CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice hinted this week at the possibility of investment from a company in Wales, indicating proximity to WVU would be important.
WVU’s president acknowledged the university is working to attract businesses to the area, but the president of Monongalia County Commission said he’d not heard about this possibility.
Justice first made reference to Wales during a Tuesday news conference. He then provided a few more details during an appearance Wednesday on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”
“There’s a manufacturer that’s come in that has an illumination process that has incredibly high-tech jobs,” the governor said.
“And they’re wanting to locate that somewhere relatively close to West Virginia University. Believe it or not, these jobs are unbelievably high-paying jobs, and many, many, many of the people who work there are Ph.D.s.”
He said that knowledge base is one reason “They’re looking to locate that illumination factory or process right outside of WVU, somewhere they can tap into the university.”
Justice said another aspect of the company might be interested in locating in southern West Virginia because of proximity to coal, which it could use for a component in batteries.
“So the long and the short of it is, we’re chasing every one of these to the ground, and there’s lots and lots of people looking at West Virginia,” Justice said.
He acknowledged, though, that the investment is just a possibility.
“We’re a long ways away,” he said. “It’s just in its infancy right now.”
WVU President Gordon Gee acknowledged the manufacturing prospect during his own appearance on “Talkline” Wednesday.
“Oh yeah. We’re working very hard to attract business and industry,” Gee said. “One of the things we need to do is go knock on doors.”
Gee added, “West Virginia has not been the most dramatic place, by the numbers, but that has changed over the last few years. We need to tell that story.”
Monongalia County Commission President Tom Bloom had not heard specifics about talks with any manufacturer with ties to Wales. But he welcomed the interest.
“I am always thrilled to see companies interested in investing in our community,” Bloom said. “We continue to grow, and I believe our area offers benefits to companies that you cannot find anywhere else in this state.”