CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It was a big night of more economic prospects being announced by Governor Jim Justice during his final State of the State address, but one of the most significant where the shape of higher education in the state is concerned was regarding the $50 million for a new agriculture lab he proposed to come to West Virginia State University.

MetroNews caught up with WVSU President Ericke Cage as he was walking out the House Chamber following the address and he said it was an announcement not only promising for the university itself but the entire state of West Virginia.

Ericke Cage

Cage said as a land-grant institution, the university has been committed to advancing innovation in agriculture, a feat they have been pursuing for 132 years, and he said for these dollars to be proposed for that pursuit Wednesday night puts them immensely ahead of the curve.

“I think this lab really underscores the value West Virginia State University brings to the agriculture space but also what it brings to West Virginia more broadly, so we’re really excited,” Cage told MetroNews. “We want to thank Governor Justice as well as the leadership in the House and the Senate.”

Cage said there seems to be much bipartisan support for the lab to come to the university and he felt confident of the proposal’s standing.

“I think there is the strong support of the governor and leadership in both houses, so I think it will move forward,” he said.

Cage said he’s been very adamant about further developing the agricultural department at WVSU since he came on as the 13th president of the institution back in March of 2022. He said this new facility would fit right in to that priority.

“I will basically serve as a home for our school of agriculture, so again, I really could not have asked for this to come forward at a better time,” said Cage.

Cage said the lab would be used by not only students at WVSU as a place to train and conduct research, but by the state Department of Agriculture in its continuous efforts in the health and safety of the food supply in West Virginia.