Boehringer, Tower Automotive Expansions
in Virginia Top $100 Million
Taking care of existing businesses may not get the high-profile headlines that are afforded major relocations. Nonetheless, taking care of the corporate home folks can provide substantial economic rewards.
Consider Virginia, where two companies that had already established major facilities in the state almost simultaneously announced expansions. Together the two projects will create some 225 new jobs and involve a combined capital expenditure of more than US$100 million.
First came the announcement by German-based Boehringer Ingelheim (www.boehringer.com) of a $52 million, 104-job expansion its chemical production subsidiary, Boehringer Ingelheim Chemicals (BIC), in the city of Petersburg.
Shortly thereafter, Tower Automotive (www.towerautomotive.com) announced that it will build an additional $50 million manufacturing facility in Virginia's Botetourt County that will create 120 new jobs -- the largest plant expansion in the history of Botetourt County, which was established in 1770.
Of the two expansions, the Boehringer deal went public just a wee bit earlier.
That's somewhat appropriate, since the Boehringer announcement may only mark a beginning. The $52 million investment represents only the first phase of a three-phase site expansion strategy, which, when fully implemented, will more than double the manufacturing capacity at the Petersburg site, company officials said.
The Petersburg location is a considered strategic in BIC's production of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) for the company's expanding portfolio of prescription products, company officials said. (In addition to serving its parent company, Boehringer Ingelheim Chemicals also manufactures APIs for other pharmaceutical companies.)
"This significant investment reaffirms Boehringer Ingelheim's commitment to expanding its API manufacturing capacity and capabilities in North America, and specifically in Petersburg, Va.," said Dr. Anthony J. Corso, president and COO of Boehringer Ingelheim Chemicals.
Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore put an international trade mission to good use in facilitating the BIC expansion in Dinwiddie County. "I was pleased to personally meet with executives from Boehringer Ingelheim during my 1998 trade and investment mission to Germany," said Gilmore. "This multinational company is committed to Virginia and will create valuable employment opportunities for the people of Petersburg and its surrounding localities."
Virginia is aggressively recruiting pharmaceutical firms. And BIC has been one of its longest-running corporate citizens in that sector, noted Barry E. DuVal, Virginia secretary of commerce and trade. "We remain aggressive in marketing the commonwealth to pharmaceutical manufacturers and suppliers," DuVal said. "Boehringer Ingelheim Chemicals has been a strong corporate citizen in Virginia for 22 years, and we look forward to closely witnessing their future success."
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (www.yesvirginia.org), the city of Petersburg (www.petersburg-va.org) and the Appomattox Basin Industrial Development Corp. (www.virginiasites.com/appomattox/) assisted Boehringer Ingelheim Chemicals with its expansion decision, said BIC officials.
Gilmore approved a $400,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund to assist Petersburg with site preparation. The company also qualified to receive a $500,000 grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership program. In addition, the Virginia Dept. of Business Assistance will provide work-force training services to the company. Said Petersburg Mayor Rosalyn R. Dance, "Petersburg is again on the verge of economic renaissance. Over the years, the City Council and city administration have formed a strong working relationship with Boehringer Ingelheim Chemicals. This strong relationship continues to pay off in new investment and job opportunities for Petersburg."
A leader in automated flexible manufacturing processes that support the highly customized commercial vehicle industry, Tower Automotive will begin construction on its new facility this summer.
The new Virginia plant is scheduled to begin production in early 2002. It will join Tower Automotive's 25 other manufacturing facilities in North America. The company also has facilities in Europe, South America and the Pacific Rim.
Tower Automotive's new facility in Virginia will manufacture customized frame rails for Class 5, 6, 7 and 8 trucks. The existing facility, built five years ago and adjacent to the new site, currently employs 135 workers. The new plant will use e-commerce technologies that place customers a keystroke away from the factory floor, a scenario that produces customized products that are rapidly delivered, according to Tower Automotive officials.
"We selected the Roanoke Valley because if its pro-business climate, excellent transportation network, work-force readiness and high quality of life," said Dale Hemberger, Tower Automotive business unit leader. "We were also impressed with the technical support offered to us by Virginia Tech and Virginia Western Community."
Tower Automotive officials said that they were assisted in their decision by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Roanoke Valley Economic Development Partnership (www.roanoke.org) and Botetourt County (www.co.botetourt.va.us).
Gilmore approved a $500,000 Governor's Opportunity Fund grant to assist Botetourt County with site preparation.
In addition, the Virginia Dept. of Business Assistance will provide work-force training services for the Tower Automotive project, and the Virginia Dept. of Rail and Public Transportation (www.dit1.state.va.us/drpt/) will assist with rail access funding. Minneapolis-based Tower Automotive sells to automobile manufacturers. Its biggest customers are Ford (which accounts for 40 percent of company sales), DaimlerChrysler (which accounts for more than 25 percent of sales) and General Motors (which accounts for 10 percent of sales). Other companies that Tower Automotive supplies include Honda, Mazda, Toyota, Isuzu, and Nissan.
The company owns 40 percent of Metalsa, Mexico's No. 1 supplier of auto frames and structures, and 40 percent of Brazil's Metalurgica Caterina, a structural assembly and stamping supplier. Tower Automotive's SIMES plant in Italy makes parts for Fiat
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