By GREG RUSSELL
Register Staff Writer
A California-based manufacturer is tentatively on track to make a presence in Gainesville, joining an industrial park currently in development.
Once locally launched, the company could provide up to 250 jobs within four years.
Tuesday’s regular Gainesville City Council meeting included approval of a first reading allowing the Gainesville Economic Development Corporation (GEDC) to adopt truck body manufacturer Valew, Inc., as a project. If a second reading is approved during a meeting set for Aug. 20, the formal adoption would include a funding incentive of $350,000 for the company plus a free transfer of 15 acres of the GEDC’s new industrial park in north Gainesville.
This comes in exchange for the company’s roughly $8 million investment in buildings in equipment during a four-year term.
As reported Thursday, Gainesville City Council adopted an ordinance approving the re-zoning of 143 acres owned by the GEDC and recently annexed into the city. The GEDC purchased the property to establish an industrial park and requested the zoning district change to allow for industrial use. The property is located in the northern portion of the city, south of County Road 444 and west of the railroad tracks.
During the meeting, City Manager Barry Sullivan recommended approval of the re-zoning.
“The best use of this land is industrial,” he said Tuesday. “It’s surrounded by unincorporated areas and ag usage.”
Valew Truck Bodies opened in 1954, as a manufacturer of heavy-duty chassis units — for dump trucks, water trucks and various industrial haulers — and related accessories. It’s currently based in Adelanto, Calif., in a 25-acre facility. GEDC Executive Director Kent Sharp said the development of the industrial park, plus Gainesville’s considerable base of industrial and manufacturing workers, made the city a draw for Valew as company leaders sought to expand.
“They’re one of the leading companies in their market space and they have very healthy growth rates,” Sharp said Tuesday. “They’ve been around since the fifties and they’re just honestly looking for newer opportunities. They looked around in several states and cities.”
If the GEDC adoption is approved, Valew’s first year operating in Gainesville could provide 35 total jobs during the first year of production; 80 total jobs during the second year; 120 total jobs during the third year; and 250 total jobs by the end of its fifth year. The GEDC resolution also includes an incentive for Valew that provides the company with $5,000 per new eligible employee up to 40 employees. Such “eligible” employees would begin at $16.50 per hour or garner a full-time annual salary of $35,000.
Sharp, citing those factors during Tuesday’s meeting, credited Valew as an ideal incoming employer.
“They pay their employees very well, with major medical health insurance,” Sharp said. “We just feel like it’s a great fit for the community, with the kinds of jobs that the council and the economic development board have tasked to go after.”
For more information about Valew, visit www.valew.com.
By GREG RUSSELL
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