Company to bring 166 jobs to CenterPoint site

Published 10:03 pm Thursday, September 25, 2014

A new company has committed to move into the CenterPoint Intermodal Center, promising 166 new jobs and a $17.4-million investment, officials announced Thursday morning.

Friant and Associates, which designs and manufactures customizable high-end office systems, will establish a manufacturing plant at CenterPoint, officials stated in a press release from the office of Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

The company has headquarters in Oakland, Calif., and was founded in 1990.


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“The addition of 166 new jobs in advanced furniture manufacturing will help diversify the industrial base in Suffolk,” the governor stated in the release. “It is another step forward in creating a new Virginia economy with skilled workers of the 21st century.”

Announcing the new company at the City Council retreat on Thursday morning, Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes said the facility will be about 350,000 square feet and located directly behind the Ace Warehouse. Salaries will range from $30,000 to $70,000 for managers, Hughes said.

Construction will start next month, and the facility should be operational by late 2015, he added.

McAuliffe said the easy access to the nearby Port of Virginia from CenterPoint was “a major factor” in the company’s decision.

The port, the city of Suffolk and the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance all worked together with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to woo the company to the city, and McAuliffe approved a $200,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist in securing the project.

The company will also receive benefits from the Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Zone Grant Program, according to the release, and the Virginia Job Investment Program will provide funds and services to help with the company’s employee training.

“Friant and Associates is a wonderful addition to Suffolk’s established and growing manufacturing and distribution sector,” Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson stated in the press release.

“Suffolk’s transportation infrastructure, utility infrastructure and skilled workforce is prepared and ready to support Port of Virginia users like Friant and Associates, today and into the future.”

Company officials were especially pleased about the geographic benefits the new location in Suffolk would bring their business and their customers.

“With a new manufacturing point in Virginia, we can better serve our customers and partners on the East Coast,” Paul Friant, Friant and Associates’ founder and CEO, stated in the release.

“This is an ideal location logistically with great access to the port. We look forward to the opportunities to come as we experience this milestone in our company history with the people of Virginia.”