RAVENSWOOD — West Virginia state leaders joined the top executives from Berkshire Hathaway Energy Renewables, Precision Castparts Corp. and Our Next Energy Inc. Saturday to break ground on a project they said would build the future of American manufacturing on a foundation of clean energy.

A groundbreaking event was held on more than 2,000 acres of land at the former Century Aluminum site in Jackson County.

The new titanium melt facility will employ about 200 people to manufacture titanium products for the aerospace and other industries.

Mitch Carmichael, secretary of the West Virginia Department of Economic Development, said this was all sparked by a letter Sen. Glenn Jeffries, R-Putnam, sent to Warren Buffet, chairperson of Berkshire Hathaway.

“Because Glenn (Jeffries) took the initiative, and has continued to work on this project and others for economic development, we are here today,” Carmichael said. “And we owe him a great Jackson County welcome for that incredible effort.”

Jeffries called it a “new beginning.”

“It’s a new beginning here in Ravenswood. It’s a new beginning here in Jackson County, and I really do see this area exploding again to the way it was 20, 30 years ago,” state Sen. Glenn Jeffries, R-Putnam, said.

In addition to the original $500 million investment, ONE announced it will build a new Aries Grid factory on the site. The factory will bring an additional $22 million in investment to the project and generate 105 more jobs. Scheduled to open in 2025, the factory will build Aries Grid utility-scale battery storage systems using Michigan-made lithium iron phosphate battery cells.

Mujeeb Ijaz, CEO and founder of ONE, said this represents an historic transition to renewable energy-based manufacturing in the U.S. and will set a standard for others to follow. He said the factory will be producing batteries by 2025.

“We will be moving forward with an existing 40,000 square foot building, so that helps us accelerate the installation of this grid factory, battery factory,” Ijaz said. “The first employees will be hired at the beginning of next year, the first quarter. We will be moving the factory equipment in, in the second quarter, and qualifying that equipment. We’ll be producing Aries Grid batteries for the site at Ravenswood in the beginning of 2025.”

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.,chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said this was recognition West Virginia is a smart energy investment.

“These types of investments and the businesses and jobs they are bringing to West Virginia are exactly what I had in mind when I wrote the Inflation Reduction Act and led negotiations for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” Manchin said. “I can’t wait to see how today’s announcement will benefit Jackson County and the entire Mountain State. Companies across the country are recognizing that when it comes to energy and manufacturing, there is no better place to do business than West Virginia.”

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito talked about the commitment BHE immediately made in the community.

“They came in with a commitment to the nonprofits here in Jackson County. To help improve the quality of life, to realize that some people need more help than others,” Capito said. “Children need to have the inspiration to get into S.T.E.M. careers. That are going to lead to jobs that are here. All of these kinds of things. So, this is not just an economic investment, it’s an investment from their hearts, into our hearts. So, for that I’m deeply appreciative.”

Rep. Carol Miller, R-1st, said West Virginia has always been known as an energy state.

“It’s a wonderful time to move that forward,” Miller said. “With all this brand new technology we have, and the aerospace that we’re working on in West Virginia, this all just fits together.”

Gov. Jim Justice said things about to happen to Jackson County and West Virginia are unbelievable. He said no one wanted economic growth in the state more than he.

“What is waking and happening in this great state, right now, is the world is awakening to a different West Virginia,” Justice said. “They really are.”

Justice said the state doesn’t want to forget the coal miners and gas workers who have worked for decades.

“We don’t want to forget the contribution to what they do for this state at all times,” Justice said. “But we want to be a state that embraces the alternatives, and embraces the opportunities for our future in so many different ways.”

Justice said the state Legislature has been real contributors to making this happen.

“They deserve a lot of credit, as well. Honestly, we could not be here today without everybody pulling the rope. It’s an amazing day for a guy who as a little kid, when he visited his grandparents, didn’t have indoor plumbing. And for me, to be here in this position with you today, and see all the accomplishments of all these great people, I’m really, really proud.”