On the heels of the July 10 announcement of Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores coming to Lambsburg, it was announced on July 29 that AmeriPumps, LLC would be relocating to Expansion Drive in Hillsville and bringing 125 jobs, an initial capital investment of more than $4.6 million and a corporate aircraft to be based at Twin County Airport.
Hillsville will serve as the Western Hemisphere headquarters for AmeriPumps, which produces portable water pumps used in the construction and mining industries, hurricane recovery and aboard ships and boats. The company is a partner with Sykes Pumps International and Caterpillar. AmeriPumps boasts the only non-Caterpillar made product that is carried in the Caterpillar catalog.
AmeriPumps was enticed to relocate to Carroll County from Chattanooga, Tenn., thanks to $400,000 in incentives from Carroll County, the Town of Hillsville, the Virginia Tobacco Commission and the Governor’s Opportunity Fund. AmeriPumps also qualifies for other Enterprise Zone incentives.
“Today we celebrate as our friends in Chattanooga, Tennessee cry,” said Carroll County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sam Dickson in making the announcement. “We stole this company from Chattanooga. This company, until today, was headquartered in Tennessee. We entered into a friendly, yet aggressive plan to lure them to Virginia. Tennessee is a worthy competitor. They offered an incentives package that included land, a building, tax breaks and the like. We had to work hard. However, a small, rural community in Southwest Virginia is telling you we won the battle.”
Since altering its economic development strategy to pursue enterpreneurship to create opportunities rather than pursue larger industries, the Blue Ridge Crossroads region — which includes Carroll, Grayson and Galax — has welcomed 76 businesses to the area with more than 300 jobs and more than $12 million in capital investment. Dickson said AmeriPumps fits that philosophy.
“As you know, the economic development strategy for the Blue Ridge Crossroads region has been changed to include a major emphasis on entrepreneurship and creating business,” Dickson said. “Rather than depending on the search of big game — please understand, we’re not against big business coming. The small ones that grow we’re very pleased to have these because these are actually the dealings of the county.”
Governor Timothy Kaine applauded AmeriPumps’ decision to come to Carroll County.
“This is tremendous news for Hillsville and Carroll County,” Kaine said in a statement. “AmeriPumps’ decision to open this facility demonstrates that the region, previously affected by economic downturn, is on the rebound. The company will find no shortage of capable employees with a strong work ethic, and I look forward to AmeriPumps’ success in Virginia.”
The company, which is now co-owned by local businessman Donald Branscome, will operate in a facility behind DLB Incorporated’s headquarters. The new building was originally intended as a storage house for DLB, but when the opportunity presented itself, Branscome made the facility available.
Branscome said it took a lot of people to come together to bring AmeriPumps to Carroll County. He thanked them and said he’s hopeful that Carroll’s newest company can do right by the county.
“I want to thank everybody that has helped get this going,” Branscome said. “I want to thank the Town of Hillsville, the Supervisors, the Tobacco Fund, the Governor’s Fund and everybody else that helped make this happen. We’re going to try to do as best we can to be a good corporate partner and work hard.”
AmeriPumps President Doug Zukowski said when the company was considering moving, Carroll County became a clear destination for a number of reasons.
“When we decided to evaluate the central communities as a place to relocate or to keep our company, we looked at states and localities that were fit for what we were trying to accomplish,” Zukowski said. “It became apparent early in the process that Virginia was a state, due to the pro-business philosophy of the state, Hillsville was the town and Carroll was the county due to their demonstrated commitment to making AmeriPumps a part of the community. This location not only met, but exceeded all of our expectations. We were attracted to this region because of the strong skill set and work ethic of the available work force and the can-do attitude of the state and local government.”
Locally, Carroll County gave $100,000 in incentives while Hillsville contributed $50,000. Hillsville Mayor Bill Tate said the town is pleased to be a part of such a promising partnership.
“This is a great day for the Town of Hillsville and its citizens,” Tate said. “You have made a great decision to relocate here. Hillsville is proud to have been able to play a part in this great announcement along with the Carroll County Tobacco Commission and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.”
In addition to the local contributions to the incentives package, two “deal-closer” grants from the state were also presented to AmeriPumps. The Virginia Tobacco Commission gave $100,000 while $150,000 came from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund Grant. Under the terms of these grants, once a company accepts, they can’t use the deals as leverage with other states. They have to come to Virginia.
Del. Bill Carrico said every year, Southwest Virginia’s legislators fight to keep the Governor’s Opportunity Fund endowed for reasons such as this. He said Carroll has cause to celebrate a job well done in a time of economic uncertainty throughout the nation.
“There’s a verse in Galatians that says don’t grow weary in well-doing, for in due season, you’ll reap the harvest,” Carrico said. “I think Carroll County today is seeing that harvest being reaped. You’re seeing 125 opportunities come to the citizens of this county for better opportunities for their families, and we’re seeing it in a time of economic downturn and that’s important.”
The Virginia Employment Commission will be handling the application process for AmeriPumps, which is expected to begin its operations in Carroll County within a few weeks. Dickson said a lot of good will be coming to the county very soon.
“These 125 jobs will come,” Dickson said. “It won’t be a broken promise as we’ve experienced in the past. It’s always nice to hitch your wagon to a winning horse. Today, I think we’ve hitched to an up-and-coming world leader and I’m looking forward to it.”