HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — A European-based company that is building a factory in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia came to Huntington to share their story and their struggles in getting the project started. Rockwool's new facility is it's second in the united states. The company makes stone wool insulation and other building materials.
Huntington Regional Chamber members are learning about Rockwool, the company's history and hurdles in building a plant in the Eastern Panhandle with some concerned about the tax incentives to attract companies like this possibly going away.
"West Virginia is already behind in this kind of offering. If we have less tools in our tool kit to offer businesses to move to West Virginia that is going to hurt us here in this region," said Bill Bissett, President/CEO, Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce.
During the event ten protesters gathered outside to speak out against the company, claiming Rockwool will harm the environment.
"They release toxic chemicals in the air. They ruin the water. They pollute a lot. We need jobs but we don't need jobs that are going to cost people's health," said Barbara Garnett, one of the protesters.
"These are accusations that are not based on any factual foundation in any way, no empirical evidence from any of our history indicates anything like that," said Michael Zarin, V.P. of Group Communications, Rockwool.
Zarin says the company scheduled four public meetings about plans to build the plant, but says too many folks didn't want to listen.
"That is fair enough they don't want a factory, but what is not really very fair to the broader population is to dress that up in concerns for health and the environment," said Zarin.
"At this time there has been no conversations about moving Rockwool to the Huntington region," said Bissett, adding that includes moving any Rockwool's divisions to the area as well.
Rockwool's plant in the Eastern Panhandle is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year.