Local contractors want Giles County work - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Local contractors want Giles County Celanese work

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Back in October, WSLS told you about a major economic project coming to Giles County.

The Celanese corporation and the governor's office announced last year the company would invest $150-million to switch the boilers at its Pearisburg plant from coal-fired to natural gas fired.  The project was supposed to bring 22 new jobs to the area and take about 200 construction workers jobs to make the change.

Some local contractors are worried Celanese could be seeking people out-of-state to fill those jobs.

"Let's keep local jobs for local labor for kids and people that's unemployed around here" said Toney Rigali, a pipe trades organizer as he handed out flyers to people in Giles County.

Rigali is working together with Southwest Virginia Building and Construction Trades Council president Neal Herndon who says local contractors haven't been contacted about working for the upcoming Celanese project.

"By keeping local people for local jobs it would put them on those jobs. a lot of these projects that come up they bring tradespeople from out of the state and out of the area" said Rigali.

"Unless somebody speaks out or does something about it, it's just going to go on status quo and things never change but this is an opportunity to be ahead of the ballgame a little bit" said Herndon, adding there are 1300 trade skills men in the Roanoke / Giles County area.

"Plumbers, carpenters, iron workers, electricians" said Herndon.  "There are capable contractors by the hundreds right here in the local area. When you use a local contractor you keep your money here in the two Virginias where it belongs. It makes no sense for them to do this."

The Giles County Industrial Development Authority says they recently met with Georgia based Overland Contracting Inc.. Overland told them they're going to try to hire as many local workers as possible.

A spokesman for Black & Veatch, the parent company of Overland, said they would be looking to hire locally but were referring additional questions to Celanese.

"As we continue to finalize details of the project with our client, it's too early to know the full scope of the hiring, however, Black & Veatch has a strong history of investments in the local community" said a statement from Black & Veatch.

Celanese said they expect the construction firm to set up a local interview process by June 1, with construction to begin in July.

Herndon says they'll be back in Giles County Thursday with more flyers.

Governor McDonnell announced last year that Celanese had been approved to receive $2 million in economic development incentives.  

According to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership:

The $500,000 Governor's Opportunity Fund Grant was paid to the County, on behalf of the Company, earlier this year.  The Company will have until December 31, 2015 to create at least 22 new jobs and to invest at least $145 million.  It will need to maintain those new jobs at least through December 31, 2017.  If these performance criteria are not met, there may be an obligation on behalf of the Company to repay some or all of the GOF Grant. 

The $1,500,000 Virginia Investment Partnership Grant is to be paid in 5 annual installments of $300,000 each, with the first payment due 2 years after the Company has created at least 22 new jobs and invested at least $145 million.


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