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Pennsylvania company to close Rural Hall plant

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RURAL HALL, N.C. — A Pennsylvania advanced-components company has notified state officials it will close its Rural Hall plant by mid-April 2016, with the first job cuts from its workforce of 144 starting by Jan. 17.

Richard Allender Jr., the president of Ellwood Closed Die Group, provided just those two dates in a brief Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification filed Dec. 20 with the N.C. Commerce Department.

Allender could not be reached for comment today.

The WARN Act notice typically is required if a company is conducting a mass job cut — defined as more than 50 employees — involving the closing of a plant or operation within a 60-day period.

Ellwood Advanced Components LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ellwood Group of Ellwood City, Pa.

The WARN Act filing comes just more than a year after Ellwood Advanced pledged to create 55 full-time and full-time equivalent jobs as part of a production expansion at 3050 Westinghouse Road.

The company makes components for heavy machinery at the plant. The jobs were projected to pay an annual average wage of $49,029, plus benefits.

The company also said it would retain 145 jobs at a facility that Ellwood took over from Leistritz Advanced Turbine Components in August 2012.

Ellwood Advanced said in December 2012 it would spend $33 million over five years on capital investments.

During the local economic-incentive process, it said it planned to spend at least $15 million on new manufacturing equipment.

It is not clear whether the company added any of the pledged jobs.

It also is not clear whether the plant closing is tied directly to Ellwood Advanced’s inability to work out a deal with Siemens Energy for the 3050 Westinghouse facility.

In August 2012, Allender said the Rural Hall expansion would be contingent on an “either/or” scenario of buying the land and buildings that Leistritz leased from Siemens.

It has a similar operation in Houston.

“Each plant will retain its individual profit and loss responsibility, but be organized externally to its markets as one closed-die solution,” the company said in August 2012.

A search today of the Forsyth County Geodata website lists Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp. as the property owner.

Ellwood Advanced was made eligible for $188,047 in performance-based incentives by the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners in September 2012, as well as a matching $188,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund.

Ed Jones, deputy Forsyth manager, said today that the county has paid no incentives to Ellwood Advanced. Josh Ellis, a state Commerce spokesman, said today the company did not receive any state incentives, and the offer is now considered closed.

The Ellwood subsidiary makes closed-die forged turbine blades for steam and industrial gas turbines. It has three screw presses, a 50 metric-ton counterblow forging hammer and blade-finish machining capability.

The company said it planned to add forge furnaces, trim press capability and heat treatment equipment to enable (the subsidiary) to more effectively produce other types of closed-die forgings beyond turbine blades.