Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: September 25, 2018
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Ofirah Yheskel, | Virginia Economic Development Partnership: | WestRock Company: John Pensec,, (470) 328-6305

Governor Northam Announces WestRock to Upgrade Covington and Alleghany County Operations

Investment aimed at improving productivity and increasing employee training

COVINGTON—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that WestRock Company, a leading provider of differentiated paper and packaging solutions, will invest $248.4 million in its manufacturing operations in the City of Covington and Alleghany County over a five-year period. These investments will be used to purchase new equipment designed to improve productivity at the paper mill and extruding facility, as well as to increase employee training.

WestRock will receive funding from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP) to support the retraining of 60 existing employees on the new equipment. Virginia successfully competed against several states for the project.

“With more than 3,000 employed by WestRock across the Commonwealth, Virginia has one of the largest concentrations of company operations in the United States, and we are honored that this Fortune 500 company continues to reinvest here,” said Governor Northam. “These significant capital investments will ensure the company’s facility is equipped with world-class technology that will enable it to increase productivity and stay competitive in a global economy.”

“A company of WestRock’s caliber making an investment of this size in its Covington operation is a testament to the region’s infrastructure and workforce and to Virginia’s overall business climate,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “This project demonstrates WestRock’s commitment to Alleghany County, and to retraining its employees with 21st-century skills.”

“WestRock appreciates the support of Governor Northam, Secretary Ball and all who are supporting these investments,” said Bob Feeser, president of Consumer Packaging at WestRock. “The Commonwealth is a great place to do business, and the new equipment and additional training will enable us to better serve our customers and strengthen the local economy.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) worked with the Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation (AHEDC), the Roanoke Regional Partnership (RRP), and the General Assembly’s Major Employment and Investment (MEI) Project Approval Commission to secure these significant capital investments for Virginia. Governor Northam approved a $2 million performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership program, an incentive available to existing companies. WestRock will also be eligible to receive Sales and Use Tax Exemptions on manufacturing equipment. Funding and services to support the company’s employee retraining activities will be provided through the VJIP.

“WestRock is the anchor of this community,” stated Chairman of the Alleghany County Board of Supervisors Steve Bennett. “These substantial investments affirm their commitment to the Alleghany Highlands.  We are proud that they are a key employer and engaged community partner.”

“For well over 100 years, WestRock has been an integral part of the Alleghany Highlands,” said Covington Mayor Tom Sibold. “WestRock’s mission to be the best in the packaging industry remains unchanged, and we are excited that this region and its dedicated workers are helping WestRock achieve its mission.”

“As a longtime corporate partner and major employer in Virginia, WestRock Company’s value cannot be overstated, and I thank the company for these major investments in its Covington and Alleghany County operation,” said Senator Frank Ruff, Chairman of the General Assembly’s Major Employment & Investment (MEI) Commission. “Securing projects of this size takes a concerted team effort, and I’m pleased that the MEI Commission could partner with the Governor’s office, VEDP, the AHEDC, and the Roanoke Regional Partnership to help secure WestRock’s reinvestment in the Commonwealth.”

“WestRock Company’s significant investment in new technology and increased production at its Covington and Alleghany County plants reaffirms the company’s commitment to Virginia,” noted Delegate Nick Rush, Vice Chair of the MEI Commission. “I congratulate VEDP, MEI, and the partners that collaborated on this important project, and I am confident that WestRock will continue to thrive in the region.”

“The WestRock paper mill is central to the economic health of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Senator Creigh Deeds. “The paper mill not only produces world-class quality paperboard and is the largest packaged exporter from the Port of Virginia, but it is a major source of employment for the Alleghany Highlands and surrounding counties in two states. This announcement is critical to making sure that the paper mill can compete in the ever-changing market. The retraining involved makes sure that the already world-class workforce in the Alleghany Highlands remains among the best trained in the world, providing stability to our local and statewide economy.” 

“WestRock has once again shown its commitment to its employees, the City of Covington and the Alleghany Highlands,” said Delegate Terry Austin. “Generations of families have worked at the WestRock mill, and thousands of Virginians rely on the economic benefits the mill provides. This investment will ensure that the mill will continue to be an integral part of Virginia’s sustainable forest products economy.”

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