By Shana Daley
From the May/June 2012 issue
Each month, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has been releasing an “Open for Business” report documenting the state’s economic progress. The April 2012 report highlights a diverse menu of new projects large and small that are creating and preserving jobs across the Mountain State.
West Virginia netted one of the top scores in the country for providing citizens with online access to information on government spending. The state’s budgeting and spending transparency earned an A- from the nonpartisan group U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund. The state’s Auditor’s office, in cooperation with the governor’s office, created the website transparencywv.org, which shows citizens where tax dollars are being spent. In addition, online access to West Virginia government financial information earned the state a 2012 Sunny Award from the nonprofit group Sunshine Review.
West Virginia ranks second in the nation in non-agricultural job growth, according to a report compiled by Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. The report provides analysis based on figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data shows that West Virginia gained 19,200 jobs between January 2011 and January 2012.
Among the recent projects cited in Gov. Tomblin’s April report:
• Allevard Sogefi USA plans to add 45 jobs in its Prichard plant by the end of the year. The firm also plans to invest $5.5 million on facility and equipment upgrades. The company produces automotive filters for Ford, Chrysler, Fiat, Mazda and TI Automotive. Allevard Sogefi USA is a subsidiary of Sogefi, based in Italy.
• Toyota announced it will invest $45 million to boost production and create 80 new jobs at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia (TMMWV) facility in Buffalo. When completed by July 2013, the effort is expected to enable TMMWV to produce 10,000 more transmissions per month. The expansion will increase employment at the West Virginia plant to 1,200 and Toyota’s total investment to $1.3 billion. TMMWV builds six-speed transmissions for the Avalon, Camry, Lexus RX350, Sienna and Venza.
• Morgantown-based Protea Biosciences Group is expanding into a new 11,000-square-foot facility in Morgantown. The firm plans to expand its current mass spectrometry services to the biopharma market. The new space will provide more room for instrumentation and analytical capabilities, including the use of the company’s LAESI DP-1000 system for distribution profiling of biomolecules. The facility is expected to be operational by the end of April 2012. Protea is a leader in the field of bioanalytics, the identification and characterization of proteins, metabolites and other biomolecules.
• STaSIS announced its intent to integrate automotive software provider Revo Technik into its performance technology group. STaSIS is headquartered in Summit Point, WV. Revo Technik is based in Daventry, United Kingdom. STaSIS specializes in performance-enhancing brake, suspension, driveline and engine products for Audi and other Volkswagen Group products. Revo Technik develops performance software products for Volkswagen Group and Porsche vehicles.
• CGP Development announced plans to build a privately funded industrial park along I-79 in Lewis County. The new park will be situated on 73 acres at the Jane Lew exit. Road construction for the green-field site is expected to get underway during spring 2012. The new enterprise will be located near a concentration of energy businesses and manufacturers in Lewis County. Based in Elkins, CGP Development is a privately-owned firm that has successfully completed several projects in North Central West Virginia. The CGP development park is listed on the West Virginia Development Office (WVD) TopSites website. Currently, TopSites includes 417 buildings, parks and locations in its Site Selector database. Visitors can search the database of properties by region, by county or by features.
Gestamp Invests $100M in South Charleston
The biggest project this year materialized when Gov. Tomblin announced that Gestamp, an $11 billion international company, will create hundreds of new jobs and invest a minimum of $100 million at the former South Charleston Stamping and Manufacturing plant.
“This is a tremendous opportunity not only for the Kanawha Valley but for the entire State of West Virginia,” said Gov. Tomblin. “This was a collaborative effort between Gestamp, Park Corporation, the City of South Charleston, the Kanawha County Commission and the State of West Virginia. We all worked together to make this opportunity a reality. This project truly validates the efforts and hard work of so many people. This is a great day for West Virginia!”
Gestamp is an international group dedicated to the design, development and manufacture of metal components and structural systems for the automotive industry.
“Immediately the City of South Charleston will see employees moving onto the site, applications being accepted and investment made in the local economy,” said Jeff Wilson, president and CEO of Gestamp.
The site, owned by Park Corporation, contains more than one million square feet under roof and over 30 acres at its South Charleston stamping facility.