A United Kingdom-based manufacturer will invest $8 million to build a plant and bring 49 jobs to the Dan River Region over five years.
Harlow Group Ltd. will locate its first U.S. manufacturing plant in the Cyber Park in Danville. Founded in 1975 and based in Harlow, U.K., the company offers services ranging from product design to production of sheet metal products. Its customers include GE, Pitney Bowes, Raytheon, Sony, BF Goodrich and Lotus.
The company will build a 30,000-sqaure-foot facility and operate in Danville as Harlow Fastech. It will be in the Hawkins Building at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research during construction.
In addition, the company will establish a U.S. Training Center of Excellence, a new facility that will focus on additive manufacturing.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced the company’s plans at the Institute on Thursday afternoon.
Northam praised the collaborative effort among officials in Danville and Pittsylvania County to attract Harlow.
“This is a team effort,” Northam told those in attendance, which included state and local elected officials and other community leaders. “Nobody can do this by themselves. All of you have worked so hard to make economic development like this possible.”
“You are all a model,” he added. “You are something that makes us proud.”
Bob Warren, chairman of the Danville-Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority, said the jobs’ average salary will be about $50,000. Danville and Pittsylvania County, through RIFA, jointly own the Cyber Park.
Warren credited Danville Economic Development Director Telly Tucker and Pittsylvania County Economic Development Director Matt Rowe for their work to attract projects like Harlow to the region.
“These two … work close together,” Warren said during his speech. “They don’t see borders. Harlow is here because they see this collaboration and commitment.”
Harlow makes aerospace parts for Boeing, sterilizer tanks for hospitals, and radar systems for shipping, among other products, the company’s joint founder and director David Gordon-Smith said during a speech following the governor’s announcement.
“We make a lot of parts that come to the U.S.,” he said.
Harlow officials pointed to Virginia’s natural beauty and the passion and drive of people he met in the Dan River Region as reasons the company decided to bring its plant to Danville. The state competed against Alabama for the project.
“Virginians have been amongst the most welcoming and friendly people and their appetite to make things work and overcome obstacles is second to none,” CEO and founder Alan Pearce said.
Smith pointed to a visit with Ben Davenport, chairman of First Piedmont Corp. and Davenport Energy, as a moment that stood out for him.
“We saw the most beautiful sunset on Smith Mountain Lake,” Smith said during his speech, pointing to the region’s beauty.
Company officials were also struck with the hospitality of local residents.
“Wherever we’ve gone, we’ve been made to feel really, really welcome,” Smith said.
Pearce said the primary motivation for choosing Danville was its community and its workforce development efforts. He compared Danville’s appeal to that of Coca-Cola.
“Once you’ve sipped it, you have to finish it,” Pearce said during his speech.
The area offers an educated workforce and an educational ecosystem that helps Harlow be competitive, he added.
“We’re delighted to be joining the community,” he said.
State Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Moneta, also pointed to Danville’s tenacity in the face of economic challenges after the decline of textiles and tobacco in the region.
“I see a collection of citizens of the city of Danville who have never given in, never given up,” Stanley said.
Education, especially the precision machining programs offered at Danville Community College, is leading the way in the Dan River Region, Stanley added.
Delegate Danny Marshall, R-Danville, pointed to Harlow’s announcement as a culmination of years of efforts among officials in the region.
“We’ve prepared for this for years,” Marshall said. “We’ve invested in workforce training.”
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the city of Danville, the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, and the Virginia Tobacco Commission to secure the project for Virginia.
Northam approved a $147,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to help Danville with the project. The tobacco commission approved $315,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds for the project.
Harlow is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone program, which is administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
The Virginia Jobs Investment Program will provide funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities.