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Long anticipated groundbreaking ceremony held for Nucor Steel West Virginia

By Autumn Shelton, WV Press Association

APPLE GROVE, W.Va. – Nucor Steel West Virginia is now one step closer to the completion of a $3.1 billion steel mill in Mason County following a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday.

During the ceremony, in addition to Nucor representatives, United States Senators Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., along with Gov. Justice, W.Va. Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, and Mason County Development Authority Executive Director John Musgrave addressed those in attendance. 

Leon Topalian, chair, president and CEO of Nucor, was the first to address the crowd. 

“I’m really excited to be standing before you knowing that this is going to be Nucor’s largest investment in history, that we will build here in Mason County,” Topalian said. “For those of you not familiar with Nucor, we are the largest steel manufacturer in North America, and the largest recycler of any material in the western hemisphere. We’ve been in steel now for nearly 60 years, and over that time we’ve grown to 26 steel mills and hundreds of facilities across 40 states that produce raw materials for downstream steel products for our nation’s economy.” 

Topalian continued that Nucor makes steel through a scrap metal recycling process considered “among the cleanest and most sustainable in the world.”

“This mill will be one of the most technologically advanced, and will have one of the lowest carbon footprints of any sheet mill in the world,” Topalian said. 

Gov. Justice was the next to take the podium. 

In January 2022, Gov. Justice made the announcement that Charlotte, NC, based Nucor Corporation had selected Mason County as its new home for a “state-of-the-art” sheet steel mill to be built on a 1,700-acre site, bringing thousands of temporary construction jobs to the area as well as 800 full-time positions. 

“This started with a dream,” Justice said, noting that the state had to first create a surplus before work could begin to compete with other states and bring business to West Virginia. 

“Then, we all had to come together, you know, whether it be the Senate, the House or the Governor and all of us with a real, real, real vision and strategy, and we did it,” Justice continued. “And, now, I would say, ‘By God, the world knows where West Virginia is.’” 

According to information provided by Nucor, “the nonunion workforce is among the highest paid and most productive in the steel industry,” and will be responsible for the production of up to 3 million tons of steel sheet per year for numerous markets, including automotive, appliance, agricultural and construction. 

Sen. Manchin spoke following Justice, and shared that when he first heard about Nucor, he was unsure if they would actually open a mill in West Virginia. However, after speaking with their leadership on a Zoom call, he began to think differently. 

“I’m thinking, this company is for real,” Manchin recalled, before adding, “What you’ve seen here is only the beginning, because everything that follows them–all the ancillary businesses that’s needed to support this mill–is coming. All the homes that are needed to support the people that want to live and work here are coming.” 

Manchin said he was glad that the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers was able to issue Nucor their final permit, a Section 404 permit, back in July, so construction could get underway. 

Sen. Capito added that she believes this facility will be “transformational.” 

“I think what you can tell by the spirit of a company . . . is how you do events, how you treat your communities,” Capito said. “One of the first things Nucor did when they came and made the announcement in January 2022, was to give some money to the Mason County School system. That shows you where their priorities are, and they know what’s important to us as we raise our families.” 

W.Va. Senate President Craig Blair also welcomed Nucor to West Virginia, and praised state legislators for their work in making the state “attractive” to businesses. 

“We are making it so our youth, each and every one of you, can stay here and have gainful employment,” Blair said. “If you didn’t know, our number one export in our state, in the past, has not been coal. It’s been our youth. Our best and brightest have left this state for gainful employment. That’s not happening anymore. Job after job after job is coming to the state of West Virginia.” 

In addressing Mason County leadership, Blair said that growth often causes problems. However, it is important to continue to work together to overcome them. 

“Let me tell you, don’t let it get you down. This growth is a positive thing–very much so,” Blair stated. “But, the county itself needs to understand–don’t put up roadblocks.” 

“We’re gonna operate in this state at the speed of business, not the speed of government,” Blair said. 

Additionally, Musgrave said that groundbreaking ceremonies began years ago when farmers would break ground to plant seeds. 

“Today, we are here to plant seeds as well,” Musgrave said. “We’re gonna break this ground, and we’re gonna plant the seeds [for] business, jobs, families, new homes, increased tax base, and to, most of all, provide an opportunity for these young people that Nucor has brought here today.” 

“It’s so wonderful to have this company here,” Musgrave concluded. 

Project construction is estimated to take about two years. The site is located south of Point Pleasant along the Ohio River.

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