The “Secret” Deal Between West Virginia and Rockwool for $2.2 Million in Free Money

A deeper look at the state taxpayer millions going to Rockwool directly.

Rockwool is grabbing $2.2 million in our tax dollars directly from the West Virginia treasury.

The public didn't know about this agreement until it was provided in response to a Freedom Of Information request.  Its existence was specifically held as “secret” as a condition of the MOU.  The details are set out in the MOU document, but the highights are as follows:

In September, 2017 the West Virginia Development Office of the WV Department of Commerce entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Roxul USA Inc. (aka Rockwool) giving Roxul 2.2 million dollars in a “free money” loan, to spend on whatever it wishes, as long as sometime within the first five years it spends $150,000,000.00 on the construction of the facility and employs “approximately” 140 full time equivalent (FTE) employees, or at least 120.  

The MOU sets out the commitments by WV DOC, as follows:  

  • WVDO will provide, facilitate the provision of the economic development assistance described in the MOU, and Roxul will satisfy the Project Thresholds.
  • Project Threshold – a. Employ approximately 140, and in no event less than 120, full time equivalent at the facility, who earn an “average annual salary or wage of $46,000.00 excluding paid benefits not subject to WV income tax….” (This is the ONLY threshold in this MOU)
  • The construction of the facility will begin within 90 days of receipt of acceptable Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) air permit from the WV DEP, or the following May 1, whichever is later.  Full operation will occur five years from the issuance of Certificate of occupancy or June 1, 2024 whichever is sooner.
  • The State of WV will issue a forgivable loan to ROXUL in the principal amount of $2,200,000.00…. forgiveness of the loan subject to Roxul meeting or exceeding the Employment Threshold. 
  • The WVDO …. will provide sufficient funding to the City of Ranson…. for adequate sewer service.
  • The WVDO …will provide sufficient funding to Jefferson Utilities to provide adequate water service to the property line, at no cost to Roxul.
  • Extension of Additional Utilities …
  • The MOU acknowledges the PILOT Agreement support from the WVDO
  • The WVDoT will administer, design, construct and fund necessary and reasonable access modification to the state hiway system.
  • The WV will also provide a $2,000.00 per employee training grant to Roxul for each employee it hires for the first three years, qualifying for up to $240,000.00 in any one year, based on 120 employees.
  • Pursuant to the MOU Roxul qualifies for (unidentified) tax credits, entitlements, exemptions, and assistance under WV law, including sales tax exemption, for building materials and process equipment by ROXUL’s suppliers and contractors….and raw materials and manufacturing process equipment.
  • WVDO shall work cooperatively with Roxul to access “all the benefits associated with this statutory incentive.”
  • Contingencies.  These are the contingencies that lets Roxul get out of the deal if they want to or run into a problem with:
    • Site Acquisition 
    • Zoning and Land Use 
    • Voluntary Remediation Program from the WV DEP
    • Board Approval from the Roxul Board of Directors
    • Third Party Commitments (from City of Ranson and Jefferson County)

Notably, the parties agree that neither party shall issue any press release or make public announcements relating to this Agreement without the other party’s prior written approval…except they have to follow the law…. And, as a final point,  

If Rockwool expands it can apply for more government assistance….

The significance of the MOU is twofold:  first, it is extraordinary that there is yet another deal between Roxul and West Virginia for financial benefits at the cost of the taxpayers without their informed consent, and second, the fact that the 2.2 million “free money” loan has not been disclosed by Rockwool to the public, at any meeting, again belies the lack of good faith or transparency of both Rookwool and our elected and appointed officials.  This agreement represents an outrage to the manner in which our money is being given away without our knowledge or consent.  Where is the oversight from our state elected officials?