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$97M expansion at Toray to add 43 jobs by 2014

$97M expansion at Toray to add 43 jobs by 2014

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Toray Carbon Fibers America Inc. said Friday it will begin a $97 million expansion of its Morgan County plant, adding 43 employees.

The jobs will pay an average of $52,000 a year, not including benefits, Toray officials said.

“This new expansion is almost 100 percent to support the industrial market,” said Terry Patterson, senior vice president at Toray CFA. “That’s primarily gas storage tanks, like hydrogen tanks and the natural-gas tanks that are going into automobiles and buses. That’s one of the new, up-and-coming markets.”

The plant has a larger production capacity than any other carbon fiber plant in the world, Patterson said.

Toray’s largest market is aerospace. The primary structures of the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A-380 are made of Toray carbon fiber. It also produces fiber used in sporting goods, such as golf clubs and tennis racquets, and in windmills.

The three existing lines at Toray CFA mainly serve the aerospace market. The expansion will create a fourth line that serves the industrial market. Construction will begin in May, with production slated to begin in September 2014.

The Decatur Industrial Development Board on Friday approved an abatement of non-educational property taxes for the expansion of $245,000 per year for 10 years. IDB officials expect the expansion to generate school taxes of $285,000 per year for the state, Morgan County, Hartselle and Decatur.

The board also approved an abatement of state sales and use taxes during the construction period of $1.93 million. During the construction period, school systems in Morgan County will receive about $1.27 million in sales and use tax revenue.

“These abatements are critical for us to be able to build the plant here,” Patterson said. “There are other areas and states that offer very good incentive packages, so it’s critical for us to be able to get the abatements so we can expand here.”

The first floor of the five-story expansion will be 100,000 square feet, Patterson said.

After the expansion, Toray CFA and sister company Toray Fluorofibers will employ 320 with an annual payroll of $21.8 million.

Toray CFA’s Alabama 20 facility, located in the Decatur police jurisdiction, broke ground in 1997. Since then, the company has invested more than $500 million in the plant.

“Our neighbors to the east (Huntsville) have had a lot to brag about over the years, and rightfully so, but what’s happening on the riverfront around here the last couple years is very impressive,” said Jack Fite, chairman of the IDB and president of Fite Construction Co.

More than $1 billion in industrial construction is ongoing in Morgan County, including a new Polyplex plant, replacement of the tornado-destroyed Independence Tube plant and expansions at Hexcel, Bunge, Ascend Materials and Daikin-America. In southern Limestone County, Carpenter Technologies is building a $500 million specialty steel plant.

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