UPDATED: Colorado bridge company to locate in Washington County
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Bristol Herald Courier
ABINGDON, Va. --
While 32 new jobs might not sound like that many, they represent an economic development success in these times, Virginia Lt. Gov Bill Bolling said Tuesday while announcing the arrival of a bridge fabricator in Washington County.
"That's kind of what we're seeing in this economic development marketplace right now," he said. "When you can get a company like Big R Bridge to come to your area and create 32 jobs in this economy, that's a good day's work."
Bolling was referring to jobs being created with the arrival of Big R Bridge, a Colorado-based bridge fabricator. Seeking to expand production to the East Coast, the company is locating production in the old Lynchburg Steel facility on Hillman Highway.
The company is expected to invest $1.9 million to fix up the old building and hire at least 32 over the next three years.
Big R Bridge President and CEO Cameron Klein said he hopes to have the facility operational by October and, eventually, to grow. He anticipates hiring skilled welders from the surrounding area.
He said he chose Washington County for its central location with to the network of interstate highways on the eastern seaboard, its rural atmosphere and its pro-business environment.
"We've been shipping bridges from Colorado," he said. "This will definitely open the door to serving the whole East Coast."
He said he was impressed with the reception the company has received.
"It's pretty impressive to have the lieutenant governor here," he said. "We're not Northrop Grumman or Microsoft, but we're Big R Bridge, and it's great to see such open arms welcoming us here to Washington County."
Virginia competed with the Carolinas for the company's new site - and the enthusiasm expressed here made a difference, he added.
"I remember driving up to this and saying, 'This is a unique fixer-upper opportunity,'" he said of the facility. "But after going to multiple states and jurisdictions ¿ I really realized that these people really want us to be here. We're not a huge corporation; we're a middle-sized business. But it really made the difference in terms of us looking at this facility and this location in a much different way."
Klein said the area feels like home for the 40-year-old company, which has other facilities in Greeley, Colo., and Dallas, Texas.
Here, he said, the company plans to build vehicle bridges, pedestrian bridges and architectural walkways.
An incentive package worth more than $175,000 was presented to the company during the ceremony Tuesday, including $125,000 from the Virginia Tobacco Commission and $50,000 from the Governor's Opportunity Fund. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance is to provide funding and services to help with the company's recruitment and training.
State Delegate Joe Johnson, D-Abingdon, who serves on the commission, praised the foresight of legislators to use the state's tobacco settlement money for a specific purpose: economic development. As a result, he said, projects like this one mean a growing economy and "more biscuits on the table" in Washington County.
At the same time, he said, Big R's location here will remove the eyesore of a long-empty building.
Bolling said this is the McDonnell administration's latest success in a program that has put extra emphasis on rural Virginia. In the last three years, he said, the state has invested $130 million in economic development and job creation, aggressively marketed the state and closed 835 economic development deals like the one here.
With its pro-business stance, he said Virginia has seen the creation of 130,000 jobs and an unemployment rate that's dropped from 7.4 percent to 5.6 percent.
"We want to be a state that makes things," he said, "not just a state that consumes things."
For additional information contact Ibbie Hedrick at 804-225-2487 or email@example.com.