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WVEDA helps fund Italian company’s first U.S. operation

By Caitlin Cook, Staff writer

West Virginia Economic Development Authority board members agreed Thursday to help bring Pietro Fiorentini’s first United States manufacturing operation to West Virginia, approving a $1 million loan for the company.

The Italian-based firm will open its first United States operation in the former Blaw Knox building near Wheeling.

“It’s very good for West Virginia, obviously,” said WVEDA Executive Director David Warner. “The Marcellus Shale development attracted them to the area of the country, but they did chose a site in West Virginia over other surrounding states.”

The company plans to produce items used in gas production, like governors, valves, vessels and regulators. The loan will help finance equipment at the manufacturing and assembly facility.

“It’s a good international company and we are happy to have them here,” Warner said.

The first $800,000 of the loan will have a 10-year, 2 percent fixed interest rate. The remaining $200,000 will have a 10-year, United States Treasury interest rate of .75 percent.

The company expects to employ 31 people after one year, and 41 after three. The company’s website said the plant is expected to cost $9 million.

Pietro Fiorentini officials could not be reached for comment.

No other new projects were presented.

“I thought there would be more activity this month,” Warner said. “Again, there are several projects in the process of becoming board ready.”

Members gave final approval for a 15-year, $484, 785 loan to Jabla. The Florida-based real estate company owns the building Saminco does business from in Huntington.

“It’s purely an expansion for more space,” Warner said. The loan will help finance the renovation of the facility. Warner said both companies are fully obligated to the agreed loan terms.

This is the first time the authority has done business with Saminco. The company designs and manufactures a variety of traction controllers including controllers for mining vehicles such as shuttle cars as well as controllers for electric motor driven vehicles powered by batteries, diesel-hybrid and fuel cells.

With 34 employees now Saminco hopes to have 39 after one year, and 54 after three years.

Analabs received a three-month loan extension from board members.

“The project is proceeding and is almost complete,” Warner said.

Looking back on the WVEDA’s fiscal year that ended June 30, Warner deemed it a success.

“There were less direct loans approved but for an equal or greater dollar value total,” Warner said. “We’re still getting the same or more money out the door to West Virginia businesses.”

Warner said the final audit will be done sometime in the middle of September for the fiscal year, and current findings are subject to it.

“I’m confident our revenue will far exceed our expenses for the past 12 months for the year,” Warner said.

He added the West Virginia Certified Development Corporation has not been that successful in marketing and administering the Small Business Administration 504 loan program. The annual members report noted no 504 loan applications were received and no debentures were funded in the fiscal year ending June 30.

“The interest rate environment is at a point where market interest rates for private companies is probably at a historically low levels as far as interest rates from banks,” Warner said. “We have just not been able to overcome the interest rate condition in the national marketplace.

Members also voted to keep the current WVEDA officers, West Virginia Certified Development Corporation officers and the West Virginia Enterprise Advancement Corporation officers in place another fiscal year.

Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.cook@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113 or follow @caitlincookWV on Twitter.


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