Frank Workman, a maintenance technician who started at the plant when it first opened in 2004, said the company's decision shows company executives appreciate the hard work he and his co-workers do.
"It shows you what a great company we've got," Workman said. "Sogefi's been a great company to work for. Out of all the jobs I've had in my lifetime, this is the best company I've ever worked for."
Many overseas automakers, including Toyota and Volkswagen, have shifted more production capacity to the U.S. in recent years to cut shipping and to take advantage of weaker U.S. dollar exchange rates.
In August, Toyota Corp. announced it would invest another $90 million in expanding the company's Buffalo manufacturing plant.
Tomblin said he hopes the new investments will inspire other auto parts companies to do the same.
"We want to keep our people here, we want to keep our kids here," he said. "And the fact that we're creating these jobs here is more of an incentive for our kids to stay in West Virginia, work here and stay close to their families."
Thomas, who grew up in Kanawha County, said he was one of those kids who had to move away to find work.
"I left home at 18 to go to college, and I stayed away for about 15 years (to work in the auto industry)," he said. "Like so many West Virginians, I missed home.
"To come here and work for an international company that's producing very exciting products and growing, it feels good to be a part of it," he said.
Thomas said his desire now is to find others who might have once lived in West Virginia or have connections to the state and show them there is opportunity here. "Those are the people that, over the next five years, I'd like to tell our story to and see if we can't bring some people home," he said.
The company will begin making modifications to its 215,000square-foot production floor in January. New equipment will begin arriving during the spring of 2014.
Hiring for engineers, supervisors, maintenance technicians and other staff will begin in January. Production positions will be added gradually from April through August.
The governor's office said prospective employees can apply by mailing resumes to: Allevard Sogefi USA Inc., 1389 Round Bottom Road, Prichard, WV 25555. Interested applicants can also call the plant at 304781-7700 for more information.
The state Economic Development Authority has already approved a financing plan for some of the equipment.
Last month, the authority approved a resolution to purchase $750,000 in new equipment for the plant.
The authority will obtain a loan from the state Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council to purchase the equipment and then lease it to the company. Monthly lease payments will be arranged so that the equipment purchase will be fully paid for, plus interest, over a five-year period.
The lease system will allow the company to use the equipment but avoid having to pay property taxes on it.
Contact writer Jared Hunt at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.