Empty factories and warehouses haunt and remind small communities daily of Pennsylvania’s past contributions. Now, a global company hopes to bring back some of that economic vitality to Williamsport.
On Wednesday, Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) approved a $3 million loan for Chance Aluminum Corporation in Williamsport. Chance Aluminum, branch of AA Metals is expected to create 113 new full-time jobs within three years.
At a 2.5% fixed interest rate over a 10-year period, the loan is going toward the company’s $7.5 million expansion at its location on Trenton Avenue.
According to state officials, the company is expanding its production capacity. The loan will provide a secondary revenue stream for equipment and building modifications.
“Partnerships between government and the private sector are vital to driving economic growth in the community,” said State Rep. Jamie Flick. He thanked the Shapiro administration and SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG).
“I am thrilled Chance Aluminum received this loan. It is incredibly important that we support local business expansion,” Flick said.
‘Bring back jobs’
Mayor Derek Slaughter said he is grateful to the state and AA Metals for investments in the city.
“This project is going to bring back jobs,” Slaughter said. “It’s a good thing.”
Investment in metal manufacturing capacity has grown in past years, the company said Headquartered in Florida, AA Metals is one of North America’s largest distributors of aluminum and stainless products. The company purchased the former JW Aluminum plant after it closed January 2021.
All partners involved shared the “same commitment and goal” to bring back manufacturing jobs, according to Ying Jiang, VP of Personnel and Public Relations for AA Metals and Chance Aluminum.
Williamsport Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce, she said, “actively engaged and connected us with state and local resources.” The plant, to be “state-of-the-art,” received “great support from the state and local government.”
Some products for the expansion project will be coming from China by ship, Jiang said.
“This will expand our production capability and the variety of aluminum coils and foils we are going to make locally,” she said.
Officials are optimistic about the company’s first venture in Pennsylvania. Chance Aluminum is “committed to growing the local economy because we are helping to bring manufacturing back,” Jiang said.
Better quality jobs means “a better future for everybody,” Jiang explained.
‘Made in America’
“Made in China” is a phrase known to most of the population. But “Made in America” can not only makes business sense, but is a concept Chance Aluminum believes in, Jiang noted. The U.S. is known for being stronger with metal and steel products, she added.
Jiang said the company is “resourcing globally, producing locally.” Aluminum imports made in China and other countries are subject to U.S. anti-dumping tariffs, she said. The tariffs are levied when a foreign company is selling products below the price it is being produced.
Like countless others, the company experienced supply chain issues during the pandemic. Having their own supplies and ability to produce domestically solves many of those supply chain problems, Jiang explained.
“That eliminates a lot of costs and factors with global shipping and transportation,” Jiang said. “That’s why we feel the strong need to manufacture here.”
Chance Aluminum wants to expand domestic manufacturing in the United States and to diversify as the company grows, Jiang said.