Borealis Compounds Inc., a supplier of plastic materials to the auto industry, will locate a new production facility on N.C. 90 just east of Taylorsville in Alexander County, officials announced Tuesday.
The company is buying the 50,000-square-foot Alexander Railroad Co. shell building, and plans to initially invest $15 million in the new plant and create 37 jobs, said officials.
The Alexander Railroad Co. funded the building to attract a major industry to the county.
David Icenhour, executive director of the Alexander County Economic Development Corp., announced the project at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Alexander County commissioners.
“Borealis is an international company, and they evaluated numerous other sites. Our selection for this facility speaks well for the economic development effort of local and state governments. We are very fortunate to have them in Alexander County. They have a very strong business model, which we’re very confident will result in a long-term presence in Alexander County,” Icenhour stated.
“I appreciate the vision that Alexander Railroad Co. had to build the shell building. It’s not easy to build something without a tenant; you’re taking that risk,” said Milton Campbell, chairman of the Alexander commissioners.
“It was a joint venture, with assistance from Alexander County, but the heavy lifting was done by Alexander Railroad Co. as far as the capital injection. We appreciate the vision to make this happen,” said Campbell.
Ken Wiecoreck, president of Borealis, said at the meeting that without the shell building, the company wouldn’t be locating in Alexander County. He praised the site’s potential for expansion.
“I appreciate the foresight of the Alexander Railroad Co. We evaluated about 40 different locations in multiple states,” Wiecoreck related. “The shell building really made a tangible vision for us. You had a clear commitment to having some industry in this area, and it was really clear to us and it helped us make the decision.”
The Alexander Railroad Co., founded in 1946, runs daily weekday service between Statesville and Taylorsville. The 18-mile railroad is equipped with four locomotives.
Ben Zachary, president and general manager of Alexander Railroad Co., said, “This doesn’t happen very happen very often, and it only happens when everyone works together.”
Zachary added, “The railroad being the developer and the service provider for the building allowed us to set the bar high. We wanted a clean manufacturer, we wanted a good corporate citizen, we wanted a significant bump in the tax base for an industry, we want well-paying jobs, and we wanted a rail user,” Zachary continued. “I’m proud to say that Borealis cleared that bar. I want to thank Borealis for the confidence you’ve placed in us.”
Wiecoreck said that while the building is already constructed, further work is needed over the next year to prepare for production. He said that work will begin on the building at the end of 2017, and will continue through 2018. A rail spur will be installed, and after that, most of the activity is going to occur inside the building, including offices, laboratory, process equipment, support equipment and exterior silos.
“What’s very important to all us is the hiring of personnel, which is one of the reasons we selected this region with the support that we’ve seen from the community, as well as the educational services that are nearby,” Wiecoreck stated.
While compensation will vary by position, average salaries for the new jobs will be $40,125, above the current average annual wage in Alexander County of $30,631.
Wiecoreck said the product created at the Alexander plant will come out in pellet form, which will then be shipped to auto-parts manufacturers which will use the materials to create automotive components such as fenders, dashboards, grills, and more for companies such as General Motors, Ford, BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo and others.
A performance-based grant of $100,000 from the One North Carolina Fund will help facilitate Borealis’ move to Alexander County, in addition to funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the North Carolina Railroad Co. and local incentives.
Borealis AG, with global headquarters in Vienna, Austria, serves a variety of industries, including automotive, energy, and consumer products sectors.
The company’s applications in the automotive industry include bumpers, body panels, trims, dashboards and other key components.
Borealis Compounds’ new facility in Alexander County will serve automotive industry customers in North America.