DUBLIN -- Georgia’s first factory from the former Soviet Union is headed to Dublin, Gov. Nathan Deal and other officials announced Monday afternoon.
Valmiera Glass, a Latvian-based manufacturer of fiberglass parts, will hire 150 people and invest $20 million during the next five years, Deal told a packed room at the McGrath Keen Sr. Conference Center, attached to the Dublin-Laurens County Chamber of Commerce.
“Your location is vital to attracting industries like this,” Deal told Dublin officials. Access to the Port of Savannah, Interstates 16 and 75, railways and airports are drawing international companies’ attention to the Dublin area, he said.
“They have a way of talking to each other,” said Deal, predicting more international manufacturers may follow soon.
More than 100 politicians, economic development officials and businesspeople from around the region waited an extra half hour for Deal to arrive for the afternoon announcement. Following the ceremony, the Dublin-Laurens County Development Authority company presented green blazers to state officials.
Jürgen Preiss-Daimler is the founder and owner of P-D FibreGlass Group, and Valmiera is one of its eight associated companies.
“My English is not good; I have a translator,” he said Monday, before continuing in German.
“As I bought the company in 1996 from Latvia, I could not have dreamed of a day like today,” Preiss-Daimler said. “It has taken us a long time to decide for the location in Dublin, but like we say in Germany, what is taking long will be good at the end.”
American customers have bought Valmiera products for several years and can now buy the same high-quality goods made domestically, he said through a translator.
“Valmiera Glass, the PD group and Dublin are forever one, as of today,” Preiss-Daimler said.
The 80,000-square-foot factory will be on 40 acres in a Laurens County industrial park at Interstate 16’s exit 49, the junction with Ga. 257. Construction will start immediately, and Valmiera Glass should occupy the building in November, said Scott Beasley, chairman of the Dublin-Laurens County Development Authority.
“They are fast-tracking it,” he said.
Dublin and Laurens County have attracted a number of international companies in the past few years, and Beasley said that’s no accident. Economic development officials look at which incentives drew their current industrial clients and seek to offer those to new firms, he said. The state also has a very effective international recruitment effort, Beasley said.
Incentives for the Valmiera development included the land, tax abatement, “some cash” and job training, he said.
Deal said Valmiera workers will be recruited and trained through the state’s QuickStart workforce program.
Beasley said local and state officials have been negotiating with Valmiera executives for about eight months. The jobs will pay above average for the area, he said. The company will have three years to reach the promised 150 jobs, but that’s just the development’s first phase.
“We don’t know about phase two yet,” Beasley said.
Valmiera will make fiberglass parts used in the oil and auto industries at its Dublin plant, he said.
“They have a number of contracts with auto manufacturers in the Southeast,” Beasley said.
Beasley said training will take place through Oconee Fall Line Technical College, but employees will be hired through the Georgia Department of Labor’s Dublin office, 910 N. Jefferson St. The phone number is 478-275-6525.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.