For a time, it looked like the recession might be taking the Radford area for a rough ride. The Intermet New River Foundry went bankrupt, Findlay Industries left town, TMD Friction closed and Volvo Trucks laid off hundreds of workers. All told, the area has lost more than 3,000 jobs during the past 18 months.
Now, it appears those troubles may have been “just a bump in the road,” says Aric Bopp, executive director of the New River Valley Economic Development Alliance.
Virginia Castings Industries, a venture started by the majority owners of Cadillac Castings Inc., is taking over the old Intermet facility, investing $9.1 million to create a ductile iron factory. The company already has hired 30 local workers, says CEO Dan Minor. He expects it to employ as many as 300 workers as it ramps up production of parts for automobiles, heavy commercial trucks and farm equipment.
Meanwhile, Phoenix Packaging, a family-owned Latin American company, picked Pulaski County for its new North American headquarters and first U.S. factory for its thermoformed, rigid plastic packaging. The company, which is moving into the former Findlay Industries facility, is investing $20 million and expects to hire 240 employees initially.
These developments will have a stabilizing influence on the economy, says Bopp. “Getting these jobs in and of itself is excellent, but there are also going to be plenty of opportunities for spinoff companies,” he says.
Phoenix Packaging, for example, could attract other South American and Central American companies hoping to break into the U.S. market. “We’ll continue to work to find more world-class opportunities for our people, but at the moment, we couldn’t be happier,” Bopp says.
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