Recycling center creates 200 jobs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 24, 2011

By Karissa Minn
BADIN — Electronic Recyclers International (ERI) announced Monday that it will open a regional recycling hub at Alcoa’s former aluminum smelting plant in Badin, providing up to 200 jobs.
“We are so humbled and honored to be a new member of the town of Badin and a new citizen in the great state of North Carolina,” said John Shegerian, chairman and CEO of ERI, in a telephone interview.
Shegerian made the announcement before a crowd of 100 community leaders, company representative and state and local officials in Badin.
He said the company will begin operations in a temporary facility in July before moving into a 165,000-square-foot building in January 2012.
ERI already has named a plant manager for the site and plans to hire about 20 to 30 employees this summer. It said it will grow its workforce to more than 150 employees by the end of 2012 and eventually plans to hire up to 200 employees as its recycling volume grows.
ERI said it will work closely with Stanly Community College and the North Carolina Employment Security Commission to recruit employees and plans to hold a local job fair in the next six to eight weeks.
Badin Mayor James Harrison said the company’s decision is welcome news for the town.
“This announcement is what we have been praying for ever since the shuttering of the Alcoa Inc. smelting operation,” Harrison said in the press release. “I hope that ERI’s selection of Badin is a sign of the good things starting to take place for the Badin community and Stanly County.”
Stanly County Commissioner Josh Morton said the company’s move will help the county’s economic development efforts.
“This company will put people in our community to work, and ERI’s presence in Badin and Stanly County will spur new economic activity,” Morton said in the press release.
ERI will be the first tenant in the Badin Business Park, located at the site of the former Badin Works plant. Alcoa has been actively recruiting businesses to the site, said representative Mike Belwood.
“This is great news for Badin and great news for Badin Business Park, which is a property we plan to redevelop,” Belwood said.
Before selecting the Badin site earlier this month, ERI considered locations in Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina for its Southeast recycling center.
Shegerian said he had never heard of Badin before Kevin Anton, Alcoa’s chief sustainability officer, called him in December.
“It wasn’t even on my radar, he said. “He asked if we had signed a deal for the Southeast hub yet… and he said, ‘Did you consider Badin, North Carolina?’ ”
Shegerian said he decided to visit the town, where he found a facility with the high ceilings, truck access and room to grow that ERI needs.
“The fact that we get to recycle this building and give it new life is just perfect,” he said.
Alcoa is spending $5 million on building improvements and renovations, he said, matching ERI’s $5 million investment.
Shegerian said not only fell in love with the property at Badin but also its people, including the community leaders and elected officials who made him feel welcome.
“Kevin Anton and Alcoa brought us to North Carolina, but it was the local people… who made us feel at home and made us want to stay,” Shegerian said.
ERI recycles electronic waste, including laptop computers, cell phones, televisions, printers and other electronics. Its customers include Best Buy, Samsung, the Salvation Army and the U.S. government.
Shegerian said the company breaks down whole products into plastic, glass and metal — including aluminum — and sells the commo-dities directly to smelters. The process is environmentally friendly, he said, and it minimizes landfill waste and creates no emissions.
Alcoa is currently working to attract other employers to the Badin Business Park, Belwood said, which has another 535,000-square-feet of industrial space and 50 acres available for development.
When the Badin Works aluminum smelting plant closed in 2002, at least 300 jobs were lost. Anton has said Alcoa’s goal is to more than replace those jobs in the next three to five years.
U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, who represents the region, said he is glad to see jobs coming back to Badin.
“Each job created at this facility will help to provide certainty for an area family,” Kissell said in the ERI press release. “ERI’s interest in expanding here is a testament to our hard working people.”