Old West Virginia Steel Mill Becomes a Green-Energy Powerhouse

WEIRTON, W.Va.—For decades, iron ore was shipped into a sprawling steel mill on the banks of the Ohio River near Pittsburgh. Iron deliveries will resume soon at the 55-acre site, this time as a key ingredient in batteries fueled by green energy.

Instead of being turned into steel, the iron rusts when exposed to oxygen. The chemical reaction discharges electricity that can power homes and businesses for 100 consecutive hours, according to the company.

When these iron batteries are tapped out, they will be recharged with renewable power, turning the rust back into iron. The batteries are designed to absorb large amounts of electricity when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, adding resiliency to power grids. The Wall Street Journal

The return-to-office debate is raging, but remote worker incentives are still in play

West Virginia first launched a program to attract remote workers back in April 2021 and has received 33,000 applications over the past two-plus years.

Since then, 272 people have made the move to the state, taking advantage of West Virginia’s Ascend program that offers $12,000 in relocation cash over a two-year period, a $2,500 outdoor recreation package, free coworking space and more

The state ultimately aims to lure 1,000 new residents over a six-year period. It recently added the New River Gorge area to its list of four other areas in the state that are part of the program, which was funded by a $25 million gift to West Virginia University from former Intuit executive chairman and current Marshall University President Brad D. Smith and his wife, Alys.

West Virginia is one of dozens of states and cities across the country trying to lure remote workers with cash, perks and even free babysitting after the widespread shift to to remote work caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Houston Business Journal

Frontier planning $100 million investment into bringing more fiber internet to West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Frontier says they plan to invest $100 million into bringing fiber internet to more than 100,000 more locations around West Virginia in 2023.

They say this is part of Frontier’s partnership with the West Virginia Economic Development Office of Broadband. The Office of Broadband says they are bringing reliable internet to underserved areas of West Virginia

Frontier says fiber will be put in areas such as Elkins, Fairmont, Grafton, Hinton, Logan, Nitro, Princeton, St. Albans, Weirton and Woodsdale. DC News Now

West Virginia as a Risk Capital Investor

For years, we have heard the question asked in West Virginia: What is the state doing to improve and diversify its economy? The question is rooted in the complaint that the state’s economy is tied too tightly to extraction industries.

State leaders have heard that question as well. However, when they see what they believe is an opportunity to create economic development, another question arises: Is the state qualified to pick economic winners and losers?

And yet another question then:  If the state is going to be an investor in an economic development project, how much of the public’s money should it risk? Metro News

A sure winner for economic development

This week, the West Virginia Legislature considers HB 2882, a bill that will bring 750 advanced manufacturing jobs to Weirton in Hancock County.

The West Virginia Department of Economic Development (WVDED) is proud to have crafted a unique incentive package to win this transaction for West Virginia and enable Form Energy to build a state-of-the-art, technologically advanced manufacturing facility creating 750 new, full-time jobs in our state.

Throughout America, thousands of new jobs are being created in domestic energy manufacturing. With Form Energy, we have an opportunity to lead the country once again in energy production. This company, utilizing innovative, home-grown technology will reduce America’s reliance on unfriendly countries for vital materials in the battery production supply chain. The Register-Herald

WVa Senate passes bill tightening unemployment benefit rules

People in West Virginia would be permitted to collect unemployment benefits for fewer weeks and be required do more to prove they are searching for work to remain benefit-eligible under a bill passed Monday by the state Senate.

The proposed legislation would reduce the maximum time an unemployed person could collect benefits from 26 weeks to a maximum of 12 to 20 weeks, depending on the state unemployment rate. It also would mandate that people collecting the benefits complete at least four “work search activities” a week.

Currently, state law says people can receive benefits if they are “doing that which a reasonably prudent person in his or her circumstances would do in seeking work.” It doesn’t set specific parameters. AP

$3 billion economic development project on tap for West Virginia

Another major energy project is coming to West Virginia. At a news conference led by U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, it was announced that Competitive Power Ventures would be making a $3 billion investment in the Mountain State. It will build an 1,800 megawatt natural gas-fueled power plant. While officials today would not reveal the exact location, numerous sources tell our newsroom it will be in Doddridge County. wfxrtv.com

The ‘mountain has been moved’; development continues at the North Central West Virginia Airport

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — A celebration was held Tuesday at the North Central West Virginia Airport for the completion of Phase I excavation work for the Aerotech Business Park. The $10.5 million project moved a mountain to level land for the business park, new terminal building and additional aprons to include lighting. Current Harrison County commissioner and airport board member David Hinkle, said a few years ago the West Virginia National Guard began moving the estimated three million cubic yards of dirt, but they were redirected by mission requirements. WVMetroNews.com

Gov. Justice holds groundbreaking ceremony for new section of Coalfields Expressway

WELCH, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia Department of Transportation officials today for a ceremony to celebrate the start of work on a major road project to connect the Town of Welch with the Coalfields Expressway. “The Coalfields Expressway has been in the making for 30-plus years now. It should have been done a long time ago; before I even walked in the door as Governor. But now, we’re making it happen. We’re getting this done for the people of southern West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “I believe in southern West Virginia with all my heart. It’s home to me. And I believe in how much the Coalfields Expressway means to this area. Today is another big step toward us running across the finish line.” WV.gov

Gov. Justice announces over $18.1 million in ARC grant awards for projects across West Virginia

Gov. Jim Justice announced over $18.1 million in Appalachian Regional Commission grant funding recommendations for 14 projects in communities across West Virginia. The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments across the Appalachian region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia. WVDN.com