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West Virginia Governor Promises Big Announcement on Economic Development



September 13, 2022 - West Virginians can expect a "big announcement" related to economic development and renewable energy, said Gov. Jim Justice on Monday.

Justice indicated the announcement, which said could come as early as Tuesday, was dependent on the passage of legislation to create the Certified Industrial Businesses Expansion Development Program.

Members of the West Virginia Legislature convened a special session Monday afternoon to consider the legislation. As of 4:30 p.m., the legislation had not been finalized.

The bill would designate two areas, roughly 2,250 acres each, where companies that require access to electricity generated from renewable resources can locate, Justice said.

"Basically, what we're trying to do is be all-welcoming and not miss the opportunities to bring more and more great jobs to West Virginia," Justice said. "There's a big announcement that's right on our doorstep, and we hope to able to do that tomorrow."

"One of my first calls," about the potential legislation was to Chris Hamilton, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, Justice said.

"Because I didn't want the Coal Association folks to not be on our side, and we had a great discussion about that," he said.

Justice didn't name a specific company or location but did say the legislation is needed to secure an investment that is expected to create new jobs in the state.

"These people are not coming to West Virginia unless we have this set up for them," he said. "I think this is a small, small ask for the opportunity that could be coming to this state."

Sources indicate the announcement is at least partly related to the former Century Aluminum Plant in Ravenswood in Jackson County. The plant closed in 2015, and the property was deeded to the state in 2020.