Nucor official says West Virginia welcome “overwhelming”

APPLE GROVE, W.Va. — John Farris, the vice president and general manager at Nucor Steel West Virginia, said he got a good early feeling about Mason County when the company first started to look at the location for the steelmaker’s new plant a few months ago.

John Farris

Farris said he was impressed with the people he met.

“When I got to meet some of the good folks in Mason County, West Virginia, I was telling my colleagues, Necor folks that were with me, ‘this feels like a Nucor place right here,'” Farris remembered during an appearance Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline.”

Farris a native of western Kentucky who began as an electrician at Nucor 30 years ago, said he could sense Mason County was filled with good, solid, hard-working people.

“I drive by the site there, of course it’s a field now, but in my mind I can see a steel mill,” Farris said.

Farris was in Huntington Thursday meeting with new Marshall University President Brad Smith, a day after the company announced it would a large mill at Apple Grove in Mason County. He said meetings over the last several months with officials from the Justice administration, legislative leaders and the state Development Office have been extremely productive.

“It’s just unbelievable how efficient, how professional and how welcoming they were,” Farris said.

The state legislature passed a handful of bills earlier this week creating tax incentives for the $2.7 billion investment and promising $315 million in development costs that won’t be allocated until Nucor meets certain investment benchmarks.

John Musgrave

Mason County Economic Development Authority Executive Director John Musgrave said during a Thursday appearance on “Talkline.” that Nucor “checks all the boxes.” He said the company will create great jobs, beginning with approximately 800 employees, along with spin-off investments.

“They’ll be ancillary industries that come in, in other words, the supply chain. We have other big sites here in Mason County. We think this is going to be a magnet,” Musgrave said.

A study shows that for every job created by Nucor there are five related jobs. The pay at Nucor will average $80,000 a year.

Musgrave said Nucor presented a $1 million check to the Mason County Board of Education Wednesday and donated a total of $100,000 to the county’s four food banks.

Fields said Nucor becomes engrained in its community.

“Whether it’s the donating of money or the donating of our time or labor, Nucor has a history of being very involved in the community,” he said on “Talkline.” “We feel like we’re very fortunate and very privileged to be part of the Mason County community not the other way around. We want to earn our keep and be as much help as we possibly can.”

The plant will continue to make the cooled steel products Nucor has been known for producing since the early 1970s. Products that are used in making automobiles, HVAC units and in the construction industry. The plants use scrap steel to produce its steel sheets.

Farris said Nucor is known for a creating a smaller carbon footprint in its production process. The company produces 25% of the nation’s steel products but only 8% of the country’s steel making carbon emissions.

The company will also produce its new Econiq product in Mason County.

“It’s actually a carbon neutral steel product and we shipped our first coil late last week. Our other sheet mills, the sisters to this mill, are already starting development on those and we’ll absolutely be taking that to the next level at Nucor West Virginia,” Farris said.

Wall Street reporter Bob Teeter, who covers the steel industry, said Thursday that Nucor is a good get for West Virginia. He said having a 1,400 acre flat site on the Ohio River was an obvious key selling point. Teeter said that would help Nucor receive supplies and ship products at a lower cost.

Teeter said Nucor is also sending a message to its competitors US Steel and Cleveland Cliffs with its move into West Virginia.

“Nucor has become a lot more aggressive about being in this market and competing against two big competitors. So this mill will be in the middle of both of those companies,” Teeter said.

Farris said during the little time he’s spent in West Virginia he’s been told of promises made by some companies for development that never materialized. He said that’s not the way Nucor operates.

“We’ve made a commitment to come to the state of West Virginia, the money is there, and we’re working through permitting and all and hopeful mid-year, this year, you’ll be able to drive by that site and you’ll see dozers and trackhoes and concrete being poured,” Farris said.

Farris said he looks forward to bringing 800 to 1,000 new families into the Nucor family at the Mason County plant.

“There’s nothing more honorable than that,” Farris said.

Farris said Nucor is non-union but does use union trades during construction.

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