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Governor: Success in one place lights spark
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Gov. Terry McAuliffe announces Friday that United Kingdom-based Kilgour Industries Ltd. will build its first facility in the United States in Henry County. (Bulletin photo)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Gov. Terry McAuliffe, speaking in Henry County on Friday for the first economic development announcement of his term, said success in one part of Virginia will help set the stage for success in the state as a whole.

To make that argument in areas of Northern Virginia and other population centers, McAuliffe said he tells officials that “we are a commonwealth. Obviously, we need the whole community” and state “working together.”

“We need all cylinders firing. Northern Virginia needs to be helping Southside and Southwest Virginia” and vice versa, he said. “We are all one, and we all need to help one another.”

“When I campaigned, I talked about working” on the economies in Southside and Southwest Virginia, McAuliffe said after Friday’s announcement that Kilgour Industries Ltd., a United Kingdom-based supplier of aircraft airframe and engine machined products, will locate in Henry County in a 59,000-square-foot facility on an 8.5-acre tract in the Patriot Centre.

Kilgour specializes in computerized numerical control (CNC) machining, wet chemical surface treatments and sub-assemblies of aerospace components, according to a news release.

Ray Kilgour, CEO of Kilgour, and Mark Heath, president/CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., said the company will create 155 jobs that will pay an average of $14.77 per hour.

Kilgour said the company hopes to build the new facility — its first in the United States — this summer and begin hiring in the fall. Production is expected to start in 2015. He added that the company hopes to expand locally some day, but said there is no timeline for an expansion at this point.

“This is just the first building block for their business,” McAuliffe said, and noted that the aerospace sector has been among those targeted by local economic development officials.

Hailing the announcement as “significant economic news for a rebounding community” that was hard-hit by industrial job losses, McAuliffe said that securing Kilgour’s $27.3 million investment and job creation is a win/win not only for the locality, but also is “good for Virginia (and) good for the company.” It also may be a drawing card to help attract other businesses to locate in the area.

Virginia — and Martinsville/Henry County — competed against Florida, Michigan and both Carolinas to land the project, “and we won.” That victory “is another testament” to the local area and to Virginia, McAuliffe said.

Getting the project in Virginia and in Henry County was a group effort, he added.

“We all know the headwinds we face” when competing to get economic projects, McAuliffe said. “I’m glad Martinsville and Henry County is showing the rest of Virginia” the elements needed to compete successfully.

Cooperation and working together on projects is mandatory, he said.

In this case, the New College Institute (NCI) and Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) were instrumental in helping lure the company to Henry County, because they will work to train potential employees on machines that are already here.

“Education is key,” and programs offered by NCI and PHCC will help “Virginia to prepare for the 21st-century technology,” the governor said. “If you look at all the economic data for the next 10 years,” it shows the importance of education. That is why he supports education and has called for Standards of Learning reforms.

A number of other agencies and individuals partnered to help land the deal, including the EDC, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM). State Sen. Frank Ruff and Del. Terry Kilgore also worked on the project, as did numerous other individuals and agencies, according to McAuliffe and officials.

McAuliffe approved a $250,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $1.15 million in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds to help attract the company.

“It is an honor to be here,” McAuliffe said, adding that it was the first of what he hopes will be many other announcements for the area. “This truly is a momentous day.”

 

 
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