‘This is a big leap’

Botetourt County’s biggest economic announcement comes from Italy

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Eldor Corp. is investing $75 million initially and
perhaps as much as $106 million by 2024.

While a couple of breweries promising to bring 286 jobs to the Roanoke Valley got all the attention last year, one company announced plans that would bring 350 jobs to the region during the next five years — and another 300 jobs by 2024.

Just days before the Deschutes announcement that created so much excitement, Eldor Corp., an Italian manufacturer of automotive components, revealed plans to build its first North American plant in Botetourt County. Eldor, which makes ignition systems, engine control units and electronics systems for hybrid and electric vehicles, plans to invest $75 million initially and perhaps as much as $106 million by 2024. It is the largest economic development announcement — both in terms of jobs created and investment made — in Botetourt’s history.

“This is not just someone coming in,” says Jack Leffel, chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors. “This is a big leap … Eldor will raise things to a higher level, I think.”

The Roanoke Regional Partnership says Eldor’s plans for Botetourt will create an annual economic impact of more than $246.5 million by 2021. The partnership expects the project to lead to more than 500 additional jobs.  With the completion of the project’s second phase, the partnership projects those numbers to increase to a $457.8 million economic impact annually and a total of 1,600 direct, indirect and induced jobs.

Those benefits will not, of course, be limited to Botetourt. Beth Doughty, the partnership’s executive director, says governments and economic development professionals in the region understand that and embrace it.

“I think the Roanoke region has a very progressive regional attitude about things,” Doughty says, “and a real understanding that what’s good for one is good for all.”

At the Eldor announcement, Pasquale Forte, the company’s president and CEO, expressed his appreciation for the welcome his company received.

“Virginia is particularly business-oriented, with its pro-business laws, Port of Virginia access, logistics and infrastructure,” Forte said. “We found a community of genuine and collaborative people, focused on supporting investment in a practical way and with great commitment. The community has welcomed us with a professional attitude, but also with respect and friendship.”

His reasons for choosing Botetourt extended beyond its jurisdictional boundaries.

“We found top-class universities and a great community college with programs dedicated to the mechatronics sector that will grow excellent young engineers with the skills necessary to run Eldor’s advanced automated lines,” Forte said. “Finally, the Roanoke region is beautiful with natural beauty and quality of life. I am confident that people who come to our plant from around the world will be amazed by this beauty.”

Roanoke/New River Valley’s recent deals

Company Location #Jobs
Eldor Corp. Botetourt County 350
Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits Botetourt County 178
Deschutes Brewery Roanoke 108
PlyGem Windows Franklin County 76
Integrity Windows Roanoke County 60
Ozmo App Montgomery County 55
Arkay Packaging Botetourt County 50
Fleetwood Homes Franklin County 41
Canatal Steel USA Botetourt County 38
Java Productions Montgomery County 20

Source:  Virginia Economic Development Partnership, 2016.

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