Saying that Americans “need to build things again,” Gov. Bob McDonnell today celebrated the official opening of Rolls-Royce’s jet-engine components plant in Prince George County. The 180,000-square-foot plant is the first facility built on the company’s Crosspointe manufacturing and research campus of more than 1,000 acres.
Rolls-Royce has invested $170 million in the facility, which currently has 41 employees but will employ 130 workers when it is fully operational. Roll-Royce expects to eventually invest $500 million in the Crosspointe site, generating 500 jobs.
“For too long we have shipped jobs offshore. We need now to repatriate them to America,” McDonnell said.
The governor praised a partnership involving Rolls-Royce, the commonwealth, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech in creating two research institutes. Construction is under way at the Crosspointe campus on the 50,000-square-foot Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, which will conduct research on design and manufacturing technologies. In addition, the Commonwealth Center for Aerospace Propulsion Systems is in its second year of operation on the campuses of U.Va. and Tech.
Rolls-Royce is calibrating its high-tech machinery before beginning production of jet-engine discs. They will be part of engines designed for airline jets such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380.
The four machines currently comprise the first of what eventually will be three manufacturing lines in the Rolls-Royce building. The manufacturing floor and walls are painted a gleaming white, allowing the facility to take full advantage of skylights that help reduce its consumption of electricity. The white floor also enables workers to quickly spot anything that is out of place.
The building captures rainwater in an underground cistern and uses it to flush toilets and irrigate the landscaped grounds.
Many of the Rolls-Royce employees at the plant are being trained at a similar company facility in England.
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