Taxpayers may have lost millions from an investment in a failed factory in Jackson County.
An auction was held on July 13 to sell equipment, paid for by taxpayers, which was leased to a company called Carbonyx Inc. at a facility in Millwood, West Virginia.
Details about exactly how much taxpayers lost, and where the funds for the failed eff ort came from, are still unclear.
Carbonyx Inc., a Texas-based company, announced plans to build a $250 million facility in West Virginia in 2013. The company said they had invented a new technology to manufacture coke for steelmaking. At the time, company representatives claimed their process offered a lower-cost option, with less impact on the environment because it used chemicals rather than heat to make coke.
According to news reports the West Virginia Economic Development Authority (EDA) approved a 10-year $15 million loan for the company just hours before the announcement.
The planned multi-million-dollar facility was to create 60 full-time jobs in Jackson County. Construction began but was never completed and the
facility never operated. Local union construction workers had hoped to see employment opportunities, but none were realized.
News reports say a similar Carbonyx project in Gary, Indiana was cancelled by US Steel in 2014. The report says $210 million had been spent in the failed attempt to build an alternative coke production facility.
The next year an equipment lease agreement was signed in August of 2015 between Carbonyx and the Jackson County Development Authority.
A public notice about the auction stated the equipment is owned by the Jackson County Development Authority. Minutes from an August 2020 meeting of the WV Water Development Authority state the money was loaned by the Infrastructure and Development Council Fund to the WV EDA.
“It appears the WV EDA borrowed money from the IJDC and then gave it or lent it to the Jackson County Development Authority for this equipment, but we don’t really know because there is little transparency,” said Steve White, ACT Director. “Could the Jackson County Development Authority have bought defunct equipment from the Gary, Indiana site?” asked White. “One thing is clear, when our government
makes a bad business deal, we the taxpayers are the ones left with the bill.”