PRICHARD- Italian auto parts maker Sogefi Group plans a $20 million expansion of its plant in West Virginia that will create 250 new jobs, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said Tuesday.
When the expansion is complete, the plant in Prichard in Wayne County will produce engine intake manifolds for General Motors, along with its existing line of fuel pumps and filters for other automakers.
Tomblin said in a news release that he and Sogefi officials had discussed the expansion since 2012. He met in October with Sogefi CEO Guglielmo Fiocchi in France during a 13-day investment trip to Europe.
"The plant that we opened in West Virginia in 2004 was the first entry of Sogefi S.p.A into North America," Fiocchi said in the release. "Our company has had great success in West Virginia, and we consider the partnership with the state and local government officials to be important factors."
Tomblin said the expansion project is scheduled to begin in January and be completed by May. New equipment will begin arriving in May.
"I've said time and again, I will go anywhere to bring more good-paying jobs to West Virginia," Tomblin said in the release. "When I met with Mr. Fiocchi last month in France, he praised West Virginia's hardworking people and his company's experience in the state. Sogefi's decision to grow its Wayne County operation is a vote of confidence in all the things we've done to make West Virginia a great place to do business."
Sogefi plans to begin hiring engineers and other skilled workers in January, and to begin hiring production workers beginning around April.
Huntington Area Development Council President Gary Walton said the expansion indicates that the region's economy is improving.
Sogefi has operations in 21 countries.