UPDATE 10/15/12 @ 4:44 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The ribbon was cut, and the South Charleston plant was up and running Monday.
"And we've got a tremendous opportunity to create a lot of jobs," U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said.
Monday was day one for the 70 employees at Gestamp, a multibillion dollar, Spanish-based company that designs and manufactures metal components for the automotive industry.
At the South Charleston plant, workers will stamp out metal sheets for the skeleton and panels or cars and other automobiles.
"I remember when they first came through there. We drove around and came back to the engineering office, and they said, 'Mr. Park, we've got to have this building,' " said Ray Park of Park Corporation, the company that owns the building.
After working with state and local government, Gestamp was able to sign a lease with Park Corporation, which owns the building.
"We spent about $40 million renovating the building and going through all the equipment inside and out," Park said. "And, as you can see, 1 million square feet of just epoxy floors, that's kind of unusual. But it's been a lot of fun, and we've had this building for 42 years."
By the end of 2012, the plant will have between 100 and 120 workers.
"There's not too many facilities out there that are a million square feet that we have to fill up so it's a big task," said Craig Parsons, the vice president of sales and business development for Gestamp.
And Gestamp’s business plan has them buying more equipment and hiring more than 400 more employees over the next few years.
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"This is a tremendous opportunity not only for the Kanawha Valley but for the entire State of West Virginia," said Gov. Tomblin.
"This was a collaborative effort between Gestamp, Park Corporation, the City of South Charleston, the Kanawha County Commission and the State of West Virginia. We all worked together to make this opportunity a reality. This project truly validates the efforts and hard work of so many people. This is a great day for West Virginia!"
Gestamp is an international group dedicated to the design, development and manufacture of metal components and structural systems for the automotive industry.
"Immediately the City of South Charleston will see employees moving onto the site, applications being accepted and investment made in the local economy," said Jeff Wilson, President and CEO of Gestamp.
The site, owned by Park Corporation, contains more than one million square feet under roof and over 30 acres at its South Charleston stamping facility.
"It was so incredibly easy to work on such a large project in such a short amount of time, with the efforts of so many dedicated individuals," said Ray Park, Chairman of the Park Corporation. "I'm just so happy about the Valley putting people back to work - that is what makes me the happiest of all."
"Working with city leaders we are beginning to see the fruits of our labors to develop a business climate that will bring more businesses to South Charleston," said Mayor Frank Mullens.
"When it was announced the stamping plant would close years ago many thought the jobs would be gone forever - and many lost hope," said Kent Carper, President of the Kanawha County Commission. "We now know, because of reform efforts of then Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, then Governor Joe Manchin and the Kanawha County delegation, jobs are returning to the Kanawha Valley."
We have a crew at the announcement.
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Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced Tuesday afternoon that a company is planning to invest $100 million into the facility.
Tomblin says the investment promises between 400 to 700 new jobs to South Charleston.
Two states, including West Virginia, were fighting for the company.
South Charleston City Council approved an ordinance last week that would give an occupation tax credit for new manufacturing businesses.
We have a crew at the manufacturing plant.
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