(The Center Square) – West Virginia will be the home for Virgin Hyperloop’s new 800-acre, $500 million certification center and testing tube, the company announced Thursday in a joint news conference with Gov. Jim Justice and lawmakers.
The center will be located in Grant and Tucker counties, and the project is expected to provide between 150 and 200 engineering jobs and up to 13,000 local jobs in construction, manufacturing, operations and maintenance.
Justice’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the details of the agreement or what financial incentives the company would receive.
Virgin Hyperloop works on innovating mass transportation through hyperloop technology, which allows a pod to travel through a sealed tube with low air pressure without being affected by air resistance or friction. Proponents say this technology could provide ground transportation at 760 mph, substantially beating current passenger ground and air travel on time.
“Today is a fantastic day for the state of West Virginia, and I’d like to be the first to officially welcome the folks from Virgin Hyperloop to their new home,” Justice said in a statement. “For years, I have been saying that West Virginia is the best kept secret on the East Coast, and it’s true. Just look at this announcement and all it will bring to our state – investment, jobs, and tremendous growth. It’s a true honor and privilege to be selected as the site for the Hyperloop Certification Center and lead the nation in this next step forward for transportation. When we approached Virgin Hyperloop, I told them that we would do everything we could to bring this opportunity to West Virginia. We look forward to working with the Virgin Hyperloop team to create a lasting partnership for years to come.”
Virgin Hyperloop CEO Jay Walder said the company’s technology will help propel the country forward.
“Particularly as we look to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, it’s clear that we need a 21st century solution that will propel us forward, allowing us to not just rebuild, but actually evolve.” Walder said. “Hyperloop is that solution, and we look forward to working with our partners across the country – in places like West Virginia, Ohio, Texas, Missouri, Washington, and North Carolina – to connect the country from coast to coast.”
The company plans to achieve safety certification by 2025 and run commercial operations by 2030. It plans to build its first hyperloop system in India.
Lawmakers from both parties, including the state’s two U.S. senators, Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, support the company’s decision to move into West Virginia and helped work on the deal.