Berkshire Hathaway invests $500 million in new manufacturing plant in West Virginia | News, Sports, Jobs

State Sen. Glenn Jeffries, D-Putnam, right, speaks about a letter he sent to Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett about investing in West Virginia. Buffett’s company, BHE Renewables, plans to build a titanium manufacturing plant in Jackson County.

CHARLESTON — A long-shuttered aluminum fabrication plant in Ravenswood will be given new life making titanium products for the aerospace industry thanks to companies owned by famed investor Warren Buffett.

Governor Jim Justice, lawmakers and state officials gathered at the West Virginia Culture Center on Tuesday to welcome BHE Renewables and Precision Castparts Corp. in West Virginia.

The two companies, owned by Berkshire Hathaway, are buying more than 2,000 acres at the former Century Aluminum site in Jackson County to build a modern solar-powered titanium smelting facility.

Companies are calling it an industrial site powered by a renewable energy microgrid, the first of its kind, representing an investment of $500 million.

“This is another big announcement in this state that speaks to all the different things that we’re doing, how we’re diversifying our state and moving forward in all ways,” Justice said. “I said over and over again that I was going to take you on a rocket ride. “For God’s sake, these people are building the rockets.”

Titanium products from the new PCC facility will be used by the aerospace industry and other customers, said Alicia Knapp, president and CEO of BHE Renewables.

“As a Berkshire Hathaway Energy business, I would tell you that we are uniquely qualified to deliver on this project and we are thrilled to partner with Precision Castparts and the State of West Virginia to deliver on this project and truly revitalize the Jackson County.”

Products made at the former Century Aluminum site would also be used by other Berkshire Hathaway companies, such as PCC’s Timet plant in Jefferson County, Ohio. Timet builds parts for airplanes.

“This facility will be built and will essentially be the primary metal smelting facility that will ultimately power this facility in Toronto, Ohio, said PCC President Steven Wright. “We are really excited to get started with this investment and to supply it with renewable energy.

Century Aluminum was established in 1954 and closed in 2009. Applied Partners of New Jersey purchased the plant assets in 2017, but ownership returned to the state in 2020. The value of Century’s former ownership Aluminum is around $25 million.

The West Virginia Legislature passed a bill Monday in a one-day special session creating two 2,250-acre high-impact industrial enterprise development districts. The districts aim to encourage the siting and construction of large-scale industrial and manufacturing plants where the facilities require access to renewable sources of electricity.

The State Economic Development Authority entered into an agreement with BHE Renewables for the use of the Century Aluminum property, and an agreement with PCC to establish the High Impact Industrial Business Development District and work with PCC to recruit new businesses for the site.

Mitch Carmichael, cabinet secretary for the Department of Commerce and former Senate speaker and Jackson County legislator, said the deal would breathe new life into a facility where his own father worked.

“When these jobs are created, it changes people’s lives. It affects families and future generations,” Carmichael said. “I found my father’s name tag that he wore for 35 years on the property. It makes a difference in people’s lives.

In 2020, a group of Democratic lawmakers led by State Senator Glenn Jeffries, D-Putnam, wrote a letter to several investors, including Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett, encouraging them to invest in Virginia- Western. This led to a phone call between Jeffries and representatives from Berkshire Hathaway

“When I sent the letter to Mr. Buffett, I didn’t expect him to look at it,” Jeffries said. “Finally, we have set up a project… The economic impact in this region will be enormous. The endorsement that will come from this aeronautical company is beyond what I can express.

The plant is expected to hire up to 200 jobs to start up and up to 1,000 jobs once it is operational, not including construction work. Of the. Jonathan Pinson, R-Mason, said the facility will have a positive effect on the entire region.

“What you find is for the whole region, it’s an incredible encouragement because it’s a generational change for this community,” Pinson said. “A community that was once so focused on the aluminum industry now has the ability to reach beyond to turn the page and find the niche of the aerospace industry in Jackson County and surrounding counties.”

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