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W.Va. officials say Gestamp plant exceeds expections

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — By all accounts, Gestamp’s South Charleston plant is a smash hit.

The auto parts manufacturer rolled into town in 2012, lured by a refurbished building and a mountain of loans, tax breaks and incentives.

Ignacio Pipio, plant director, said the factory has the equivalent of 400 full-time employees, has invested a total of $102 million to date and is operating four cold-stamping lines and six hot lines.

Pipio said Gestamp is currently launching a new program for Honda and that it plans to add a seventh hot line in early 2016.

Cold-stamping lines form auto-body parts out of a cold sheet of steel using great force. It’s the traditional way parts are made. Hot-stamping involves heating boron steel and then stamping it. The process produces thinner, stronger parts.

“Gestamp has exceeded our expectation in every way,” state Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette said through a spokeswoman. “It continues to grow and establish the South Charleston facility as an innovator and a leader in its field.

“It is also another clear example that when given the opportunity West Virginia can effectively compete for new business, jobs and investments, and West Virginia workers can efficiently produce a world-class product.”

The story that led to Gestamp coming to South Charleston began before anyone in the Kanawha Valley had heard of the Spanish company…

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