Salem, Virginia – The old General Electric plant in Salem was established in 1955 as a facility for designing, building and supporting power conversion controls, equipment and software for various industries. The plant was one of the largest employers in the area, with more than 2,200 workers on the payroll in 1956. The plant also hosted many executives and supervisors who transferred from other parts of the country.
However, in 2017, GE announced that it would close the Salem plant by the end of 2019, as part of a global restructuring plan to reduce costs and improve efficiency. The closure affected about 265 employees, who were offered severance packages, job placement assistance and retraining opportunities. The closure also left a large vacant building and a lot of uncertainty for the future of the site.
Local and state leaders put a lot of effort and re-launching the building, but despite their efforts, the building has remained closed for few years. Fortunately, the efforts paid off recently when Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin confirmed that one company finally decided to make huge investment and re-launch the building for their own purposes.
Earlier this week, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin finally have more specific details about this case confirming that STS Group AG, a global supplier of vehicle parts, claimed the Old General Electric building in what appears to be $32 million worth of investment, a investment that is expected to create around 120 job positions in upcoming months.
“We’re thrilled,” Mayor of Salem Renee Ferris Turk said. “It’s going to be a great, great accomplishment and moving forward it’s going to be something that the entire Valley will be glad that we have here in Salem.”
For hundreds of Roanoke valley residents, the closure that htook place in 2019 has been though since many were left jobless, while the building has remained non-operational for years. The potential has been clear since it’s worth noting that having the old General Electric plant in Salem restored, would boost the local economy.
“The hurt that happens when something like this closes and goes is tough,” Turk said. “Now there are still some people working in the building but it’s still a hard thing to digest.”
At one point, General Electric had more than 3,000 employees posing serious economy driver in the area. The German group STS is entering the North American market for the first time in the history and they will now use the building to establish the headquarters there. They initially plan to employ around 120 people, but the number of job positions created in the future might increase. This was also confirmed by Tommy Miller, Economic Development Director.
“Nine months we’ve been working on this project,” Miller said. “We’re glad to see it finally come to fruition and supported in its next phase, we should see around 2024 this time next year, full production.”
STS has announced plans to supply Volvo in Pulaski County and other major vehicle manufacturing plants across the country with essential products and components.
According to Turk, the strategic location of their facilities, which are situated close to the interstate, means that transportation and distribution will be seamless and efficient. The growing population of the city and the increasing demand for products and services have created a fertile ground for businesses like STS to thrive and expand. With their sights set firmly on the future, STS is poised to play a key role in driving the economic growth and development of Pulaski County and beyond.