Jefferson County Development Authority Addresses Misinformation about Rockwool
July 31, 2018
The Jefferson County Development Authority (JCDA) is addressing the misinformation circulating throughout the community about the process in which Rockwool chose to locate its new manufacturing facility in Ranson, West Virginia.
The JCDA works with individual leads and prospects and consults closely with the West Virginia Development Office to respond to requests for information about properties within a designated geographical area. Often these requests come from site selection consultants. Companies use site selection consultants to identify necessary criteria, such as property availability and railway access, and to protect their identity during the initial location search. This company identity confidentiality is a very common practice. It is also common practice during this selection period for a project code name to be used. The use of code names protects the company from its search being revealed to competitors and generally protects proprietary information. When site selectors review all proposals, they narrow the scope to a few for further review. After a site is finally chosen (this process can take several months or longer), the project and the company name are announced to the public. The company identification occurs before permits are applied for and comment periods commence, giving the public time to obtain information about the company.
In the case of Rockwool, the project was announced more than a year ago, on July 6, 2017, by the City of Ranson, the West Virginia Development Office, and the JCDA. In addition, the announcement was publicized in local, state, and national media outlets. The company began applying for various permits through the City of Ranson and through the state of West Virginia. There have been numerous public city and county meetings, as well as newspaper, radio, and television coverage of the project. Rockwool also sent a mailing to all households in and within two miles of Ranson. None of the permits were issued prior to the public announcement that Rockwool desired to locate its plant in Ranson.
To see first-hand how the manufacturing facility operates, several representatives from the state, county, and City of Ranson have visited the Rockwool facility in Mississippi, independent of one another, and have all come back with the same impression. The plant is extremely clean, employees are happy and proud to work there, and the community is proud to have them there. None of the participants noted any negative aspects from their visits. Rockwool is known internationally to be environmentally conscious and in fact, as part of their presentations, talk about their commitment to the United Nations sustainability goals.
The site in Ranson, at 460,000 square feet, is smaller than the Mississippi facility (at about 610,000 square feet). Rockwool will use much of the same environmental abatement equipment that is in operation at the Mississippi plant, which has successfully shown compliance with federal and state air quality requirements. There have been no violations since opening that location in 2014. In the experience of JCDA, Rockwool has been honest, transparent, and highly professional in all ways, and remains committed to being environmentally conscious.
The JCDA understands that the community has concerns about the project and respects the opinions of those who are concerned. The JCDA is hopeful that concerned citizens make an effort to obtain all of the facts about this plant and consider those facts rather than simply accepting certain misinformation that is being published via social media and otherwise. The JCDA is made up of citizens of Jefferson County, all of whom care about Jefferson County and its citizens. While reasonable people may disagree respectfully regarding the desirability or impact of the Rockwool plant, the JCDA would like to be clear that nothing about this project was done in secret to conceal information from the public, or to avoid scrutiny or protest. Any assertion that there was an attempt to circumvent public input is completely baseless.
The JCDA continues to work toward a wide range of economic development progress for Jefferson County. There has been no attempt to focus on heavy industry. In fact, the JCDA continues to work on high tech, green agriculture, and other opportunities in an effort to provide good jobs for our residents and save them a long commute. Despite social media posts to the contrary, there are currently no other heavy industrial projects under consideration by JCDA for the county.
The JCDA welcomes any questions about this project. We will be happy to speak with any citizen who has questions and will make every effort to give or find correct, honest answers. Please contact Nicolas Diehl, JCDA executive director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Information about Rockwool