Tri-State job growth will come in increments
It's always nice to win one, and the news that Allevard Sogefi USA Inc. is expanding its operation at the A. Michael Perry Industrial Park at Prichard definitely counts as a win.
The company announced Wednesday it will construct a new plant to manufacture automotive filters, adding 65 jobs to the area by 2010. The new plant will be a $7 million investment by the company, which is based in Italy. Allevard/Sogefi operates the Allevard Springs plant, which employs about 90 people and produces stabilization bars used in vehicles, at Prichard.
The new plant will make diesel fuel filters, cabin air filters and oil filters. Its largest contract is with Ford Motor Co., but Allevard Sogefi will also supply Toyota, Nissan, Mercedes, BMW and Mazda.
Troy Thomas, plant manager of the existing plant who also will manage the new plant, said the company will begin hiring near the beginning of 2009. The new plant is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2009. The jobs will start at about $10 per hour and are on the same pay scale as the current plant, he said.
Allevard Springs first came to Prichard about six years ago after the Huntington Area Development Council and the Wayne County Commission built a shell building there. Sogefi invested $27 million in the Prichard project, including buying the 50,000-square-foot vacant shell building along old U.S. 52 and expanding it to a total of 215,000 square feet.
What can we take from this? Several things:
- The Tri-State economy is increasingly tied into the international economy. Allevard Sogefi is an Italian company. Near the plant at Prichard is a factory owned by a Japanese company. And there are many more international companies operating in the Tri-State.
- Shell buildings work. Most of the shell buildings that have been erected in Wayne and Cabell counties have been leased or sold to companies that came to the area looking for a building already in place. A shell building is four walls and a roof -- no floor, no office space, nothing else. The idea is that the interior of the building can be customized to suit a buyer's needs. Today's market for industrial buildings in this area leans in favor of shell buildings.
- Improvements to the area's employment picture comes in small increments. It's been a long time since a company announced plans to build a large manufacturing facility in the area. The closest ones were along the Ohio River between Ironton and Portsmouth, Ohio. On this side of the Ohio, successes come with 90 jobs in one place, such as Prichard, and 80 jobs at another, such as the announcement in April that CSX would locate that many dispatchers from Jacksonville, Fla., to Huntington.
An announcement could come soon that another employer in this area -- one with significant foreign ownership -- will expand its operations. For whatever reasons, this appears to be a good time for local job recruitment efforts. The task now is to ensure that we can build on those efforts with a coordinated plan that showcases what we can do and how companies can make money here.
That could take some changes to state tax policy -- a process which was started and must not be allowed to die -- and it could require some new investment in our education infrastructure, including Marshall Community and Technical College. But the results would be worth it.
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