"I'm excited and tickled," Adkins said about her job at Gestamp. "I jumped up and down when I got the call."
Speakers at the ceremony praised Park Corp. Chairman Ray Park for having faith in West Virginia and risking millions of dollars to refurbish the plant even though he didn't have a tenant.
It was Park who convinced Gestamp to take a look at the plant, said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. Park "is a visionary businessman," Tomblin said.
Wes Holden, director of constituent services for U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, read a greeting from Rockefeller, who could not attend. Rockefeller said Park "believes, just as I do, in the people of West Virginia."
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was governor in 2006 when the previous tenant ceased operations at the plant. Manchin got the state to lend Park $15 million dollars.
"The government can spend your money or invest it," Manchin said on Monday. "This was an investment." Manchin said that when he was governor he heard about Park and did his homework and when they finally met, "I said, 'Whatever you want to do, we'll be with you.'
"Whenever we can partner with a company that always pays its bills...those are the types of people you want to partner with," Manchin said. "He said he didn't know about this partnership thing. I said, 'Trust me, it will work.'
"Not only did the taxpayers invest $15 million, he has paid every penny back, with interest," Manchin said. "You can't find a better partner."
U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito said she visited the plant before renovations began and later, during renovations "when the economy got stopped. Ray still had faith in West Virginia, this facility and the auto industry. I join my voice in gratitude to Mr. Park."
Kanawha Commission President Kent Carper said the re-opening of the plant is indeed the result of a public-private partnership.
"The government didn't just get out of the way, the government paved the way to make the impossible possible," he said.
South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens said the plant re-opening "is a prime example of the city, state and county governments working together for a common goal." Ray Park "never gave up," he said.
Park said the South Charleston deal was put together in 21 days. He singled out Rolland Phillips, the West Virginia Development Office's senior manager of business retention and expansion, for special praise. Also, Gestamp's Craig Parsons and South Charleston City Manager Carlton Lee "worked night and day," he said.
"Gestamp at first wanted to buy the equipment and ship it all over the world," Park said. "They said they'd pay me $25 million in two days." Park said he declined to sell the equipment and, eventually, Jeff Wilson, president of Gestamp's operations in North America and Southeast Asia, came to tour the factory.
"He said, 'Ray, we've got to have the plant,'<#148> Park recalled. "I said, 'You've got to lease the equipment here and you'll have the best plant in North America.'<#148>
Park said, "This is my adopted state. I love it."
Monday's ceremony "is all about jobs, jobs, jobs." Park said. "Gestamp is the largest stamper in the world. They come here, lease the place, hire people. What's better than that?"Contact writer George Hohmann at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.