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Governor Welcomes Horsehead to Rutherford County

SPINDALE — The largest zinc producer in the United States — Horsehead Corporation — is bringing its newest facility to Rutherford County, investing $360 million here with intentions of bringing 250 jobs to the area.

Gov. Beverly Perdue made the announcement Monday afternoon at Isothermal Community College’s Foundation in front of elected officials, business people, students and Horsehead company leaders.

“It’s a really big day,” Perdue told the crowd. 

Horsehead Corporation, a leading U.S. environmental services provider and producer of specialty zinc and zinc-based products, will build the state-of-the-art zinc production facility off U.S. 221 near the Hicks Grove Community. 

Rutherford County Economic Development Commission Director Tom Johnson said Monday’s announcement is the “ single largest manufacturing announcement in the history of Rutherford County . . . . Those jobs will pay an average wage in excess of $41,000 per year, which is considerably higher than the County average of about $29,000.”

In addition to the 250 jobs at Horsehead when the plant opens in 2013, about 1,000 construction employees will be hired to build the facility beginning in early 2012.

Horsehead Chief Executive Officer Jim Hensler said it was a good day for Horsehead in announcing its plan “to build a new zinc manufacturing facility in Rutherford County in what will be a transformational project for Horsehead Corporation.”

“We are excited to begin the project and are pleased with the support we have received in North Carolina at the state and local level,” Hensler said. “We believe this location is ideally located among our four recycling facilities and will be within one-day delivery distance for the majority of our customers. We look forward to becoming an important part of the local economy, providing construction jobs over the next two years and manufacturing jobs thereafter.

“We considered numerous potential sites in multiple states but chose to locate here because of the attractive power costs, access to a skilled work force and government incentives. We appreciate the business friendly environment in North Carolina and look toward to becoming a part of Rutherford County and the Forest City community.”

Perdue said this is part of her office’s top priority.

“My top priority is creating jobs, both attracting new companies and helping existing businesses grow and thrive,” Perdue said. “Horsehead Corporation selected North Carolina for this state-of-the-art facility because we have a history of making the right strategic investments in our people and our state — in education and infrastructure — that have won us national rankings as one of the top states in which to do business. We have built a business-friendly environment that is drawing more and more green jobs and cutting-edge businesses to our state. I will continue to aggressively pursue new jobs for North Carolina until everyone who wants a job has one.”

Perdue said company officials told her the incentives and the utilities offered to Horsehead from the state, Rutherford County and Forest City in addition to Rutherford County’s “quality work force” were their reasons for bringing the Pittsburgh, Pa. company here.

Perdue thanked the company officials for choosing North Carolina, “the best place to work, live, play and retire to locate here. . . . We’re glad you figured it out, too.”

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, of Rutherfordton, said the announcement is the culmination of people “working together that have worked very hard for many long months.”

He said in November 2010 when Facebook announced its decision to locate a data center in Rutherford County, “it changed the landscape” of Rutherford County. He said Facebook’s location here was a game changer for the county, adding that Horsehead’s announcement was “a touchdown . . . with the game change.”

“It will be a leader in industry and others will locate there,” Dalton said. “ Ancillary businesses will locate here.”

Dalton said that “we’ve had a tough time” in Rutherford County and Horsehead coming to the county provides opportunity for people to feed, clothe and provide their families with a greater quality of life.

While individual wages for the 250 jobs will vary by job function, the overall average for the new jobs will be more than $41,000 a year, not including benefits. Rutherford County is a tier one county with an average annual wage of $28,392.

Horsehead Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., is a leading recycler of zinc-bearing waste produced by the steel mini-mill manufacturing process. This facility will utilize the ZINCEX solvent extraction technology, which discharges significantly less greenhouse gas emissions than older metal smelting technologies. The plant designs will rely upon sustainable manufacturing practices which will produce high grade zinc solely from recycled materials, and will utilize less energy which will result in significantly less fossil fuel being necessary to produce that energy.

Other partners that assisted with this project include: the N.C. Department of Commerce, N.C. Community Colleges, N.C. Department of Transportation, N.C. Rural Center for Economic Development, Golden LEAF Foundation, the Town of Forest City, Rutherford County, Rutherford County Economic Development, Appalachian Regional Commission, Duke Energy, and PSNC Energy.

Copyright 2011 The Digital Courier. All rights reserved. 

Read more: The Digital Courier - Governor helps welcome Horsehead to county