Doubles Huntersville workforce
HUNTERSVILLE – Saertex USA, a manufacturer of technical fabrics used to make blades for wind turbines, will add 178 jobs and invest $6.5 million at its Huntersville plant in the next three years.
The expansion will more than double the jobs at the facility on Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road, which employs 126 people, Gov. Bev Perdue’s office announced Tuesday, Oct. 19. The announcement comes only weeks after Swiss cable manufacturing giant ABB said it would build a new $90 million facility in Huntersville and create about 100 jobs.
After much public speculation surrounded the ABB announcement – code named Project Fly by economic development officials – news of the Saertex expansion came quietly.
But that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of Huntersville officials.
“We’re excited by this opportunity and especially because two major companies have now announced either a new plant or a major expansion of an existing plant in Huntersville in just a matter of weeks,” Huntersville Commissioner Ken Lucas said. “If anything, it’s a twofold benefit for Huntersville.
“Not only does this increase our economic diversity and demonstrate the attractiveness of our area, I think this is a real sign that the economy may finally have turned the corner. We’re now seeing companies ready to step up and make investments again. They’ve hunkered down long enough, and they’ve weathered the storm. … This is a really good sign for Huntersville.”
In closed sessions, Huntersville commissioners have known for several months that Saertex was interested in expanding, Lucas said.
As part of a larger incentive package, Huntersville offered a business-investment grant for a five-year period based on jobs added and documented investment, Town Manager Greg Ferguson said. The grant is equivalent to 50 percent of property taxes paid during that period.
“We are pleased that a great existing company, Saertex, has decided to invest further in the community and create additional jobs,” Ferguson said. “A well-rounded economic development program focuses on retention and expansion as well as new location announcements.”
Saertex also gets a $110,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund, and besides the town, the governor’s office also credited the Lake Norman Economic Development Commission, Mecklenburg County, the N.C. Department of Commerce, the N.C. Community College System and the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.
Saertex’s Huntersville plant opened in 2000. Founded in 1982, Saertex is headquartered in Saerbeck, Germany, and operates facilities around the world. In October 2009, Christian Kissinger, manager of the local plant, told the Herald Weekly that Saertex workers in Huntersville use industrial size looms to weave materials made from glass, carbon fiber and aramid that its customers can join with resins and mold into elegant shapes that are lighter and stronger than steel and won’t corrode.
The plant made enough materials to produce 6,000 to 9,000 blades for wind turbines – or 2,000 to 3,000 wind machines – a year, Kissinger said at the time.
Lucas said he thinks more business investments will come for Huntersville and the Lake Norman area. “I’m very positive about the future,” he said. “Once one company commits, others will follow.”