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LG Electronics partnering with West Virginia to advance renewable energy, telehealth businesses

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LG Electronics is partnering with the state of West Virginia to develop technologies in renewable energy, telehealth and other industries in a planned $700 million investment over the next five years, Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday.

Businesses established in the venture through the South Korea company's Santa Clara, California-based North American Innovation Center are anticipated to create up to 275 jobs, Justice said.

The Republican governor said in a statement that the partnership will "help us build an innovation corridor across the Appalachian region."

Earlier Wednesday, the state Economic Development Authority approved a $54 million loan for the project.

"We're ready to innovate. We want to bring new solutions to West Virginia," Sokwoo Rhee, LG Electronics' executive vice president of innovation and the head of LG NOVA, said at a ceremony at the state Culture Center in Charleston.

Rhee said he envisions the project will make telehealth more broadly available and advance clean energy technology.

LG Nova, which was established in 2021, plans to open branch offices in Morgantown, home of West Virginia University, and in Huntington, where Marshall University is based, Justice said.

Marshall President Brad Smith is a former CEO of software company Intuit. In Morgantown, Vantage Ventures is an initiative of WVU's business school that focuses on entrepreneurial outreach. The business school is named after WVU graduate John Chambers, a former chairman and CEO of networking tech giant Cisco Systems.

The LG partnership grew out of a meeting that Smith, Chambers and WVU President Gordon Gee attended with company officials a year ago in San Francisco.

"This is a milestone moment for our two institutions," Smith said. "Their investment in our state both in dollars, intellectual capital and partnership will promise to be game changing for our state. It will not only allow help us advance digital health and clean tech, it will set us up as a use case for the rest of the world how rural markets and rural states can leapfrog and lead the world in the 21st century."

During his two terms in office, job creation has been a priority for Justice to help a state that lost the highest percentage of its residents over the past decade. West Virginia's estimated population of 1.77 million is its lowest since 1970.

With the LG announcement, "we are celebrating an opportunity to make sure that our young people stay here," Gee said.

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