Region Recruits Companies From a Variety of Industries
The Southern Virginia region is pushing past its legacy of tobacco production and textile manufacturing to recruit a diversified group of companies.
“When the city of Danville was a mill and tobacco-processing town, we had two industries, and those got wiped out, and we got wiped out,” says Linwood Wright, a former Danville mayor who serves as a consultant to the city’s office of economic development. “Today we only have one tobacco processing plant, Japan Tobacco Inc., and it is state-of-the-art.”
Danville scored two huge economic development projects last year with Essel Propack’s expansion and PRA Group Inc.’s decision to establish a call center. The two announcements alone amounted to $46.2 million in capital investment and 545 new jobs.
The city had worked with PRA on the call center deal for some time. The Norfolk-based debt recovery company is investing $15.1 million in the call center and expects to create 500 jobs. Danville competed with several states for the project.
PRA bought an Airside Industrial Park building that had housed a Telvista call center. About 300 people lost their jobs when Telvista closed the call center in March. “PRA will pay their employees close to twice what Telvista was paying their employees,” Wright says.
Essel Propack, an India-based specialty packaging company, plans to spend $31.2 million in expanding its Danville manufacturing operations. The project will allow the company to double production at the Danville facility.
The city competed with Brazil and Argentina for the expansion project, which is expected to create 45 additional jobs. Essel Propack has more than 2,850 employees worldwide, including 252 in Danville, its only U.S. manufacturing operation.