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Tech park to seek $3 million

One of the West Virginia Regional Technology Park's goals is to be financially self-sufficient by 2015.

Last month was the second anniversary of the state's ownership of the South Charleston park.

A year ago the state Higher Education Policy Commission, the park's official owner, asked the Legislature for $4 million to help make ends meet. Legislators were considering providing $3 million when, for a short time during the session, the Senate Finance Committee erased all of the money on a motion by Senate Education Chairman Robert Plymale, D-Wayne.

Plymale said he was against the funding as long as there was a rumor that West Virginia University Institute of Technology might relocate its engineering department to the park.

The rumor was said to be unfounded, and when last year's Legislative session ended, the park received $3 million.

Phil Halstead, the park's executive director, said when the Legislature meets next month, it will be asked to provide another $3 million.

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Mitsui & Co. announced it is taking a 30 percent equity position in Gestamp Automocion's operations in North and South America.

Mitsui is a Japanese-based conglomerate with 151 offices in 67 countries. Mitsui has interests in product sales, logistics and financing, and major projects that include metals, motor vehicles and construction machinery.

Gestamp Automocion, also known as GA, manufactures automotive components. It is a privately owned company based in Spain. GA has 15 plants in the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

In April GA pledged to create hundreds of jobs and invest a minimum of $100 million in the South Charleston stamping plant. There was a festive ribbon-cutting ceremony at the 922,000-square-foot plant on MacCorkle Avenue in October. The plant currently has about 100 employees and stamps parts for Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

In a prepared statement, Mitsui said it will contribute to expand the sales and further growth of GA's companies in the Americas "by supporting GA's diversification efforts with Asian automotive manufacturers and the combination of its steel supply network including Steel Technologies Inc...."

Steel Technologies transforms flat-rolled steel into products for a range of industries from auto parts to agriculture equipment to consumer goods. It is a Louisville, Ky.-based joint venture Mitsui and Nucor Corp. Steel Technologies formed in 2010.

Mitsui said it will position the joint venture with GA "as Mitsui's core business in the automotive value chain, mainly for its steel business."

The global automotive industry is recovering from the impact of the 2008 financial crisis. Mitsui said that with the major automotive manufacturers' large-scale investments, the automotive market in the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina "are envisaged to grow in the medium to long term, with total number of automotive production expected to increase to over 20 million in 2016 from 15 million in 2011, with a compound annual growth rate of approximately 6 percent."


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