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VT Industries to open production facility in Hagerstown

Initially, the company will create 75 jobs with potential to expand

September 21, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • Timothy R. Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, talks to the Washington County Commissioners Tuesday about a new production facilty coming to the county.
Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Manufacturing company VT Industries Inc. plans to open a production facility in Hagerstown that will employ about 75 people, local economic development officials announced Tuesday.

The company, a manufacturer of laminate countertops, architectural wood doors and stone surfaces, has purchased the former Kongsberg Automotive building on Western Maryland Parkway and could start production as early as January, Timothy R. Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission (EDC), said at a Washington County Commissioners meeting.

The commissioners voted unanimously to endorse the state's offer of a $150,000 Maryland Economic Assistance Fund loan for the project and to offer a $112,500 conditional loan from the county with similar terms.

The commissioners discussed the incentive previously in closed session, Troxell said.

Commissioner James F. Kercheval said Tuesday that the commissioners agreed to the assistance to attract jobs to the area and because a local match is required for the state incentive.

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"Of course, our return on the investment is that people get employed and the value of that, plus the property taxes and other things that are paid through this, come back as well," Kercheval said.

The conditions of the incentives are that the company must live up to its promises for investment and job creation, he said.

The money will come from funds set aside for job attraction and creation, according to a report from Troxell.

VT Industries will invest about $11 million in the project, of which about $6.5 million will be in capital improvements, according to a press release from the EDC.

Initially, the company will create 75 well-paying jobs, with the potential to expand within three years, generating an additional 50 jobs, according to the release.

The company has said the average wage for those jobs will be $14.50 per hour, and aside from a couple of key people transferred in, the majority will be new hires, Troxell said.

Kongsberg Automotive will vacate the 100,000-square-foot facility by the end of October, and VT Industries will be in position to start production by January, with full production expected by the second quarter of 2011, Troxell said.

Power Products Systems announced in August that it would be closing the Kongsburg Automotive facility and laying off 64 employees as part of a plan to "optimize our production in order to stay competitive in an ever increasingly global market."

Troxell said he did not know the average wage of the Kongsburg Automotive jobs.

"I can tell you that their human resources department has been working with the Western Maryland Consortium to make sure that the employees that are currently at Kongsberg that may have the appropriate skills will be the first to be looked at for filling these (VT Industries) positions," Troxell said.

In addition to the $150,000 state loan, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development also has offered a $10 million private activity bond to help VT Industries with the building purchase, renovations and equipment costs, according to the EDC press release.

The project also has been approved to participate in the county's "Fast Track Construction Program," which will expedite the review and approval process for any upgrades needed to the facility.

"This is exciting news for our area," Troxell said in the press release. "Locating a national manufacturing company in these difficult economic times speaks volumes about the strength and competitiveness of Hagerstown-Washington County."

Doug Clausen, president and CEO of VT Industries, said in the press release that Hagerstown's proximity to the company's expanding market is a "perfect fit" for VT Industries.

Washington County Commissioners President John F. Barr was quoted in the release as saying he is pleased that a company "of the caliber and reputation" of VT Industries has decided to locate in the county.

"Manufacturing continues to be an important part of Washington County's economic base," Barr said.

VT Industries has seven production facilities throughout the United States, and sales yield more than $300 million, according to the release. Major customers include Home Depot and Lowe's, both of which have a distribution presence in the area.

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