Eastman expanding

Eastman Corporation is expanding into this former Stanley Furniture Inc. plant in the Bowles Industrial Park near Martinsville.

The more than $7.7 million Eastman Chemical plans to spend to expand its manufacturing presence in Henry County will create $67,775 in new annual taxes for the county, Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., said Wednesday.

That's the same amount of tax revenue, he said, that would be generated if 122 homes valued at $100,000 each were to be built.

Several dozen people -- including county, city, education, business and community officials and leaders -- attended an announcement at the Henry County Administration Building that Eastman would add capacity at its facilities at Patriot Centre Industrial Park and expand into the former Stanley Furniture facility in the adjacent Bowles Industrial Park.

This expansion would create more production space at Eastman’s warehouse in the Patriot Centre, which supports an additional facility in the business park as well as Eastman’s production facility in Fieldale. The warehouse functions will move into the building that formerly housed Stanley, which Eastman will lease.

This would allow Eastman to keep up with growing demand within its performance films, paint protection and window film products produced in Henry County and sold under Eastman’s portfolio of brands, the company said.

“With this investment, we are going to add additional production space at both of our manufacturing sites [Fieldale and the Patriot Centre]," Brad Belote, a spokesperson for Eastman, wrote in an email. "We’ll also be relocating our warehousing operations into the former Stanley Furniture facility in the Bowles Industrial Park. The money will go toward the purchase of new production equipment and the relocation work.

“This investment is important because it helps Eastman continue to grow with our customers and creates room for future capacity expansion. Our continued investments further solidify Eastman’s commitment to the window and paint protection films markets and to making our manufacturing site in Henry County a state-of-the-art facility that produces the world’s highest quality films products.”

Henry County Deputy Administrator Dale Wagoner wrote in an email that “Eastman currently owns the facilities in the Patriot Centre Industrial Park. By moving the warehousing operations out of the building, it will free up space for the new manufacturing equipment. It is my understanding that the capital expenditure is for retooling the facility and installing new ‘clean-room' technology for manufacturing of their film products.”

Eastman employs 776 people in Henry County, but this move doesn't mean that number will grow immediately.

“While this expansion will not immediately result in additional positions, we are confident that future job growth is a distinct possibility,” Jim Adams, chair of the board of supervisors, said. “We are thrilled that Eastman is so committed to our community and embedded in our community. This is a gift that will keep on giving to our area.”

Heath said Eastman already has invested more than $50 million in its operations in Henry County, which began in 2012 when the company purchased its facility in Fieldale (a building built in 1956) from Solutia Performance Films and grew in 2014, when it acquired the former Commonwealth Laminating & Coating at Patriot Centre.

Heath said he feels Eastman’s plan to expand its manufacturing presence sends a positive message that Henry County and Martinsville are a good place to do business.

Henry County Administrator Tim Hall, Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarnicki and Rhonda Hodges, vice president, workforce, economic and community development at Patrick Henry Community College, all attended the presentation and praised Eastman for being a good corporate citizen.

, and for its commitment to the area and expressed excitement about the announcement means for this area’s economy.

“It’s a good day,” Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Debra Buchanan said.

Ninth District U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem) issued an email statement after the announcement: “Eastman’s $7.7 million investment is a sign of tremendous confidence in Henry County’s economic environment. Businesses in the county are making products the world needs, and Eastman’s expansion will grow that manufacturing capacity while benefiting workers and related businesses in the area.”

Travis Smith, vice president and general manager of Eastman’s Performance Films business, said in a news release that “this expansion is just another example of Eastman’s commitment to growing with our customers around the world. Our continued investments further solidify Eastman’s commitment to the window and paint protection films markets and to making our manufacturing site in Henry County a state-of-the-art facility that produces the world’s highest quality films products.”

Eastman is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development, as well as local EZ benefits from Henry County.

Henry County also will contribute a $200,000 grant to assist with site development. The Harvest Foundation is providing the grant money to Henry County as part of Harvest’s recently announced incentive pool.

“Opportunities like these are why the foundation’s incentive pool program was created," Allyson Rothrock, president of The Harvest Foundation, said in the news release, “Martinsville-Henry County is fortunate to have a corporate partner that values our community’s assets and works hard to support them. We are excited to see what the future holds for Eastman and Martinsville and Henry-County.”

David Stone, chair of the Harvest Foundation board, said the project is strategically important for the community, and he and Adams presented an oversized check for the $200,000 to Brian Burr, site manager for Martinsville, Eastman.

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CORRECTED: An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly one of the organizations that announced this expansion. It was the Henry County Industrial Development Authority, which meets with the Henry County Board of Supervisors a few times each year.

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