LEWISBURG — Developers who are promising nearly 100 jobs in a brand new manufacturing plant in employment-thirsty Greenbrier County have obtained official support for construction of an access road to a 42-acre parcel at Harts Run.
In addition to being the future site of the West Virginia Great Barrel Company’s 90,000-square-foot production facility, the Harts Run location that will be served by the proposed public road also contains another 22 acres available for development.
“It’s a great location,” Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation executive director Andrew Hagy told county commissioners Tuesday.
Hagy noted the entire swath of land that will be open for industrial development with the construction of the proposed road has the added appeal of water and sewer service, along with easy access to I-64.
Although correctly identified as being in the Harts Run area, the tract on which the barrel plant will be built is inside the White Sulphur Springs city limits.
Commissioners readily agreed to sign a resolution of application for $150,000 in Industrial Access Road Fund grant money to push the project forward.
The Division of Highways (DOH) will absorb the remaining $400,000 (estimated) cost of the road, but only after the Great Barrel Company’s manufacturing facility is “certified,” according to James A. Mosby of the West Virginia Development Office.
He did not specify what steps are necessary to achieve certification.
If construction of the facility is delayed, DOH may come back to the county for surety, probably in the form of a bond, before tackling the road project, Mosby cautioned, although he said he doesn’t anticipate any delays.
“We expect this to move forward,” he said.
Bill Cornett, one of the founding members of the consortium involved in the Great Barrel Company, offered commissioners a quick update on the project.
He said bids on the plant’s construction will be solicited in another couple of weeks, with plans to break ground at the Harts Run site by early June.
Custom-made equipment for the facility has already been ordered so that it will be ready for installation in the spring of 2019, Cornett said.
The company began a lumber milling operation in Gap Mills in September, Cornett said.
That operation is gearing up to quintuple production, for which it will add 20 more employees, he noted.
The milled lumber will need to dry for at least a year before it can be brought to the Harts Run plant to be crafted into whiskey barrels by the “close to 100” employees at that location, Cornett said.
Construction of the plant should take around eight months, and another two or three months will be consumed by the installation of the equipment, he estimated.
Cornett expects the first barrel to roll off the line in late May or early June 2019.