Jefferson Co. to help company buying Imation plant

January 14, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Commissioners have agreed to help a North Carolina company proceed with a $6 million purchase of the former Imation plant in Middleway.

On Thursday, the commissioners decided to issue $6 million in industrial revenue bonds to allow Spectratech International Inc. purchase the plant, where equipment for the printing industry was manufactured.

Under the deal, the county does not assume any financial involvement, said Jane Peters, executive director of the Jefferson County Development Authority.

The agreement simply creates an avenue for Spectrtech to sell bonds and take advantage of lower interest rates, said Peters.

The commissioners had to get involved because only county governments can issue the bonds, Peters said.

The agreement paves the way toward breathing new life into the plant and saving jobs there.

Imation employed 172 workers last year, but in July announced plans to sell the 325,000-square-foot facility. The plant closed its doors the end of December.


Spectratech hopes to rehire some Imation employees, officials said.

About 30 former Imation employees have already been rehired, said Commissioner Edgar Ridgeway.

Spectratech officials have indicated they hope to hire up to 130 employees within the next several years, said Peters.

"It's a great thing for the county. It's incredible there will be this smooth of a transition," said Peters.

It is not known whether Spectratech will mantain the size of the Imation operation. The company, headquartered in Wake Forest, makes aluminum-based commercial printing plates used to make magazine ads, flyers, books and brochures.

For 35 years, the plant was part of 3M, which manufactured printing plates, photographic chemistries and other materials for the printing industry. 3M expanded the plant six times and prided itself in investing in new technology to stay competitive.

In 1997, 3M changed the name of the plant to Imation, which was the result of the company's decision to quit the videotape business and spin off its data storage and imaging systems business. The local plant was one of 16 around the world to make the name change.

3M also had other projects at the Brucetown Road plant, including the development of a lightweight metal material for use in sophisticated military aircraft. Plant officials also believed the material had other useful applications in cars, bicycles and other products.

The federal government pitched-in $75 million for the development of the metal matrix composite while the company spent $25 million, officials said.

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