By Curtis Johnson
Published: Oct. 20, 2023 at 12:54 PM EDT
APPLE GROVE, W.Va. (WSAZ) — Nucor held its official groundbreaking ceremony Friday for its new scrap-fed electric arc furnace steel sheet mill to be located in the Mason County community of Apple Grove.
Samantha Saunders is an Apple Grove native and aspiring engineer. The company’s announcement, in 2022, that it would locate in her hometown prompted her to call its corporate office. Now she is a paid intern for the company with big dreams.
“This area, it’s my home and it’s really what I love, but the opportunities are slim,” she told WSAZ NewsChannel 3. “When this project was announced, it’s like my ‘Ah-ha’ moment. Like, ‘This is it.’ You know this is a great opportunity.”
Friday’s event featured remarks from Nucor executives and federal, state and local elected officials.
“People are going to see an explosion they can’t even imagine,” U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told WSAZ.
The line of people holding shovels at the groundbreaking ceremony was the length of seven football fields, an official world record as adjudicated Friday by Guinness World Records.
Nucor recently received the final permit it needed to begin construction on its $3.1 billion steel mill.
It will be Nucor’s seventh steel mill, helping the Fortune 500 company reach its largest markets in the Midwest and Northeast.
“We build a facility, where we want to make a home. We look for communities that share Nucor’s values of family, trust and teamwork,” Rex Query, Nucor’s executive vice president for sheet products and talent resources, told attendees.
Query estimates every job created at the Nucor mill will create four to five other jobs in the area. At 800 full-time positions when production begins, that could mean big things for Mason County.
“It’s going to help the schools, it’s going to help the tax base, which means better infrastructure,” U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., told WSAZ. “There’s already plans — restaurants being opened, there’s going to be more hotel space here because there’s going to be visiting people to come in and see. It’s just the sky’s the limit.”
The company has already established construction offices, temporary housing for construction workers and continues doing site prep work, but it couldn’t begin construction at the site until it had received that last permit.
For Saunders, who remembers driving past the empty field every day to high school, “it’s a hope for tomorrow, if nothing else. I really can’t wait to see what this does for the area.”
Company officials said work will begin immediately following the groundbreaking on what is expected to be two years of construction. It is expected to create 2,000 construction jobs.