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W.Va. welcomes Asian companies

October 14, 1997

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Gov. Cecil Underwood were in Morgan County Monday to welcome an Asian manufacturer to the region, but both will be back in the Eastern Panhandle Wednesday to announce that another Taiwanese airplane builder is locating in Martinsburg.

TLM Aerospace Inc. is expected to announce plans to build a $15 million plant that would employ more than 400 people, according to the Associated Press. Rockefeller declined to detail the nature of the midweek announcement during an appearance Monday at the Morgan County Industrial Park welcoming Ten Incorporated, a Japanese manufacturer of electromagnetic absorbent materials.

TLM will reportedly manufacture single-engine aircraft at the plant, which will be located at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport. Prior to the 11 a.m. ceremony, company officials will attend a breakfast at the Stonebridge Golf Club, hosted by Rockefeller. Also slated to be there is Taiwan's Vice Minister of Economic Affairs, Chii-Ming Yiin, according to the invitation.

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After the 11 a.m. ceremony at the airport, TLM officials will be the guests at a luncheon hosted by another Taiwanese-backed aircraft company, Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corp. That company, which Rockefeller also lobbied hard to bring to West Virginia, broke ground on its factory in March 1996 and is expected to begin production of the SJ30-2 business-class jet late next year.

Ten Inc. of Nagoya was welcomed by a lineup of West Virginia and Eastern Panhandle political heavyweights led by Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Underwood. As witnesses they signed two agreements between the company and Morgan County Economic Development Authority President Robert Ayers.

Rockefeller said he and Underwood personally wooed Ten Inc. President Kenichi Noda during a January trade trip to Japan and Taiwan made by the senator and an April trip by the governor. Noda visited West Virginia in March and August to inspect potential factory sites.

Noda told an audience of about 100 elected officials, business and economic development leaders that he had been considering locating in the United States for more than two years.

"At the time, all I knew about West Virginia was a song called `Almost Heaven,'" he said of a popular tune by the late John Denver.

"Consider us your family. That's West Virginia's commitment to you," Rockefeller told Noda in Japanese.

According to Maria O'Reilly of the West Virginia Development Office, phase one of the project involves an investment of $1.2 million by Ten Inc. The company plans to break ground this fall on a 20,000-square-foot plant that will employ 26 people within three years.

Noda signed a job creation agreement with the development authority calling for half of the jobs to be offered to lower-income people. Also signed was an agreement for Ten Inc. to purchase the 5.9-acre tract for $34,000 within six months. The building is expected to be completed in a year.

Ten Inc. will make Lite Tile Ten at the plant. It consists of two layers of ferrite material separated by a ceramic foam core, according to a company document. The tiles absorb electromagnetic waves.

The tiles are used in anechoic chambers, which are used to test electronic equipment without interference from outside sources of electromagnetic radiation.

"This park has been vacant for seven or eight years," County Commissioner Phil Maggio said at the welcoming ceremony in the 102-acre park. He said people often asked him when the park would attract some business.

Bill Clark, executive director of the county development authority, recently said about $2 million in federal funding was used to build a 30-acre park in Paw Paw and the Morgan County Industrial Park 12 miles south of Berkeley Springs.

The parks were built in the late 1980s. Clark said the ammunition company Talon Manufacturing bought the Paw Paw park a few years ago.

Rockefeller said West Virginia beat out Indiana for Ten Inc.'s business. It will be the 13th Japanese plant in the state.

"We are hanging out a big, bold sign for all the world to see. West Virginia is open for business," Underwood said.

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