cuts, but hadn’t provided details right away. The combined company has about 45,000 employees.
Viatris in November said it was “currently in the process of defining the specific parameters of the program, including workforce actions and other restructuring activities.”
At the time the company said it would disclose specifics by the end of the year.
Viatris, broadly addressing its downsizing activities, indicated that it would cooperate when possible to soften the blow for communities.
“Wherever feasible, Viatris will seek to find potential buyers for its facilities in order to preserve as many jobs as possible and will work with impacted communities to identify appropriate potential alternatives,” the company stated.
Gov. Jim Justice said he would be on a phone call with Viatris officials this afternoon “in the hopes of coming up with some option or some level of something to try to save these jobs.”
During a broad-ranging briefing, Justice said his administration started getting word of the plant’s peril late Thursday.
“This is a shame beyond belief,” the governor said.
Bloom, the county commissioner speaking on WAJR, expressed hope for a job fair and other attempts to help families. One of his worries was taking the economic blow while there is already a downturn related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is more than a double. It’s a quadruple whammy,” Bloom said.
This is part of ongoing efforts by the company to cut costs. Viatris also announced today it would shut down similar plants in Ireland and Puerto Rico. More cost-cutting efforts are ahead, the company stated.
“Wherever feasible,” the company stated, “Viatris will seek to find potential buyers for its facilities in order to preserve as many jobs as possible and will work with impacted communities to identify appropriate potential alternatives.”
J.D. Wilson, the United Steel Workers International representative, representing 875 members who work at the plant, said the union would continue efforts to try to help workers, even attempting to preserve the jobs if at all possible.
“They’ve been very good jobs held by very hard-working people,” Wilson said on “Talkline.”
Right now, he said, workers are “just trying to get a grasp.”
Mike Caputo, elected last month to represent the area in the state Senate, described the loss of jobs as devastating for employees, their families and surrounding communities.
He said he would work “to convince company officials that closing this facility is the wrong choice.”
“I will urge Senators Manchin and Capito to bring us together as a SWAT team to quickly address this,” stated Caputo, D-Marion.