WVU Considering Takeover Of Viatris Property In Morgantown As New Talks Begin On Former Mylan Facility
Viatris, formerly known as Mylan Pharmaceuticals, has announced it is planning on entering into a memorandum of understanding with West Virginia University regarding the potential transfer of ownership of the Chestnut Ridge facility in Morgantown.
The company, which laid off roughly 1,500 employees upon the plant’s July 31 closure, made the announcement in a Wednesday news release. Viatris says it "has commenced discussions to align on a memorandum of understanding with WVU and its affiliates to pursue the potential transfer and ownership of the site to WVU or one of its associated entities."
Details of the pending MOU — including specifics on what purposes West Virginia University might use the facility for — were not immediately available.
In a statement, Vitaris said it did attempt to find another potential buyer in the pharmaceutical industry as the July 31 shutdown date loomed. However, the company said that “no such viable proposals” have been received to date.
“Given the present landscape, when thinking about responsible new stewards for the site, as well as its strategic location, future potential uses, and the possibility for job creation opportunities in the short, medium and long term for Morgantown and its surrounding areas, we determined that pursuing formal discussions at this time with WVU and its affiliates is the absolute right next step to consider,” Executive Chairman Robert J. Coury said.
WVU President E. Gordon Gee said he is pleased that Viatris has engaged with the university and its affiliates relating to the Chestnut Ridge plant.
“While we are at the start of this potential new beginning, I can say with certainty that we are excited to reach an agreement, and if so, we are committed to working with our local, state and federal partners to create public and private sector jobs,” Gee said. “We also will prioritize retraining and educational opportunities for recently impacted employees. This endeavor goes to the core of the University’s land-grant mission. We are eager to possibly be a part of this new opportunity to make our community the best it can be.”
Gov. Jim Justice also commented on the news of the potential transfer of the property during an already scheduled briefing on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We congratulate WVU and Viatris for getting together. But we still got a long way to go to turn that into real employment for these great employees that were doing such good work,” Justice said. “And we want him to have high-paying, great jobs and we're going to try and keep trying every way we possibly can to pull that off.”
Other top West Virginia officials applauded the potential transfer of property to WVU.
"I believe in my heart nobody would more proud and delighted than Mike Puskar to see his beloved Mylan family and property join forces with the WVU family he cherished so deeply," U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, said. "West Virginia University has a proven track record of success when it comes to identifying economic development partnerships that reap benefits for the entire Mountain State. I am confident this partnership will be no different and am hopeful WVU will take this opportunity of a lifetime to create meaningful jobs for this skilled workforce."
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., called Wednesday's announcement a "positive step forward" for the future of the facility.
“West Virginia University is a world class institution, our state’s largest employer, and can have a profound influence on our state’s economy,” said McKinley. “We will continue to work with all parties to ensure a positive outcome. I look forward to the next phase of discussions and opportunities.”
While many in the area have expressed concerns over the economic impact related to the job losses at the plant, the transfer of ownership of the plant could affect revenues for Monongalia County.
According to tax records at the Monongalia County Assessor’s office, Mylan Pharmaceuticals paid more than $650,000 in property taxes on the Chestnut Ridge facility and associated property in tax year 2020.
A spokesperson for WVU said it is “too early to speculate” whether the university would be subject to taxes on the property should it take it over.