February 15, 2012

On the day of love, Lubrimetal Corporation received plenty of it. The family-owned Italian company founded more than 50 years ago was showered with affection on Valentine's Day as it formally was welcomed to Caldwell County and, more specifically, Granite Falls.

"We're delighted you are coming to Caldwell County and my hometown of Granite Falls as well," N.C. Rep. Edgar Starnes said. "We remind you that today is Valentine's Day, and you give Valentines to your sweetheart. Today I'm here to say Granite Falls loves Lubrimetal. We want you to be our Valentine."

Tuesday's welcoming ceremony came near four weeks after the company's location to Granite Falls was announced. Lubrimetal is the world's third largest manufacturer of lubricants for the wire drawing industry with facilities in Italy, India and Brazil. The company plans to develop a manufacturing facility for the production of wet and dry lubricants for the drawing of steel and no-ferrous wires at the Granite Falls location, its first in the United States.

Giorgio Corso, executive vice president for Lubrimetal, said the company narrowed a search of 15 states down to four - Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and North Carolina - before settling here.

"When we came here we had no doubt this is where we should establish our company." Corso said. "We look forward to a long and prosperous future for Lubrimetal and the community we have joined."

The company plans to create 19 jobs and invest $1.9 million over the next three years in Granite Falls, though that number of jobs could grow to as many as 40. The project was made possible in part by a $38,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund. Production could begin in late May or early June at the former Mid-Atlantic Steel Corp. site in Granite Falls.

"This is a big day in a lot of ways as we welcome Lubrimetal to Granite Falls, Caldwell County and North Carolina," Caldwell County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Deborah Murray said. "Not very far from here is a piece of property that has been silent for a while. It used to be lively with jobs. The Mid-Atlantic Steel Corp. site has been waiting for just the right new owner/occupant to visit and breathe life into it. I think it waited just long enough for the Lubrimetal folks to come and put U.S. roots in Caldwell County."

Salaries at the company will vary by job function, but the average annual wage for the new jobs will be $41,316, plus benefits. The average annual wage in Caldwell County is $29,796.

The Corso family's decision to locate its first U.S. facility in Granite Falls was a result of working with numerous agencies at the state and local levels. Those partnerships led to a new business coming to Caldwell County.

"We did everything we could to make Lubrimetal feel at home in Granite Falls," Town Manager Jerry Church said. "We thank you for choosing Granite Falls for your first manufacturing facility in the United States. We look forward to working with you."

Dale Carroll, deputy secretary for the N.C. Department of Commerce, spoke of the importance placed on jobs these days in the midst of the recession that has eliminated  so many. He noted a resurgence in the filed of manufacturing. "We are beginning to see a resurgence in manufacturing, something I'm glad to see," Carroll said. "It's great to see companies like Lubrimetal restore that manufacturing heritage in the state and community like yours."

Granite Falls Mayor Barry Hayes noted the excitement of an international company locating a manufacturing facility in the southern Caldwell County town. "The Town of Granite Falls is extremely pleased and proud to have Lubrimetal locate its first U.S. facility here," he said. "We're grateful for the opportunity to share our traditions."

Dr. Caryl Burns - representing the Caldwell County School System, Granite Falls Town Council and the Caldwell County Sales Tax Reinvestment Committee - and Dr. Ken Boham, president of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, both spoke of the efforts their entities will make in producing the work force for Lubrimetal. "We're going to provide you with something special," Burns said. "That will be dedicated workers who are well-trained."

Boham added, "Your decision to locate in North Carolina, specifically Granite Falls, exuberates your brilliance. We know this will be an excellent relationship."

Corso will have plenty of flags to fly at the new facility once it opens. Starnes gave him a United States flag. Caldwell County Commission Chairman Ben Griffin presented him with a county flag, and Hayes handed over a Granite Falls town flag. Those went with a North Carolina state flag in a display case from Carroll presented on behalf of Gov. Bev Perdue.

"Thank you very much for the warm welcome," Corso said. "I'm very proud to be standing here today."

Murray closed the ceremony by saying, "They could have picked anywhere in the world to go. They did pick anywhere to go, and it was here."


by Nathan Key  nathankey@newstopic.net

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