Sparta remains committed, VP says

Published 10:13 pm Thursday, June 4, 2009

Despite concerns raised in the wake of a Suffolk employee’s resignation, Cobham Composite Products (formerly Sparta) is still committed to setting up shop in Suffolk, according to a company official.

“The commitment of formerly Sparta, now Cobham Composite Products, to establish a facility in Suffolk remains unchanged,” Cobham Vice President and General Manager Paul Oppenheim said Wednesday. “We are continuing to make progress toward establishing this facility by the end of this year or early next year.”

The company’s arrival in Suffolk was called into question two weeks ago after the abrupt resignation of Economic Development Director Cynthia Cave. In an e-mail last week, Cave wrote to Economic Development Authority members and to the media that part of the reason for her forced resignation was that Deputy City Manager Patrick Roberts “blamed” her for the Sparta deal not being “ready to go.”

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“With all due respect, this is a matter between those two business entities,” Cave wrote, speaking of Sparta and developer ProLogis. “If the Sparta deal falls through, it will not be because of me, but rather due to the economy.”

The company’s impending arrival was heralded by Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine and local officials in a March announcement. The new company, which manufactures aerospace and defense parts for assembly, was expected to create 198 new jobs over a five-year period at its location in Northgate Commerce Park in Suffolk.

Though the company has changed its name, it is still coming to Suffolk and plans to create the same amount of jobs, Oppenheim said.

“There’s a lot of work being done,” Oppenheim said. “It’s just the details of the process which are taking a little longer than we had hoped.”

Oppenheim wouldn’t say if the delay could be attributed to Cave, and also declined comment on Cave’s e-mail.