Weirton manufacturing companies get loan help from state agency

Two manufacturing companies are planning to jump-start operations in Weirton with help from the West Virginia Economic Development Authority.

EDA members gave final approval for a $1.575 million loan for a 10-year term to manufacturing startup Maple Industries, which will operate at the closing Ball Corporation plant in the Northern Panhandle city.

Maple Industries will use the loan to buy machinery and manufacturing equipment to help it produce metal cans.

“They eventually become food or aerosol cans, and there’s definitely a need for that everywhere,” CEO David Maple said at the EDA’s monthly meeting Thursday.

Ball’s closure, expected to happen by the end of this month, will put more than 300 people out of work in Weirton.

Maple Industries won’t replace all of those jobs right away — it will employ around 30 people when it begins manufacturing, Ball said. But the plant, currently used for flat sheet production, employs many people with a skill set the startup could use, he said.

“They let go of some pretty strong candidates, so we’ve been going through the interview process with some of them,” Ball said.

Maple, who used to work at the Ball plant as a manager, said Weirton’s proximity to markets in Ohio and New York gives it an advantage over other locations. Much of the equipment necessary for metal can production is already installed in the plant, he said.

The EDA also gave preliminary approval for a $2.25 million loan for a 15-year term for the purchase and renovation of a Weirton building that Bidell Gas Compression is planning to take over. The loan would go to the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle, which would then lease the building to Bidell.

Bidell will make, sell, lease and service natural gas compression equipment in a 100,000-square-foot machine shop once owned by ArcelorMittal Steel. The company expects about 130 people to be employed at the facility by 2019.

The manufacturing operation will be the first in the U.S. for Bidell, a subsidiary of the Canadian firm Total Energy Services Inc.

“Our company conducted an extensive search throughout the northeastern United States,” Bidell President Sean Ulmer said in a news release issued by Gov. Jim Justice’s office. “This location in the City of Weirton provided us with the physical building and land we required, as well as a talented and available workforce.”

In other news, EDA board members:

n Gave preliminary approval for a $1.7 million loan for a 10-year term to Fairmont Tool. The company would use the loan to pay off existing debt with People’s Bank. The Fairmont-based company manufactures various machined and fabricated parts.

n Gave final approval to a $675,000 loan for a 15-year term to real estate holding company FW Properties. The company will buy two buildings and eight acres of land in Martinsburg with the loan.

n Passed a resolution to purchase a building in Martinsburg the EDA currently subleases to the West Virginia National Guard adjutant general’s office. The EDA will buy the building from current owner Teton Sales for $1.25 million. It will continue to lease the building to the office.

Reach Max Garland at max.garland@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4886 or follow @MaxGarlandTypes on Twitter.

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