CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gestamp West Virginia plans to employ 150 people by June and 250 by the end of next year, a company official said.Employment at the South Charleston facility has increased from nine people in June to 91 as of Tuesday morning, said Paul Meisel, controller at Gestamp West Virginia.The company is working on its business plan to employ 400 people within five years, he said.Employment numbers are difficult to predict until within one year and a half, he said.
"The plan to get there looks to me to be fairly clear," Meisel said. "The issue is exactly which customers are we going to sell business to?"Meisel said the company's ability to hire has been affected somewhat by difficulty in finding qualified, drug-free employees, but not more than in other states where he's worked."I've worked for several different companies in a lot of locations and in recent years, any time we're hiring people we find that there's a fallout of folks that can't pass a drug screen," Meisel said. "The number may vary, but it's a problem everywhere."The company has had "good luck" finding engineers and business people in West Virginia, he said. Also at the South Charleston EDA meeting, Rev. Steven Smith of the United Disciples of Christ Church said construction has started on a new church facility on 71 acres of land that the congregation purchased on the backside of the West Virginia Regional Technology Park in South Charleston.The church hopes to complete the two-story, 15,327-square-foot building by the end of February, he said. The church will hold around 500 people.Smith said he hopes to open the building up for community use. The church is hoping to partner with other organizations to build athletic fields, outdoor picnic areas, playgrounds, walking trails and the like on the land, he said.Bob Anderson, business recruiter for South Charleston, recognized Larry Levak, who will retire as advertising director of Charleston Newspapers Dec. 31 after 33 years with the company."He has meant so much to us," Anderson said of Levak.Anderson said advertising in Charleston Newspapers has helped South Charleston attract businesses to the city and crowds to its special events.Levak said he has mixed emotions about retirement. He's been at the newspaper so long that the employees have become family, he said.
Daily Gazette Co. President Elizabeth Chilton said Levak is one of the nicest people she's met. He'll be missed at the newspaper, she said.Reach Lori Kersey at firstname.lastname@example.org