Novazymes buys again; expansions create jobs

There have been some recent mini-rumblings of growth in the Blue Ridge Region, perhaps signaling a productive spring for business and industry.Foremost among those expansions is the third acquisition in less than a year by Novozymes Biologicals, based in Salem and owned by a Denmark biotech company.

Most recently, Novozymes announced the purchase of Semco Bioscience of Milwaukee, a company that supplies natural microorganisms used in cleaning products and in treating municipal and industrial wastes.

Novazymes of Copenhaven purchased Sybron Biochemicals of Salem in 2001. Sybron was a successful producer of microbes. It was re-named and has since bought two more companies. The company has 120 employees in the Roanoke Valley and officials say an addition of about 15 this year is probable.

Meanwhile, Bassett Furniture Industries near Martinsville, will move production from Dublin, Georgia to Bassett, adding about 50 jobs. The Dublin plant's closing will affect 300 employees. The Dublin plant made wood bedroom furniture.

AFG Industries, a manufacturer of flat glass, plans to move into a 150,000-square-foot facility in Abingdon, investing $30 million and creating 80 jobs. The company will reap $120,000 from the Governor's Opportunity Fund and $350,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds. It will also be eligible for tax credits because it is locating in an Enterprise Zone.

Elizabeth Arden's distribution center in Roanoke plans a 34,000-square-foot expansion to its 265,000-square-foot center. The new space will consolidate the warehouse operations. The employment level of 191 is not expected to be effected.

ITT Night Vision in Roanoke has won a $14.5 million contract from the U.S. army for helmet mount assemblies used with night vision goggles and the monocular night vision device it manufactures. The three-year contract could be worth as much as $27 million eventually.

In other activity in Virginia:

Chesapeake Hardwood plans to invest $4 million and expand its manufacturing facility, creating 50 jobs.

STIHL Inc. plans to expand its Virginia Beach operations, investing $60 million and creating 200 jobs.

Gray Hawk Systems Inc. will invest $8.7 million and expand its operations throughout Virginia, creating more than 200 jobs in several areas.

In economic development initiatives:

Gov. Mark Warner has announced the approval of $2.6 million in financial assistance for Virginia businesses by the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority. The additional money will open up $19.4 million in financing from other sources and is expected to help create 273 jobs in the state.

Downtown Roanoke has been recognized by Southern Business & Development Magazine as one of the best downtowns in the South. The magazine is read by those looking for places to establish their businesses.

The recognition reads, in part, that Roanoke has "the right balance. It is a great place to visit and a great place to live. Long a hub for commerce, business and entertainment, the 65-block area is well on its way to becoming a 24-hour downtown where you'll find something to do anytime."

600450 Novazymes buys again; expansions create jobs

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