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Thursday July 7th, 2022 3:10AM

French fiberglass maker hiring 400 in $28M Georgia expansion

By The Associated Press

DUBLIN, Ga. (AP) — A French manufacturer says it will restart the fiberglass furnace at a Georgia plant it purchased in 2019, investing $28 million and hiring 400 new workers.

Saint-Gobain said Wednesday that its ADFORS unit would expand the plant it bought for $17.5 million in the middle Georgia town of Dublin. The plant currently has 47 full-time and 23 temporary employees, Saint-Gobain spokesperson Peter Clark said.

A Latvian company, Valmiera Glass, spent $110 million on the plant in two phases that were finished in 2018, but went bankrupt in 2019 and laid off 350 workers. Saint-Gobain bought the plant during Valmiera's bankruptcy proceeding.

The plant makes mats made from fiberglass that are used for high-temperature insulation and heat protection in products like automotive exhaust systems, fire blankets, fire doors and insulating battery packs in electric vehicles.

Clark said the furnace will make 50,000 tons of glass fiber a year, allowing Saint-Gobain to double North American production of glass fiber.

Workers will make an average of $45,000 a year, plus benefits, Clark said.

Ryan Waldrep, president of the Dublin-Laurens County Development Authority, said the state would pay an estimated $1 million to train workers.

Saint-Gobain could claim various tax breaks, including an income tax credit allowing it to annually deduct $4,000 per job from state income taxes, up to $8 million over five years, as long as workers make at least $30,628 a year. If Saint-Gobain does not earn enough to owe that much in taxes, the state would give it personal income taxes from worker paychecks to make up the rest.

Waldrep said local governments will not abate property taxes and said the state does not anticipate spending any cash to improve infrastructure.

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