Grayson lands three deals in two months
Grayson County Administrator Jonathan Sweet can attest to the old saying that good things come in threes.
In July and August three companies — Independence Lumber, Hansen Turbine and Core Health — announced plans to expand facilities in the county.
“Three qualified projects don’t close in the same quarter without a seasoned team approach,” he says, noting the county worked with the regional economic development organization (Virginia’s aCorridor) and Virginia Economic Development Partnership to develop proposals “that meet both the company’s needs and the county’s capacity. If it weren’t for the confluence of all of these factors at the right time with the right companies, Grayson County may not have been able to have announced the three projects and benchmarked a banner year for economic development.”
The county competed with North Carolina to keep Hansen Turbine and Independence Lumber, which suffered a devastating fire in November 2012. In its deal, Independence Lumber will invest more than $5 million, retain 57 current jobs, create 25 jobs at the site and purchase 90 percent of its timber from Virginia forests. “We won the deal because of the relationship we have with our existing industries,” says Sweet.
Hansen Turbine, a manufacturer of coating spray applications for the aircraft and turbine parts coating industry, is investing $2.5 million to expand its operations. Its sister company, Falcon Turbine, will relocate from North Carolina to the facility to produce specialized aluminized coatings. The project will create 25 new jobs. “We had a foot in the door to compete for their North Carolina operation,” Sweet says. “We were able to meet their needs.”
The most challenging project for the county was Core Health & Fitness LLC, which develops and markets advanced strength and cardio equipment. The company is investing $2 million to expand the former Med-Fit operation in Grayson. The facility has made Nautilus commercial products for more than 34 years. “This was the toughest project I have ever worked on,” Sweet says. “It was a challenge to find a viable suitor that wasn’t a private-equity firm. We worked hand-in-glove with the turn-around team.”
The goal was to find a suitor that would partner with the county and agree to keep the operation and jobs in Grayson. “We had to vet Core and reach a level of comfort that they weren’t going to take the intellectual property and franchise agreement and manufacture the strength equipment in China,” Sweet says.
As a result of negotiations the plant in Grayson will make Chinese components, adding 150 to 250 jobs. “That’s a wonderful conclusion,” Sweet says. “The Nautilus name is synonymous with fitness. If we had lost the Nautilus brand, we would have lost a lot of pride.”