Regions Southern Virginia

Local officials see titanium factory as a breakthrough in area’s recovery

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by Heather B. Hayes

Henry County soon will turn out titanium for the aerospace industry. RTI International Metals Inc., a metals producer and distributor based in Niles, Ohio, plans to invest $100 million in a factory scheduled to open in 2010.

The factory, which will create 150 jobs, will be located in the Patriot Centre, an industrial park jointly developed by the county and Martinsville. Local officials see the RTI announcement as a major breakthrough in the area’s efforts to recover from the loss of textile and furniture manufacturing jobs. The jobless rates of Henry County and Martinsville have been among the highest in Virginia.

“It just doesn’t get any better than this in our view,” says Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. “Immediately, it gives our program and our county credibility that we’re able to put together a deal like this for a company of this stature. It’s a very big deal.”

The RTI jobs will pay an average of $35,000 a year. Heath says that the project will also bring work to local construction companies and eventually could attract other companies supplying RTI. “We do think this type of substantial project will certainly lend itself to that sort of future growth,” he says, adding that RTI also will boost tax revenues to the region.

RTI makes products and engineered systems for aerospace, industrial, defense, energy, chemical and consumer applications. It has 1,400 employees in 18 locations.

Key factors in the company’s decision to locate in Henry County were an existing Patriot Centre shell building, the proximity of cost-effective utilities, a work force with transferable skills and a state incentive package worth more than $2 million. 

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