09/27/12 — County getting 44 jobs in Ryerson expansion

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County getting 44 jobs in Ryerson expansion

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 27, 2012 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Good roads, a $200,000 incentive package and the partnership with local and state officials are being credited with helping Wayne County beat out Virginia and South Carolina for a $4.2 million Joseph T. Ryerson & Son Inc. expansion project.

A groundbreaking ceremony for a new 45,000-square-foot building was held Wednesday morning at the Ryerson plant on N.C. 581. The project will add 44 jobs and double the size of the facility, while opening up new markets, company officials said.

Ryerson, a Chicago, Ill.-based company, processes and distributes metals that include stainless and carbon steel, aluminum products, brass and copper. The company sells these metals in sheets, coils, plates, bars and other shapes as needed by their customers.

Salaries for the new jobs will vary by job function, but the average will be $33,540. The average annual wage in Wayne County is $29,848. The 44 jobs are expected to provide about $1.475 million annually in salaries and benefits.

"We were in competition with the state of Virginia and South Carolina for this particular project -- as well as North Carolina, they had some other locations that were in consideration," said Mike Haney, vice president and existing industry specialist for the Wayne County Development Alliance. "We felt very fortunate that we were the ones selected for transportation of their product going north (Interstate) 795. The Highway 70 corridor was also a consideration.

"Forty-four jobs anywhere, especially in North Carolina or Wayne County is extremely important, but up here in the northern part of the county, the economic activity is really going to be seen. We worked with Ryerson through their consultant. We had several meetings with the community college, and the training piece was a big part of the process as far as their (Ryerson's) decision making. Many of the Wayne Community College personnel today were part of that and continue to be."

The Pikeville plant, which opened in 2003, will receive a $100,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund. The county will match the amount.

The One NC Fund provides financial assistance, through local governments, to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity and create new jobs in the state. Companies receive no money up front and must meet job creation and investment performance standards to qualify for grant funds. These grants also require and are contingent upon local matches.

However, there is a performance clause in the contract, meaning that Ryerson must fulfill its employee and investment obligations in order to get paid. If those obligations are not fulfilled, then any funding that is provided will be required to be repaid.

"Expansion is a big deal for us," Haney said. "Ryerson is creating jobs for our citizens and they are doubling the size of their facility. They also are investing in high-tech equipment in their manufacturing process."

Pikeville Mayor Johnny Weaver said that northern Wayne County was very fortunate to have a company with such a rich history -- the company is 170 years old.

"We will not own the building because Ben Benton will actually be building the building and we will leasing from him," said Brad Ford, Ryerson vice president/general manager Carolina and Virginia market. "We hope two get started in two or three weeks. We are waiting on the final approval from the state in order to be able to start turning some dirt.

"Once we have that, we hope we can have the building up and completed in four to six months. Once a certain part of the building is done, we can start moving some of our equipment in. So we don't have to wait until the building is all the way complete. We hope to be operational by April 1."

The current facility is bursting at the seams, Ford said.

"But the other thing, we will actually be able to service some new industries that we currently don't service today," he said. "We will be buying equipment that will take us further down the value added chain, and allow us to put parts into a customer's facility that moves further into their production, and they don't have to do as much to it to get it to their assembly line."

The main industries that the local plant services are heavy construction equipment and agriculture equipment.

"Some industries we are looking to service in the future would be shipbuilding and tank and vessel manufacturers," Ford said. "This significant investment by Ryerson represents our commitment to Pikeville and to Wayne County to continue to grow our plate fabrication business to support our customers in the Carolina-Virginia market.

"The expansion and equipment will allow us to pursue new opportunities and new industries that we do not serve today. So this facility is going to be very, very important to us."