WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - National Gypsum has announced that it is reopening its plant in Wilmington.
"We expect to have the plant operational by the end of the year," said National Gypsum CEO Tom Nelson in a statement. "Wilmington will allow us to better respond to customer demand as the construction industry continues to build momentum."
The company says it plans to hire 51 associates and will spend $25 million over the next five years to upgrade existing machinery as well as install new equipment.
"It's great to be back in Wilmington again," Nelson said at a news conference at the Wilmington plant, which closed in 2009 during the housing recession. "I can remember standing here 12 years and celebrating when this plant was named on of the 10 best manufacturing plants in North America. We're here to celebrate again."
On April 3, Wilmington City Council unanimously approved an incentive package for National Gypsum, a drywall manufacturing company which closed its Wilmington plant in 2009. The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners also approved an investment incentive to bring the company back to Wilmington.
"There is really no more important incentive to a company seeking to move here or expand than governments that work together, governments that speak with a unified voice," said Woody White, the chairman of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners.
Some residents questioned the company's emissions of formaldehyde, but John King, the company's vice president of business development, said in early April that National Gypsum does not make formaldehyde.
King said a water vapor byproduct of producing drywall contains trace amounts of formaldehyde and that approximately 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of the compound would be emitted annually.
The NC Division of Air Quality issued a permit for National Gypsum's Wilmington site in 2016 and said the company is permitted to emit up to 8.77 tons of formaldehyde per year.
Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo addressed the issue during Tuesday's news conference.
"We appreciate the $25 million investment in our community, and we appreciate the jobs," Saffo said. "But more importantly, we appreciate the way your company handled the questions that we posed to us by a lot of citizens and the concerns that were shared with us and we shared with you."