INSTITUTE, WV (WOWK) — The US Methanol Plant in Institute is now up and running with 60 new, full-time employees.

The plant originally was located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and all of its equipment was dismantled and shipped to the United States. The plant broke ground in Institute six years ago.

Now, the plant is fully constructed and exporting methanol throughout West Virginia, Ohio, Louisiana and Kentucky.

Methanol is used in the production of electronics, pharmaceuticals, plastics, construction products and more.

“We’re at almost full capacity,” US Methanol CEO Mike Walsh said. “We’ve been shipping product for the last five or six months to customers in West Virginia, in Kentucky, in Louisiana, so there’s a lot of activity now. We have our workforce fully hired and trained, so there’s a lot going on.”

Kanawha County community members, investors from the Czech Republic, Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and others celebrated the Institute plant’s new success in production.

U.S. Representative Carol Miller (R-WV) said the increase in available jobs in West Virginia is an important benefit from the recent methanol production at the new US Methanol plant in Institute.

“I’m just really excited to be able to see the facility that’s been some time in the making. To come all the way from Brazil and be here. I’ve watched our state even flow economically job-wise, and I’m so thrilled we are on the upswing again: employing people, using our talents and moving forward,” Miller said.

Walsh said the company has faced several ups and downs over the last six years.

“It has been a challenge. We had starts and stops with some issues with the plant itself, but the team did a good job of redesigning and fixing those,” Walsh said.

Walsh said once COVID-19 hit and the global shutdown began, the US Methanol team was resilient and fought to finish construction on the new plant.

“That remarkable thing is once it was up and operating, it’s run really well. So, we’ve hired people that’ve done a nice job of figuring out how to deal with all those problems, and now we’re here and we’re operating, and we couldn’t be happier,” Walsh said.

Long term, Walsh said he hopes the plant’s production of methanol can reach new markets across the country.

“There’s been some pre-investment done already, so there’s some places where tie-ins have been made. Some of the equipment has actually been sized to be larger. So, we hope that we continue to grow and be profitable, and in the near future be announcing an expansion,” Walsh said.