Vertex announces 1,300 jobs for Wilmington

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During a press conference at the old Terex Corporation facility on Raleigh Street Thursday, Nov. 13, Governor Pat McCrory and Vertex Rail Technologies LLC CEO Donald Croteau announced Vertex would spend $55 million-$60 million establishing a rail car production facility in the space.

Croteau said the company would spend the next 10 months refitting and renovating the building that has remained unoccupied since Terex closed in 2011. The new factory is expected to need around 1,342 employees and Croteau said around 1,200 of those would be hired from the greater Wilmington area.

In addition, Croteau said the company has set a mandate for at least 10 percent of those hired to come from the Hometown Hires organization, which was co-founded in 2014 by District Attorney Ben David and Live Oak Bank CEO Chip Mahan.

During the press conference David said the organization is designed to connect people with jobs.

“I conceived the concept of Hometown Hires out of frustration after seeing so much wasted potential every day at the courthouse,” David said. “We must empower people to help themselves and the aim of this effort is to connect job-ready employees with businesses in our community.”

With crude oil production increasing in states like North Dakota and Texas, and other rail car container manufacturers backlogged for two years with demand, Croteau said the time was right for Vertex to tap into that market.

“Companies who are already pulling oil from the ground are doing it at such a high rate now that they need these cars and that is why there is such a large backlog at the other companies,” Croteau said. “In the last six to eight weeks we have quoted $7 billion worth of these cars and we haven’t built one yet.”

In the first year of production Croteau said the facility would produce around 1,400 container cars and by the second year it would begin producing around 4,500 cars. The next three to four months will consist of readying the site and then it will take around  two months to complete the first of two different types of container cars.

N.C. Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata said the North Carolina Department of Transportation is investing significant funds to improve accessibility to Vertex’s factory.

“We are contributing $200,000 to rebuilding and improving the rail spur to this facility. … $305,000 from economic development funds for the restoration of the River Road crossings and signals … and $100,000 in contingency funds toward restoring Raleigh Street,” Tata said.

In response to the need oil-producing states have for container cars, McCrory said he hoped North Carolina would join the oil industry soon as well.

“This is what makes our economy go because we are making things, building things and this company is innovative,” McCrory said. “There is no better news than when you can recycle a building that used to be filled with workers and now it is going to be filled with workers again. That is just great news for North Carolina and for Wilmington.”

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