Training programs attract N.C. company to Cyber Park

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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BGF Industries Inc. will move to Cyber Park in Danville.
Photo by Steven Mantilla

BGF Industries Inc. decided to move its corporate headquarters and research and development operations to the Cyber Park in Danville after learning about the area’s workforce development efforts.

“Their training struck me as unique and interesting,” says BGF President Jerry Barbour, who also serves as head of global operations for supply chains for its parent company, France-based Porcher Groupe. “I have been with the company for 42 years, and it’s becoming a little harder to find the specialized training we need. We typically have to train in-house.”

BGF makes high-performance technical fiber materials.

Matt Rowe, director of economic development for Pittsylvania County, worked with the company for almost two years, walking representatives through the workforce programs in place at local community colleges and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

Even though Cyber Park was not the most cost-effective choice for the company, Rowe believes being located there and having the access to workforce programs “outweighed the difference of the cost,” he says.

Cyber Park is owned by the Danville-Pittsylvania County Regional Industrial Facility Authority.

BGF will invest $7 million in relocating from Greensboro, N.C., to the Cyber Park where it will build a 25,000-square-foot facility next year.

“Our plan is to be at the Cyber Park site in temporary leased space by no later than June 2019,” Barbour says. “We estimate that the new building will be completed and in place 18 months from this November. The R&D Center will be one of the first departments to move.”

As part of the deal, the region received a $275,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund and $620,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds for the project.

This isn’t the company’s first facility in Virginia. Four of BGF’s six U.S. operations are in the commonwealth — one in South Hill and three in Altavista. The Cyber Park site is expected to employ 65 workers (both existing and new) within a three-year period.

BGF sees the area’s growing aerospace and automotive research segment as an added benefit.

“Cyber Park is becoming an aerospace hub, and that is one of our largest business units,” Barbour says. The company makes lightweight fabrics that are used in the interior of aircrafts.

“We are into the aerospace business, and we really need engineers to help us grow R&D,” he says. “Our future is also in the automotive industry. We want to delve more into that field.”

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