Liberty County’s newest large employer was unveiled Monday at a news conference on its Tradeport East construction site. Firth Rixson Ltd., a U.K.-based manufacturer of engineered forged-metal products, will employ as many as 200 people at its closed-die forging plant. Construction on the 200,000 square-foot facility is slated to be complete late this year.
“We couldn’t have made a better decision than to locate here in Georgia, and in particular Liberty County,” said Andy Blanda, Firth Rixson manager of mergers and acquisitions.
Firth Rixson operates four other plants in the U.S. and has several other locations throughout Europe. The company has been developing land in the Tradeport East business park in Midway for several months but until now kept its identity secret, citing competition concerns.
Allen Brown, chairman of the Liberty County Development Authority, said at a time when companies are becoming increasingly selective about where and if they expand operations, often it is the cooperation and efforts of local business entities that tip the scales in a location’s favor.
“Our staff of professionals worked tirelessly, and that is often the tiebreaker,” Brown said. “Our existing companies export to more than 70 countries overseas, and now we’ll add another overseas-based company.”
Closed-die forging involves changing the shape of metal by pressing pieces between machined dies to take the shape of the recesses. The closed-die metal parts that Firth Rixson Forgings will manufacture are used primarily in the aerospace industry but also by gas turbine and marine markets, and by off-highway and heavy truck markets.
Commissioner Ken Stewart with the Georgia Department of Economic Development also attended the announcement ceremony. He said the quality of life in the county that compels residents to stay means the local workforce makes an ideal source of labor talent for Firth Rixson. “The workforce here, once you get them, they stay,” he said. “It is incumbent on us to continue to provide talent [for companies like Firth Rixson].”
Stewart added that Georgia in particular remains an appealing destination for international companies and it is fast becoming a top pick for those connected to the aerospace industry. “We are number eight among all the states, and 80,000 people here work in aerospace,” he said.
Chris Bohlmann, the general manager for the Midway plant, said the amenities of Tradeport East as well as its proximity to Savannah Technical College also played into the company’s decision to plant roots in Liberty County. “This is an attractive location to build in,” he said.
The college and Georgia’s Quick Start program are expected to play an integral role in training the incoming workforce. “We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with these organizations,” Bohlmann said.