SPARTA brings jobs to Suffolk

Published 10:46 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Suffolk will get a $13.2-million investment and 198 jobs when a new manufacturing facility announced on Tuesday is fully operational, according to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine.

Kaine announced in a press release Tuesday morning that San Diego-based SPARTA Composite Products would build its third different Virginia facility in Suffolk’s Northgate Commerce Park.

“I am confident that as a division of this successful company, the Suffolk operation will be the right fit for SPARTA Composite Products’ expansion into the East Coast market,” he said. “The project is also a great complement to the commonwealth’s growing and impressive aerospace cluster.”

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The company will manufacture composite parts for the aerospace and defense industry. The Suffolk plant will complement operations in San Diego, where employees make advanced composite products for aircraft engines, aircraft structural products, unmanned aerial vehicle components and missile and munitions products for the U.S. military, according to the press release.

“The city of Suffolk is extremely pleased that SPARTA Composite Products has chosen our community for its most recent expansion,” Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson said in the release. “The selection of Northgate Commerce Park will be beneficial to Suffolk and the entire region. We are delighted that our cooperative efforts in targeting specific industry sectors have been successful.”

Suffolk competed with Georgia, Florida and Iowa for the project, according to the governor’s office.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the city and the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance to secure the project. Kaine approved a $300,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to help the city woo the company. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance also has promised to provide training assistance through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“We explored many possible locations around the country, but the commonwealth of Virginia and specifically the city of Suffolk offered the best overall value to our business case,” said Paul Oppenheim, vice president and general manager of SPARTA Composite Products.

“The most significant factors that won us over to Virginia included having the highest value of incentives, an outstanding quality of living, close proximity to excellent academic institutions with complementary curricula for our industry, a high-technology skilled and disciplined workforce available through the over 18,000 retiring military personnel annually, the fact that Virginia is a right-to-work state and having a strong political delegation that is supportive of continued defense funding….”

The company expects its $13.2-million facility to be operational in December. Hiring is expected to begin by the third quarter of this year. The 198 projected jobs would be created over a five-year period.