Jacksonville plant to expand, adding 106 jobs
by Laura Gaddy
Feb 20, 2014 | 10260 views |  0 comments | 121 121 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley looks at engine parts made by Shelco Foundries in Jacksonville. Bentley was on hand to help break ground for an expansion at the plant that will lead to the employment of 106 additional workers.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley looks at engine parts made by Shelco Foundries in Jacksonville. Bentley was on hand to help break ground for an expansion at the plant that will lead to the employment of 106 additional workers.
JACKSONVILLE — Workers in hard hats, a few international business people and local elected officials encircled Gov. Robert Bentley in a Jacksonville plant Thursday to hear that Shelco Foundries is expanding.

The announcement had been expected for several months. The company, which makes iron components for large engines, plans to add 106 jobs by the end of 2015. The workers who take the new jobs will fill a new 65,000-square-foot machining facility to be built at the company’s current location on Francis Street.

“This has been a good week,” said Bentley, referring to the 2,000 new jobs expected for a Remington Arms manufacturing plant in Huntsville. “One hundred and six jobs here in Jacksonville are just as important to Jacksonville as 2,000 jobs are to Huntsville.”

Gnutti Carlo USA, an engine component manufacturer with a presence in at least seven countries, bought Shelco Foundries’ former parent company, WH Industries, in January 2012. In so doing, it also took ownership of Shelco Foundries and began making improvements at the Jacksonville business, said Paul Buchanan, Gnutti’s managing director.

Buchanan said that when Gnutti took over, Shelco employed 44 workers. Today it employs 97, he said.

Since purchasing the foundry, Gnutti has also paid $100,000 to clean an existing machine shop and improve the building there. In addition, Buchanan said, the company has invested $250,000 in equipment upgrades at the foundry in the last year.

The city of Jacksonville, the Calhoun County Commission, the Calhoun County Economic Development Council and the state worked together for several months to woo the company to expand in Alabama. Shelco Foundries already had a machining facility in New Jersey, which the company will close Dec. 31 to end its presence in that state.

Buchanan said the New Jersey machining plant is outdated and there is little land around it to expand. By moving the operation to Alabama, he said, the company will have its foundry and its machining facility within walking distance of each other.

Buchanan said those factors heavily influenced the company’s decision to move to Alabama, but Gnutti also had a financial incentive from the city, county and state.

“The right place for our future was not in New Jersey, the right place for our business was right here in sweet home Alabama,” Buchanan said.

The company will receive breaks on sales, use and property taxes. Jarrod Simmons, Jacksonville’s financial control officer, said the city is estimating the value of the tax break on use and sales taxes — which applies only to goods and services bought for the expansion — at $207,500.

An additional property tax abatement will save the company $815,000 over the next 10 years, Simmons said.

On top of that, the company may receive incentives for reaching its employment goals. If it reaches the benchmarks, the state will give the company $150,000, the city will donate $62,500, the Calhoun County Economic Development Council will provide $62,500 and the Calhoun County Commission will add $25,000.

The company will receive half of the money upon hiring 50 percent of the planned additional employees, and the remaining amount upon hiring all 106 additional employees, Simmons said.

The Thursday announcement began with a groundbreaking ceremony for the new machining facility. That was followed by a series of remarks to foundry employees and a luncheon at Jacksonville State University. In addition to city leaders, university administrators, and economic developers, Mario Gnutti, vice president of the company, and Paolo Groff, the company’s CEO, attended the ceremonial events.

The luncheon ended shortly after Mayor Johnny Smith handed Gnutti a ceremonial key to the city and explained the significance of having the company expand in Jacksonville.

“Think about it,” Smith said. “That’s 106 families that are going to have somebody in that family employed, that might not otherwise have a job.”

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.

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