Manchin

By JOE MANCHIN

CHARLESTON -- Jackson County is about to welcome a new world-class manufacturer to the banks of the Ohio.

On March 19, I was delighted to confirm that one of West Virginia's current business partners, Armstrong World Industries, will be expanding in the Mid-Ohio Valley region.

Armstrong World Industries will invest $30 to 35 million to build a state-of-the-art mineral wool plant on property adjacent to the Century Aluminum Co. plant. Mineral wool is a key raw material used in the manufacture of Armstrong's acoustical ceiling tiles. The new plant will be a very significant addition to the Jackson County Maritime and Industrial Centre in Millwood, W.Va.

Armstrong is no stranger to West Virginia and I am so pleased that their partnership with the Mountain State is creating another chapter. This partnership was also possible with the diligent work and collaboration from U.S. Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Robert C. Byrd, along with the work of state and local officials.

Armstrong chose the Millwood site because of competitive electricity rates and its central location, which is easily accessible to raw material suppliers and other Armstrong ceiling manufacturing locations. Our greatest asset is our people and I have assured the company our proven, productive work force will exceed their expectations. The 30,000-square-foot plant will be built on about 18 acres and is scheduled for start-up in mid-2012.

I have said that West Virginia has three things that play to our advantage when it involves luring new business: location, location, location. This is a wonderful location that will enable Armstrong to prosper and I think it speaks volumes about the confidence this world-class company has in our state and our work force.

While building the plant will also create temporary construction jobs, Armstrong will begin the hiring process for its manufacturing operations about one year before the plant is scheduled to open, with training programs for new hires.

Armstrong also operates a flooring plant in Beverly, W.Va., that employs nearly 700. Armstrong World Industries Inc. is a global leader in the design and manufacture of floors, ceilings and cabinets. In 2009, Armstrong's consolidated net sales totaled approximately $2.8 billion. Based in Lancaster, Pa., Armstrong operates 36 plants in nine countries and has approximately 10,800 employees worldwide.

Our state has continued to prove that it is suited to attract business, yield positive returns for willing investors, even during slumps in the national economy. I want to commend the good people at Armstrong for continuing to have faith in West Virginia's work force. This state will continue to advance by meeting businesses at the table and proving that the Mountain State will be a dependable partner, every step of the way.

Manchin is governor of West Virginia.

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