A Spanish firm will build it first American steel service center in Union County with an initial investment of $35 million that will create 40 new jobs.
Union County Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to approve third and final reading of an incentive package for Gonvauto South Carolina, a steel service center that will be built on a 24-acre site in the Bonham Community adjacent to SC 18. Gonvauto, which was previously known by the code name “Project Metric,” will be built by Gonvarri Steel Services. Gonvarri, which is based in Spain, is a provider of steel processing to manufacturers and its Gonvauto steel service center will supply the adjacent Gestamp South Carolina LLC automotive parts manufacturing facility. The Gestamp Corporation is the parent company of Gonvarri Steel Services.
In a statement announcing his company’s plans to locate its new steel service center in Union County, Gonvarri Steel Services CEO Josu Calvo said “this new facility consolidates the internationalization process of the company, incorporating our first center in the United States, reinforcing our company as a multinational leader in steel service centers, particularly in the automotive business.”
Gonvarri will initially invest $35 million in its Gonvauto facility. The investment is expected to create 40 new jobs. The company plans to make an additional investment of $15 million and create additional 25 jobs over the next 10 years.
The identity of Project Metric was revealed shortly before council voted to give final approval of the incentive package by Supervisor Tommy Sinclair. Sinclair welcomed the Gonvauto facility and praised Gonvarri’s decision to locate it in Union County. He also pointed to the collaborative effort involved in recruiting the company.
“I am delighted that Gonvarri Steel Services chose Union County to locate its first North American plant, Gonvauto South Carolina,” Sinclair said. “This is another exciting announcement for our community. It is the result of collaboration involving cooperation from several partners — Union County, the City of Union, the Union County Development Board, Lockhart Power Company, Norfolk Southern Railroad, South Carolina Department Of Transportation, South Carolina Department of Commerce, and two local companies, Gestamp South Carolina and Standard Textile.
“Gonvarri’s faith in our community is appreciated and we commit to them that their faith is well founded,” he said. “On behalf of Union County, we welcome you, we congratulate you, and we look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship. This certainly helps to solidify Union’s position among the regional support of the auto industry and signals I think more to come.”
The incentive package approved by council includes a fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement that will enable Gonvarri to pay a reduced property tax rate; a special revenue source credit; a transfer of land from the county to the company; an option for the company to purchase more land; and other related matters between the county and the company.
Sinclair said the land to be transferred to Gonvarri for the Gonvauto plant is 24 acres in the Bonham Community adjacent to SC 18 in the east. It is bounded on the north side by Fire Station Road, is adjacent on the south side to the Detention Center Road, and in the west by the Union County Jail. He said the land the company will have the option of buying is the four acres currently occupied by the old Weavetec building which is owned by the county but is currently being leased Standard Textiles.
In presenting the incentive package for third and final reading, Sinclair pointed out that there will be a number of changes in the immediate area to accommodate the construction, operation and possible future expansion of the Gonvauto facility.
“As a side note I would like to note that this will require some modifications to the current recycling convenience center and operations at the Bonham area,” Sinclair said. “As one can note already, the modifications are in utilities as well as recycling. Jail operations, detention center operations, public works and animal control will not be adversely effected but it will require cooperation from citizens and county operations during the transitions taking place along Highway 18. Let me express my appreciation in advance for the cooperation.”
Gonvarri’s decision to locate its Gonvauto facility in Union County also drew praise from state and local officials including Union County Development Board Chairman Joe Nichols.
“Many thanks to Gonvarri Steel Services for making this major decision to construct a steel processing plant in Union County,” Nichols said. “This facility will bring much-needed jobs as well as future growth opportunities. The Gonvarri team, Union’s local team and the SC Department of Commerce met each challenge collaboratively to make this project a success. Welcome Gonvauto South Carolina to Union.”
Development Board Executive Director Andrena Powell-Baker pointed out the impact of the new facility on the county’s future.
“It has been a pleasure working with the Gonvarri Steel Services team from Madrid over the past few months,” Powell-Baker said. “The project has been very fast paced and it took a tremendous amount of effort from our local and state teams to make it work. But at the end of the day, Gonvauto South Carolina found a perfect home in Union County and we have opened up new opportunities to a strong and stable new partner.
“Union County now has two of the very few Spanish-owned industrial companies in South Carolina and we are proud to have this new Gonvarri facility join our family of companies,” she said. “These kinds of wins provide leverage for continuing to open up the US 176 Corridor for industrial growth.”
In a statement released by the SC Department of Commerce, Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt said that “in South Carolina, we know how to make things. Gonvarri’s decision to establish its new facility here provides another boost to our state’s manufacturing sector, growing and producing more jobs for South Carolinians.”
The Department of Commerce reports that since Jan. 2011, South Carolina has recruited more than $6.8 billion in capital investment and more than 16,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector.
“With investments like this one from Gonvarri Steel Services, word is out all over the globe that South Carolina is the place to do business,” Gov Nikki Haley said. “We celebrate the company’s decision to invest $35 million and create 40 new jobs in Union County. This announcement is also a win for one of our state’s rural areas.”