Power companies typically aren’t among the organizations credited with bringing investment and new jobs to a community, but increasingly electric utilities like Appalachian Power are doing more in the areas they serve to provide resources and collaborate with economic developers.
This proactive approach by Appalachian Power was evidenced this month when the ELDOR Corporation celebrated the grand opening of its first North American location in Botetourt County, Virginia.
The government-owned land the Italian auto parts maker purchased to build its first U.S. plant was an AEP project-ready site, which provided Botetourt County leaders a competitive advantage over other localities competing for the lucrative project.
Site-ready designation is particularly important to foreign investors considering a U.S. location for the first time and companies on a tight timeline. “Because the site had been thoroughly assessed through Appalachian Power’s Quality Site Program, we were prepared to meet ELDOR’S timeline for construction,” said Ken McFadyen, Botetourt County economic development director.
Sites selected for AEP’s Quality Sites Program undergo extensive evaluation to ensure they meet stringent readiness standards that are intended to minimize overall site location risk, save time and reduce site development costs. The AEP Quality Site Program is fully funded by the utility.
“The cost and reliability of power are naturally among the first questions a prospect will ask,” said John Smolak, Appalachian Power’s economic and business development director. “When utility questions are posed our team is ready with answers, and it was through these discussions we realized there were more ways we could help the communities we serve attract new industry and jobs.”
The ELDOR Corporation announced in early 2016 that it would locate in Botetourt County, and earlier this month held an elaborate ribbon cutting with hundreds of guests to showcase its new $75 million facility. The state-of-the-art plant employs 120 workers with plans to add more equipment and eventually employ 350 workers in four years. ELDOR makes ignition systems, electronic control units and hybrid and electric vehicle systems that will be shipped to its customers around the world.