N.C. company to relocate in Danville, bring 65 new jobs

Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones noted the irony of textiles returning to Danville on Tuesday, given the region’s history with the industry, while announcing a business promising jobs in the eastern part of the city.

BGF Industries — a subsidiary of the French company Porcher Industries — plans to relocate its U.S. headquarters to the Dan River Region from Greensboro, North Carolina. The move is touted to bring 65 new jobs to the area. And the average pay for those positions will be $75,000, Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville, said to multiple rounds of applause from the podium.

“This is a major, major boost for Southside Virginia,” Marshall during the late-morning announcement. “Welcome … and thank you for the investment in our people.”

BGF plans to spend $7 million to complete the move and construct a new 25,000-square-foot headquarters and research and development facility next year at the Cyber Park industrial park, jointly owned by Danville and Pittsylvania County through the Danville-Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority.

Partially paying for the project is a $275,000 grant from the state’s Commonwealth Opportunity Fund and $620,000 from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, according to a news release from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office.

BGF Industries manufactures industrial textiles for myriad uses — from bulletproof vests to surfboards, according to the company’s website. It has been owned by Porcher since 1988 and employs 800 employees.

Porcher CEO André Genton said part of the decision to relocate to Danville was for the talent the area can bring to BGF Industries.

“What is important is the quality of the people we are gaining,” Genton said after the announcement. “We thought here was a good place because we see a lot of connection between different activities, different fields, different technology.”

At the announcement, sharp-suited investors and officials packed the Barkhouser auditorium in the Center for Advanced Learning and Research, chatting amiably. Among them was Brian Ball, Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade, who lauded BGF’s decision to relocate in to the area.

“This is a great day for the Danville and Pittsylvania [County] region,” Ball said from the podium. “We give great thanks to BGF for what it is doing here today.”

Ball also presented Genton with a Virginia flag, which, he said, he hopes will fly over the new headquarters.

“BGF is beginning a new chapter here today, and I am confident that this will be the start of reinvigorating our company,” Barbour said.

After the announcement, Pittsylvania County Director of Economic Development Matt Rowe said BGF initially was interested in building a smaller manufacturing plant. But, after seeing the industry building around Danville, the company decided to move its headquarters there.

“We started to realize potentially there was a larger project,” Rowe said. “Frankly, they just saw the momentum of the area.”

Key decision makers from BGF and Porcher toured Danville and found the amenities sufficient for the higher-earning chemists and PhDs the new facility will draw. People living in the area will be hired for those positions, but some may come from elsewhere.

“They will hire the folks who are already here who have those skillsets,” he said. “They are going to have folks from all around the world.”

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James Whitlow reports for the Danville Register & Bee. Contact him at jwhitlow@registerbee.com or (434) 791-7983.