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EFACEC signs on the dotted line
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As Ken Stewart, director of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and John Henry applaud, Gov. Sonny Perdue, front left, and Dr. Juan Filipe Pereira, chief executive officer of EFACEC Group, shake hands Monday after signing a formal agreement between the state, Effingham County’s Industrial Development Authority and the Portuguese electrical component maker to establish their first U.S. plant in Effingham County. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

ATLANTA — Signed, sealed and entregar.

Gov. Sonny Perdue and Effingham County officials signed a proclamation Monday morning bringing in Portuguese electronics giant EFACEC to the Effingham Industrial Development Authority’s industrial park on Highway 21.

EFACEC officials, led by Chairman of the Board Dr. Luis Filipe Pereira, signed the final memorandum of understanding between their company, the state and the Effingham IDA.

“It feels great,” Effingham IDA Chairman Martin Wilkins said. “I’m glad to see it’s finalized and come to fruition. It’s been a lot of hard work on the parts of a lot of people. This is the just the beginning. We look forward to the future.”

Said IDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry: “We are tremendously excited to have a company of this magnitude choose Effingham County. The representatives of the company have gone out of their way time and time again to be gracious and hospitality. This has been quite a summer for everyone.”

The Effingham IDA signed off on the memorandum of understanding last week to complete a process that began in late spring and continued until the last few weeks.

“This has been quite a summer for everyone,” Henry said.

With all the paperwork out of the way, Henry continued, it’s now time to get to the real work.

“It means we can hit the ground running,” he said. “We can start getting our engineers on the site and get the land clearing started. The work begins now.”

A ground breaking is expected to take place in the next few weeks and construction of the facilities will start by spring.

Effingham will be the first U.S. location for the Porto, Portugal-based EFACEC, which has 3,000 employees in 60 countries. EFACEC officials hope to begin production at the Rincon facility in late 2009 or early 2010.

“Effingham County is a natural choice for this global firm,” Perdue said, noting the county’s proximity to the bustling Savannah port. “They are a powerhouse of innovation and creativity in everything from telecommunications to transportation.”

EFACEC will make electrical transformers at the Rincon site and initially will employ approximately 280 workers. The workforce is expected to top out at 600 within six years of operation.

“These are high-skilled and high-paying positions,” Perdue said, “and I know this company will thrive on the talented workforce they will find in Effingham County.

“The people of the state of Georgia and Effingham County are known for their Southern hospitality and their work ethic and we think that’s a combination no other state can duplicate,” Perdue said.

The company’s investment in its new American home near Rincon is expected to be in excess of $100 million.

“The impact of this on the public will be tremendous,” Henry said, “from the annual salaries to the commercial market. It will hundreds of millions of dollars back to the community.”

The IDA has been holding onto its last large piece at the Effingham Industrial Park at Highways 21 and 275 for a flagship-type operation. EFACEC fills that bill.

“Absolutely,” Henry said. “We knew it was out there. It was just getting the right people in the right place at the right time.”

“I think it’s phenomenal they were able to land this project,” county commission Chairperson Verna Phillips said.

“From what I understand, there was fierce competition. John was working very diligently. It’s a monumental day for Effingham County.”

Effingham was said to be competing with Charleston, S.C., and Bulloch County for the company. Effingham’s package incentives was believed to be dwarfed by Charleston’s offer.

“Six hundred white-collar jobs means a lot to any community,” Phillips said. “I think Effingham County should be proud we put our best foot forward and won out. They recognized the strategic location of Effingham County. John and his team accomplished a lot in getting this project, and we should be proud of their efforts.”

State Rep. Jon Burns said EFACEC will help attract young people to either stay in Effingham or return to it.

“We are blessed geographically, but we are even more blessed by having the quality of people for a quality workforce,” he said.

EFACEC’s plant will be almost directly across Highway 21 from the Effingham campus of Savannah Technical College and the planned Effingham school system’s career academy. The state’s QuickStart program will be involved in getting a labor pool trained in EFACEC’s methods.

“For sophisticated technology, we need qualified people,” Pereira said.

Pereira said his company has been thinking of such a move to the U.S. for years. He estimated 15 percent to 17 percent of their costs are in transportation to the U.S. and they don’t have to convert from the euro to the dollar.

“We have a big market in the U.S.,” he said.

“We have worked over many years to make the community a pro-business community while retaining the small-town charm that exists there and make it a family-friendly community,” Henry said. “We are thrilled we can add some new members to this family.”

The U.S. and Portugal have a bond that goes back to the founding of the American nation. Portugal was the first country to recognize the U.S.’ independence.

“Our two countries have had long and strong ties,” said Ken Stewart, director of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Our economic ties continue to grow stronger.”

“Our goal is to make you even more proud of this decision five years from now than you are today,” Perdue said.

EFACEC Group manufactures power substations. The new facility will make core form, shell form and mobile substations for the U.S. market. The building will be located at the Effingham County Industrial Park near Rincon. EFACEC officials expect to break ground this winter on the plant.

Formed in 1948 in Porto, Portugal, EFACEC employs approximately 3,000 in 60 countries all over the world. EFACEC has more than 150 people exclusively dedicated to research and development, with more than 90 percent of its revenues derived from its own technology. EFACEC has earnings of nearly 500 million euros and exports almost half of its production.

EFACEC’s business activities include Energy Products and Solutions (power transformers, medium voltage equipment, substations, automation, servicing), Transport and Logistics (transport systems, integrated solutions for transport, automated material handling, airport and industrial logistics) and Engineering Solutions and Services. EFACEC’s strategy of an international market focus, investment in new technologies and reliance on traditional strengths has brought the company to the forefront of its industry.

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