Representatives from China-based Shanghai GORO visited Phelps County this past week, with properties in Rolla and St. James in their crosshairs.
Shanghai GORO Conveyor Belt Fasteners Co., Ltd., is a conveyor belt joint manufacturer which is a joint investment between GORO France and Shanghai Fastener General Company.
The operation could bring as many as 50 jobs to the area. Bristol, Tenn., St. James and now Rolla are among the prospective cities in the running for the new facility.
On Thursday and Friday, company officials met with Rolla Mayor Bill Jenks III and Cyndra Lorey, executive director of the Rolla Regional Economic Council (RREC), Rolla City Administrator John Butz told The Rolla Daily News Friday.
Company representatives have visited the area a few times over the past several months, and as Butz explained, Shanghai GORO is considering whether it should build a new facility or use an existing building.
Butz said last time company officials were in the area, they were more interested in a new building or property in the St. James area, but he said the company representatives may have re-evaluated and could be considering using an existing space.
One possible existing building the company is looking at is the old Cantex building on Industrial Park Drive off Old St. James Road.
In addition to the Cantex building, Butz said the company has also looked during past visits at vacant property in the Hy Point Industrial Park and by the Rolla Recycling Center near McCutchen Drive.
“When a prospect like this comes through, they gather info, look at sites, and follow back up,” Butz said. “Their idea for a building may get smaller or bigger. It’s a pretty typical process. They’re still very interested in St. James. I think they are just weighing the options.”
“We’d be thrilled to have them,” Butz said if the company chooses either St. James or Rolla.
St. James Mayor Dennis Wilson said, “Nothing has really changed at this point, but we (St. James) are still very much in the running. Whether he will make a decision at this point, we just don't know.”
Wilson and other St. James city officials, including St. James City Administrator Jeff Davis, recently visited China to meet with representatives of Shanghai GORO.
While St. James, Rolla and Bristol, Tenn., are being considered, other cities were mentioned in preliminary discussions, but information as to whether said cities were still options was not available at the time of this report.
Wilson also said everyone involved is ready and willing to welcome Shanghai GORO if they decide to move their operation to St. James.
“Our Industrial Development Authority Board is on board with working with these folks and doing what they need to do to get the facility here,” Wilson said.
Page 2 of 2 - In a previous interview, Wilson said Shanghai GORO does a great deal of its business with the mining industry, which benefits St. James due to its location.
GORO France, according to its website, is the second largest manufacturer of conveyor belt fasteners in the world.