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Archer Creek Foundry likely won't reopen under new owner

The Archer Creek Foundry in Campbell County has a new owner, but no immediate prospects to reopen.

Virginia Casting Industries Inc. bought the foundry in Campbell County and another one in Radford from Lynchburg Foundry Co., part of the bankrupt Intermet Corp., in May. Just a few days later, the state announced that VCI would reopen the Radford plant, investing $9.1 million and hiring up to 300 people. The Governor's Opportunity Fund provided a $600,000 incentive to secure that project.

There was no such good news for the Archer Creek facility; VCI plans to strip out the equipment unless someone else decides to operate the plant soon.

"The Lynchburg site is likely not going to be reopened," said Dan Minor, president of VCI. "We're putting all of the effort into Radford, where we can sell product.

"We haven't been able to convince anyone who used to have their castings made at the Lynchburg site to bring their business back."

The Archer Creek Foundry near Lynchburg and the New River Foundry in Radford made cast iron parts for the automobile industry. They closed in December during Intermet's bankruptcy proceedings.

About 192 people worked at the Archer Creek plant as it closed.

Campbell County's unemployment rate jumped from 6.9 percent in December to 8.3 percent in January. The foundry's closing could have contributed to that increase, but an uptick in unemployment is typical in January when temporary, holiday-season employees stop working.

Campbell County Board of Supervisors Chairman Hugh Rosser said he has not heard much from the foundry's former employees. "I understand that some of them got relatively good jobs related to what they had been doing," and some got jobs paying less, he said.

This year the owners of Michigan-based Cadillac Castings Inc. formed VCI and purchased the Virginia foundries. Minor would not discuss the price. According to Campbell County property records, VCI bought the Archer Creek properties for $574,000.

Minor said the company tried to win back the former customers of each facility. They got enough business for the Radford plant that they could reopen it, hiring 90 to 100 people in the first year.

The Campbell County plant made larger parts such as crankshafts. Most of that business went to suppliers in other countries and is staying there, Minor said.

Unless another company wants to use the Archer Creek facility as a foundry in the near future, VCI will remove all the equipment there. Some of it could be used in Radford, and some could be sold as scrap. The site would still be ideal for manufacturing, Minor said.

"It would be great if someone else had a need for a good industrial site and could use that property to grow some jobs there in Lynchburg," Minor said.

Rosser said it is encouraging that the building was purchased. He thinks that in time, someone would reopen it. "Although it might not be active for a while, ... somebody will make it active," he said.

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