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Official Gestamp opening set for Monday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gestamp will have its official opening in the stamping plant in South Charleston early next week, though the Spanish automotive company has been operating there since August.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, state and local leaders will join Gestamp officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday, according to a news release from the governor's office.

Gestamp officials announced in April it would move into the Charleston Stamping Plant in South Charleston. Officials of the company, which is worth $11 billion, said they would hire 300 to 400 people initially and could potentially hire more later.

South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens said Thursday the company has been working out of the stamping plant since August.

Ray Park has owned the building since 1969, according to Gazette reports. Park has leased the building over the years to American Motors Corp., Chrysler Corp, Volkswagen of America Inc., Checker Motors Corp., Mayflower and Union Stamping & Assembly.

In 2006, Union Stamping and Assembly declared bankruptcy after union members declined to make a round of concessions that would have substantially trimmed wages that averaged about $17.20 an hour. The plant had nearly 800 workers in 2004, according to Gazette reports.

The following year, Park committed to investing $20 million toward the facility's renovations. The state, under then-Gov. Joe Manchin's administration, invested $15 million as well. Manchin, a Democrat, is now West Virginia's junior U.S. senator.

Workforce West Virginia officials said Thursday the facility currently has 70 workers at the facility, 43 of which are full-time Gestamp employees. The rest are temporarily in probationary period, but will become full-time employees provided they pass background checks and drug tests, Sisk said.

The workers are producing parts for two sister plants, said Courtney Sisk, Workforce West Virginia spokeswoman.

Gestamp is hiring for several positions, Sisk said. Those interested should visit www.workforcewv.org to apply.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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