Two weeks ago, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced a new agreement with BHE Renewables, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy company, to acquire more than 2,000 acres of land in Ravenswood, West Virginia. The project will be a "first-of-its-kind" industrial site powered by a renewable energy microgrid.
The first company on the site will be Precision Castparts, another Berkshire Hathaway business, that plans to build a state-of-the-art titanium melt facility that will only use renewable energy to make titanium products for the aerospace and other industries.
The site is the former home to a Century Aluminum plant and Berkshire is investing more than $500 million to develop the new manufacturing campus.
From the renewable energy microgrid to the renewable titanium supplier, the project sounds promising, but what is perhaps most impressive is that this half-billion dollar windfall came to the state essentially because of an unsolicited letter.
According to West Virginia Public Broadcasting, state senator Glenn Jeffries wrote nine letters to billionaire investors around the world, including Warren Buffett, the head of Berkshire Hathaway. The letter detailed the state's legacy of coal mining and teased the state's potential next chapter with rare earth minerals.
Well, Buffett read the letter, and told Berkshire exec Bill Furman to "get on this." Jeffries was soon giving Furman tours of the state until they discovered the plot in Jackson County.
The Precision Castparts is the first of many new companies headed for the renewable energy industrial park that could become a major aerospace hub in North America. No word on the other eight billionaires, but it goes to show that it never hurts to take a shot.