“From the burning ashes we will become the phoenix of West Virginia,” the district official admits that the closure of the Mylan Pharmaceutical facility will have a negative impact on Morgantown, but the city will recover State newspaper news

MORGANTOWN: It had to happen, just not as soon as it happened. These are the thoughts of Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom on the announced closure of the Morgantown Mylan Chestnut Ridge oral solid can manufacturing facility.

“That came; I think we could all see that, ”said Bloom. “But I think it came a few years earlier than I expected.”

The announcement was made on December 11, 2020 by parent company Viatris, about two months after the merger with Mylan Pharmaceuticals. At the time, 1,500 were expected to be laid off and Viatris announced last week 1,431 jobs will be cut pending completion.

City and county officials, as well as other community leaders, have worked together to counter the blow this will have on the area.

“We’re not just losing monetary numbers,” said Bloom. “We’re losing the human element – the trainers, the volunteers, the people who make us a community. That is what I am very afraid of losing. “

Bloom said on the spot that he believes they are doing everything they can.

“I really doubt if there has been a big move by the state to do something until it’s too late,” said Bloom. “You should have asked eight or nine months ago what to do. Why didn’t you work with a number of local officials? “

Founded by philanthropist Milan Puskar, Mylan Pharmaceuticals has been an integral part of the Morgantown community since 1965. This “community-first” approach was over, said Bloom, when the Viatris merger took place.

“I think the concern is that sometimes people don’t realize that we’re a small town in a small state trying to make a global, international company change,” said Bloom. “They have very little or no ties with us and it is extremely difficult.”

Bloom said Morgantown has been fortunate enough to have Milan Puskar and the surrounding area for decades.

“When he passed away in 2011 and the bonds were severed, it happened very quickly,” said Bloom. “It became a global, international giant company that wanted to shut down 20% of its employees, and we were just one name on a board.”

A statement from Viatris said: “The expected date of cessation of production operations is July 31, 2021, after which date, possibly until March 31, 2022, limited wind-up and tighter activities will continue.”

The first round of layoffs on July 31 affected 482 non-union workers and 764 unionized workers.

John Deskins, director of the Bureau of Business and Economics at West Virginia University, said the plant closure would be a severe blow to the regional economy.

“Given that this is an exporting industry that is bringing dollars to the region, and that many of these jobs are well paid and highly skilled, the loss will have a significant impact on the region as a whole,” Deskins said. “Ultimately, this will lead to further losses in employment, spending and tax revenues. It will also damage the housing market in the Morgantown area. Ultimately, it would probably take at least a couple of years to recover from this loss of this magnitude. “

Formal announcements, Bloom said, are expected through job fairs and other events by the end of June to help those affected find work.

Bloom hopes the announced layoffs are the only ones, but admits that Viatris workers at Morgantown’s other facility, which has remained open, are concerned.

“My concern is that there are still 1,500 R&Ds left [jobs], and others are here for the time being, ”said Bloom. “We hear through the grapevine that some of them are tacitly discharged. I am very concerned that this is just the beginning. “

Viatris will leave a large facility in Morgantown and Bloom said it will be difficult to occupy.

“People think, ‘Oh, we’re just going to convert it to something else’ – you don’t just convert 1 million square feet into something new,” said Bloom. “Even the way this building was constructed is not conducive. You see only a few types of companies that can move in there. “

Once a potential company is interested, it can take a long time for something to move.

“The other thing people don’t understand is that once this is closed and a new drug company, for example, is interested, it can take up to three years to get approved,” said Bloom. “So once it’s closed, it’s closed.”

The recovery won’t come overnight, noted Bloom, but it will.

“We’re probably the only community in West Virginia that could survive this, I really think so,” said Bloom. “I’m confident – I’m trying to be positive and say that from the burning ashes we will become the Phoenix of West Virginia and be stronger.”

With government support or not, Bloom added that Morgantown will be successful.

“I’m very excited that the county commissions and local government are trying to attract new businesses,” said Bloom. “However, it would be helpful if we had more government support to support our goals.”

As Morgantown prepares for the loss of nearly 1,500 jobs, Bloom said that all we can do is prepare for the inevitable and work towards the future.

“Right now, the closer it gets, the more people are worried,” said Bloom. “It’s no use complaining or complaining at the moment. It is what it is and we have to see how we can get away from it. “

You can reach Chris Slater at [email protected], 304-887-6681, or follow @chris_slater on Twitter.

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