Read the article by Chris Slater on WV News.



MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV News) — July 31 is approaching, and with that, the first round of layoffs at the former Mylan Pharmaceuticals plant.

The announcement came Dec. 11, 2020, from parent company Viatris about two months after merging with Mylan Pharmaceuticals. The plant has been a staple of the Morgantown community since 1965. The layoffs at the end of the month will see 482 non-union employees and 764 union employees affected. Approximately 1,500 jobs are expected to be lost overall.

The Workforce Development Committee, part of the Morgantown Area Partnership, has spent the last two months planning a job fair tailored for the Viatris employees who will be laid off. It will be held Thursday, at the Marriott Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Frank Vitale, president and CEO of Forge Business Solutions, and chair of the Workforce Development Committee, said there was no hesitation to reach out to help those who will be losing their jobs.

“You know, Mylan has been around a long time and has done so much for our state community that we just felt like we needed a community response to help these employees and their families to find other employment if they want to stay in North Central West Virginia,” Vitale said.

Vitale said that the Mylan plant jobs were industrial positions that paid well, and they wanted similar jobs at Thursday’s fair. They are anticipating around 40 employers present.

“Based on sort of job matching, we tried to look for manufacturing and similar jobs, you know, we just, we did the best we could with attracting the right kinds of employers that do similar work — but there are no large-scale pharmaceutical manufacturers in the area,” Vitale said.

With 1,500 jobs being lost, Vitale made sure there was a range of representatives from many industries.

“We’ll start with everything from manufacturing, to health care, to the hospitality and service industry, construction,” Vitale said. “We’ve had folks reach out from all those areas and more. And again, with our best effort to match up skill sets, you know, we really feel that these jobs are qualified jobs that folks can apply for.”

The fair will feature companies of a variety of sizes, from those with hundreds of employees all the way to smaller outfits that have fewer than 10 workers.

“Those are important jobs to these companies that are looking for one, two, three high-quality employees,” Vitale said. “We don’t want to dismiss them; they’re important as well.”

The impetus for this fair, Vitale said, to show that the business community is here for the workers and their families.

“I think it’s important, as West Virginians, that we take care of our own,” Vitale said.

Some of the laid-off Mylan workers will likely leave the state to find jobs, which Vitale said is unfortunate but understandable.

“We want to provide an opportunity for as many people as possible to be able to stay in North Central West Virginia to raise their families, and have good employment, with quality employment benefits and compensation,” Vitale said.

In addition to job recruiters, there will be financial counseling available, as well as educational assistance for those wanting to attend college or a vocational program.

Vitale helped organize a smaller job fair when 488 plant workers were laid off in 2018. The biggest issue he noticed then was that those needing it were hesitant to accept help.

“I want to encourage everyone who’s impacted by this layoff to participate because the community is trying to come out full force,” Vitale said. “Accept support, accept the help — it’s okay. I mean, we have to be here for each other.”

Helping with the job fair are the West Virginia University Center for Career Development and the West Virginia Human Resource Foundation, as well as the Morgantown Area Partnership.

“Workforce is the most important aspect of a company’s decision to locate or expand in a community, so it’s important that we focus on our workforce in the Morgantown Area,” Russ Rogerson, president and CEO of the Partnership, said in a release. “The (Workforce Development) Committee has a great deal of experience in the field and will help our community address issues and opportunities for our residents to prepare them for tomorrow’s jobs.”