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WVa lawmakers take up tax incentive for manufacturing

By JOHN RABY Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s Senate on Monday approved a tax incentive for a potential industrial manufacturing project in anticipation of a major jobs announcement.

Gov. Jim Justice said in his special session proclamation Saturday night that the tax incentive would be for potential major future industrial development in the state. The incentive would be based upon “very significant investment and employment thresholds” for labor and heavy industrial facilities, he said.

The senators, meeting in a special session called by Justice, also voted to transfer funds to the state Department of Economic Development from various agencies, which then were allocated unappropriated federal funds. The House of Delegates advanced its versions of the legislation to second readings before adjourning Monday night.

Justice said the funding appropriations “will pay untold dividends in recruiting businesses, their employees and families, and further private investment in West Virginia.”

“When we find a good prospect offering investment, jobs, and growth, therefore, it is paramount that the state does its best to compete for that business — for investment, jobs, and growth,” Justice said.

Justice will give his State of the State speech Wednesday night, when he said he plans to make the announcement.

In September, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Nucor Corp. said it was looking to build a $2.7 billion steel mill in Ohio, Pennsylvania or West Virginia. The company also said in December that it was scouting for a site to build a $350 million rebar facility.

A steelmaking operation would mark a big boost for that industry in the state after decades of declines.

Weirton Steel, which operated a nearly 800-acre property, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2003. Cleveland-Cliffs now makes tin-plated products on the site, where employment tumbled from 6,100 in 1994 to less than 900 now.

Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, once among the 10 largest U.S. steel producers, was sold earlier this century. A former facility in Beech Bottom now is used to make aluminum scrap to produce coils, and one in Follansbee is a coke-making operation.