CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) It's a deal that West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says is incredible for the Mountain State and a step in the right direction for boosting the economy and putting people back to work.
"There has been incredible things happen to West Virginia," Justice said. "We're truly on our way, and we're doing what I believe is the right thing and the right thing for our citizens. It gives us hope, it gives us jobs, it gives us real life."
He's referring to a $83.7 billion investment is a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that promises to bring that amount to West Virginia during the next 20 years in the form of shale gas and manufacturing projects.
"For once, West Virginia is not standing there holding the bag with nothing in it," Justice said in a news conference Monday.
It was the first time Justice spoke publicly about the deal since it was announced Thursday. He, along with State Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher, spoke about the deal and the process of securing the investment.
Thrasher spoke on his trips to China and Japan and China Energy officials coming to West Virginia to eventually secure the largest investment in West Virginia history. It's a large investment that could bring a large number of jobs, and is a number so big, officials don't even have a grasp on a number.
"It's truly mind boggling when you really think about it," Justice said. "It could be tens of thousands of really good paying jobs. It could be growth that we have never imagined."
But it wasn't all smooth sailing leading up to the signing of the MOU. Justice and Thrasher admitted that the deal almost went to another state, but the governor credits his close friendship with President Donald Trump for helping secure the deal -- who has been encouraging a deal to even out the trade imbalance between China and the United States.
The MOU is not necessarily legally binding, but Justice says it's important to look at the positive in this announcement. Thrasher adds this is a business deal and this is how most business deals start out. They add the deal has arms and legs to it and though there is no set timeline of when construction on any projects could begin but predicts they could begin late 2018.