New steel, aluminum tariffs have impact in Southside

Pittsylvania County company changing the way it expands

By Colter Anstaett - Southside Bureau Reporter

DANVILLE, Va. - Jarrett Welding in Danville uses a lot of steel and aluminum.

"We have a large machine shop to supply our customers with the parts they need to keep their machines going and spare parts for the parts room. We do a lot of fabrication of steel. We do a tremendous amount of structural steel, hand rails, mezzanines," company president John Carey said.

Carey said President Donald Trump's newly-approved 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum are both good and bad.

"It's going to raise the prices somewhat," Carey said. "The problem we have is, if we don't bring American steel back, if we go to war we won't have any materials."

While prices may change, Carey said the company won't change its focus on customers.

"Our customers always come first. We do everything we can to keep our prices down," Carrey said."

In part because of the tariffs, Amthor International will add on to its current facility in Gretna instead of building the 115,000-square-foot facility the company broke ground for in January.

The Tobacco Commission may reduce the amount of money the company was initially given for the new facility, but a representative from the Tobacco Commision said Tuesday that the company will still get some money because it is still expanding and creating new jobs. 

Amthor will, however, likely not get the $250,000 from the Commonwealth Opportunity Fund.

Pittsylvania County econoimic development director Matt Rowe said the expansion of the current facility will be about 40,000-square-feet.

It will amount to a roughly $2 million investment as opposed to the $7.1 million investment the new facility would have garnered.

The company still plans to hire the originally scheduled 90 employees as part of the expansion.

Rowe said that, as of Tuesday, 20 employees had already been hired. 

Danville economic development director Telly Tucker said the impact of the tariffs on the commonwealth, local, and federal economies is yet to be determined, but communication will be key.

"We'll keep an open line of communication with our elected officials at the state level, and at the federal level as well, about how regulatory decisions affect the outcome of businesses, the success of businesses or growth," Tucker said.

As of Tuesday, he was not aware of any current or prospective companies the city was working with planning to make changes as a result of the tariffs.

"At this point, it would be premature for me to say that they will or won't but certainly we'll keep that in mind," Tucker said. "Ultimately, if those decisions have to be made we'll inform our elected officials and community leaders about what may or may not happen."

On Tuesday, 10 News reached out to Amthor for an interview, but did not get a response.

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