Suffolk seen as a ‘good fit’ for Spanish manufacturer
Spanish manufacturer Atarfil began looking for a site in the United States two years ago. In March, the company announced it will spend $5.1 million to establish its first U.S. manufacturing and distribution facility in Suffolk.
The city is a good fit logistically, says Mario G. Girones, the company’s sales and marketing director. “It was the perfect balance of all our needs.”
The project will create 15 jobs.
Founded in 1955 and based in Granada, Spain, Atarfil makes high-performance products such as thermoplastic geomembranes for safe-containment use in the waste, water and mining industries. The company has operations in Mexico, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
“Historically, the U.S. is a market where our products have been welcomed since the beginning,” Girones says.
Before picking Suffolk, the company looked at several locations, including sites in Maryland.
“All of the options were extremely good with a different balance of advantages and disadvantages,” Girones says. “Key factors are related to logistic needs, energy supply, procurement chain and availability of space. The authorities in Suffolk strove from the very beginning to bring the project to this area.”
One of the biggest challenges for Suffolk officials was finding an existing building large enough to accommodate Atarfil’s equipment.
“Their equipment is about 90 feet in length,” says Greg Byrd, assistant director for Suffolk’s economic development department. “Once they decided on Suffolk, the logistics of moving the equipment had to be taken care of. The equipment came in during February, and now they are installing it.”
Atarfil plans to finalize tests at its new manufacturing site “and start production at the end of May,” Girones says.
The company received a $60,000 state grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund as well as a $60,000 grant from the Suffolk Economic Development Investment Program. It also is eligible to receive sales and use tax exemptions on manufacturing equipment and funding from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program to support its training efforts.
“There is a lot of upside to these small manufacturers establishing a beachhead consistent with our advanced manufacturing strategy,” says Rick Weddle, president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance, one of the organizations that helped secure the project.