Confusion arose Friday when Carmeuse Lime & Stone officials stated the company no longer intended to carry out an $8.7 million expansion of the company’s operations in Strasburg.
County officials blamed a misunderstanding between state officials and themselves for an erroneous disclosure about the Carmeuse expansion a day earlier.
In the end, the problem was like a game of “telephone” — somewhere along the line there was a miscommunication, and the original message got scrambled by the time it reached the other end.
“I don’t know exactly what that $8.7 million investment is,” said Kevin Whyte last Friday, reacting to a Northern Virginia Daily article on the matter published the day before. Whyte is the Carmeuse senior vice president of legal, environmental and business development.
On Tuesday, Carmeuse issued a news release to clarify the situation.
The release stated that Carmeuse had filed an application with the Virginia Jobs Investment Program regarding its Strasburg facility in February 2016. The program would provide funding and services to Carmeuse if the company met its target growth. The application indicated that Carmeuse anticipated creating 67 new jobs and growing by $8.7 million at its Strasburg location from 2017 to 2020.
The program’s benefits were contingent upon Carmeuse meeting its growth expectations.
“We believe that the estimates contained in the applications were reasonable when the applications were filed,” the release stated. “However, circumstances have changed, and Carmeuse no longer anticipates hiring these numbers of new employees … There are no current plans for an expansion of production capacity at Strasburg.”
Virginia Economic Development Partnership Communications Director Suzanne Clark stated in an email to the Northern Virginia Daily on Wednesday that no funding has been requested or distributed to Carmeuse.
“In light of new information from the company in (its statement) issued yesterday, plans have changed and Carmeuse will no longer be eligible to receive the previously approved VJIP funding for 107 total new jobs,” Clark wrote. “VEDP has now canceled the project.”
Clark also stated that Carmeuse’s intended expansions in Shenandoah and Frederick counties are in the process of being removed from the VEDP’s announcements database. The database can be viewed at https://vedpweb.yesvirginia.org/announcements#/NewExpanding.
Shenandoah County Administrator Mary Beth Price received a copy of a letter from Timothy Stuller, VEDP vice president, to Sue Counts, regional human resources manager with Carmeuse, notifying Carmeuse of its acceptance to the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
The letter also mentioned Carmeuse’s “forecasted creation of 67 additional jobs.”
The VEDP also sent information about the anticipated $8.7 million expansion to Jenna French, director of tourism and economic development, who passed that along to Price.
“All we were doing was sharing the information that was provided to us,” French said.
Based on this information from the VEDP and French, Price included details about Carmeuse’s anticipated growth in her weekly memo to the Board of Supervisors on Dec. 22.
“Shenandoah County would like to congratulate Carmeuse Lime & Stone located at 1696 Oranda Rd, Strasburg, Virginia, on their recent expansion,” the memo stated. “As part of the VJIP application, Carmeuse is expected to create 67 net new full-time jobs at their Shenandoah County facility and another 30 net new full-time jobs at their Frederick County facility over the next 3 years.”
Shenandoah County does not work directly with the VEDP, Price said Wednesday, emphasizing that Carmeuse worked directly with the state organization regarding the Virginia Jobs Investment Program, not the county.
French noted that one of the things that’s most important to them is that they keep a strong relationship with Carmeuse.
“We are very supportive of them, whether growing and expanding or not,” French said. “It’s important to us that, through what’s happened, that we maintain a strong relationship and that doesn’t get tarnished as a result.”