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voestalpine has groundbreaking for expansion on same day as ribbon-cutting for phase one

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CARTERSVILLE — It’s not every day a community cuts the ribbon to formally open a new industrial plant while at the same time holding a groundbreaking ceremony for the plant’s expansion.

And, topping even that, officials of voestalpine AG announced Tuesday that the planned expansion of their new automotive component factory just north of Cartersville is already at capacity when it comes to filling orders.

“We are happy and we are very proud to be here,” CEO Wolfgang Eder said.

Dignitaries from Austria and the state of Georgia joined local leaders at the Highland 75 industrial park Tuesday to celebrate the opening and future expansion of voestalpine Auto Body Parts Inc. The manufacturer’s primary clients in the Southeast are BMW, Daimler-Mercedes and Volkswagen.

When fully operational the first two phases of the plant will employ 220 workers. Peters Felsbach, a spokesman for the company, said employment could grow to 350 by the year 2020.

“This community has so much momentum going right now,” Bartow County Sole Commissioner Steve Taylor said. “We are sitting in a sweet spot in the state of Georgia. As far as Northwest Georgia goes, we are where it’s at.”

Eder hinted that the nearly $100 million spent on the Cartersville facility and its expansion could easily double over the long run, based on the business models developed for the company’s 2020 strategy.

He said projections indicate that revenue generated by voestalpine’s North American facilities will rise from 8 percent to 15 percent by 2020.

“This is exactly the type of company that we want to recruit for our community,” Taylor said.

Taylor also noted that voestalpine Auto Body Parts’ apprenticeship program will complement the workforce development programs offered at the new Cartersville-Bartow County Career Academy.

“They are ahead of the rest of the world as far as training their workforce,” he said.

The voestalpine metal forming division plant in the Highland 75 industrial park has been shipping orders since December, but held its ribbon-cutting Tuesday to coincide with the installation of a new high-tech press.

Herbert Eibensteiner, a member of the voestalpine AG management board and head of the metal forming division, said the new hardened-steel ultraform technology provides five times the strength of normal steel in the automotive components manufactured by the company.

He said the strength of the steel allows for lighter components and pre-orders from automakers will have the expansion at capacity before it opens in 2016.

Eibensteiner also said the company might be in a position before the end of the year to know when a second expansion of the operation in Cartersville would be feasible.