Several local and state dignitaries as well as international businessmen were on hand Wednesday afternoon as Vertex Rail Corporation unveiled 30 new hopper rail cars made at their Wilmington plant.
The Massachusetts-based company, formally known as Vertex Rail Technologies, has occupied the former Terex Cranes plant near the port for over a year. The plan employs about 200 workers, many of whom were hired locally and attended the ceremony.
“This is the result of all your hard work and labor,” said Tom Adams, the chair of the board of directors for the North Carolina State Ports Authority. “This is part of the plan to create jobs in North Carolina.”
Drawing Vertex and its coveted manufacturing jobs to Wilmington took the cooperation of state and local governments. Last November, Vertex announced its plans to invest $60 million in the area at a ceremony attended by Gov. Pat McCrory. On Wednesday, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, New Hanover County Commission Chairwoman Beth Dawson and North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson all thanked and congratulated Vertex on producing both jobs and rail cars locally.
“As a North Carolinian, I want to thank you for all the work you’ve done,” Tennyson said to Vertex employees. “We can all take pride in the fact that these were made in North Carolina.”
The company is expected to hire around a thousand more employees over the next year to reach its promise of bringing 1,300 jobs to the area and to meet its goal of producing 8,000 state-of-the-art hopper and tank rail cars. Before choosing Wilmington, Vertex also considered sites in Colorado, Texas and Michigan.
“We thank you for selecting our county for your manufacturing facility,” said Dawson. “The tens of millions of dollars Vertex is bringing to the county … will help stabilize our economy.”
“This is a great day in the city of Wilmington,” Saffo said during his speech. “Christmas has come early for Wilmington.”
Also on hand were representatives from Vertex’s partner, China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation, the biggest rail manufacturing company in China and one of the world’s largest train builders.
“It is my privilege and honor to attend this delivery ceremony,” said Yu Weiping, vice president for international business for the company, which is owned by the Chinese government.
Yu said he was able to witness the signing of a purchase order for 2,800 more rail cars during his visit to the Port City, assuring him that the future of Vertex’s plant here was strong and viable.
“This is a place where miracles come from,” added Yu, who referenced the history of both the state of North Carolina and the Cape Fear region in his speech. “[After all], Michael Jordan started here.”