By Candace Sipos -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- While many companies are going out of business and laying off employees, Rubbermaid Commercial Products, which has had its headquarters in the city for about 43 years, is bringing more than 70 new jobs to the area and investing more than $67 million in its facilities.
The company is expanding operations at the city's 3124 Valley Ave. location and establishing a distribution operation in Frederick County. That site will be the old General Electric lighting plant on Apple Valley Road, which has been sitting idle since it closed last year, according to Patrick Barker, executive director of the Winchester-Frederick County Economic Development Commission.
According to a news release issued by Gov. Bob McDonnell's office Thursday, the building will be transformed into a 454,000-square-foot "state-of-the-art logistics center".
"The majority of that investment is going to the city expansion," according to Suzanne West of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership "as well as the majority of the 71 jobs."
Barker said some of the positions will be logistical, while others will be office jobs.
He noted that discussions about these developments have been going on for more than a year. He encouraged local residents to start checking the normal websites for job information, but isn't sure exactly when the company will begin hiring.
"It'll be phased over several years, but I think some of this will happen fairly quickly," he said.
He emphasized the importance of the expansion, which will make the company more competitive by adding energy-efficient injection molding machines to the city plant and help build Winchester's economy.
"It's a win-win," Barker said. "It obviously shows where Winchester stands as far as its future with Rubbermaid. Secondly, the more significant part for the county, what does it mean for the long term?"
According to Rubbermaid Commercial Products spokeswoman Jenn Schneider, the company hopes to complete the city expansion by the end of 2012, and the county project by the end of the first quarter in 2013.
"With all the news about other companies that are not doing so well, to be part of a company that is expanding and doing something for future growth, it just makes you feel proud," Schneider said. "It says a lot for the community as well."
She doesn't believe the expansion would be possible without the combined efforts of the state, city and county. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the city, county and the EDC to secure the project, according to the news release.
McDonnell approved a $300,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund for the city's end of the expansion and a $600,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership program, the release states.
The city is also applying for another grant from the Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund to help improve transportation.
"I just think it's a great time of year to be talking about something so positive," Schneider said.