Gov. Glenn Youngkin in Wise County. Photo courtesy of Earl Neirkirk/Neikirk Image

A metal manufacturing company is expanding in Appomattox and will take over the site of a failed economic development effort that spurred a statewide shake-up of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Friday.

Virginia MetalFab, founded in 2002 in Appomattox, will invest $9 million to expand its operations. That expansion will create 130 jobs, according to the governor’s office.

The site Virginia MetalFab will use is the former Thomasville furniture plant, which closed in 2011. In 2014, then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that a Chinese company known as Lindenburg Industry would locate there and produce catalytic converters, and awarded the company $1.4 million in state incentive funds. The plant never happened and the Chinese company could never be located. An investigation by The Roanoke Times found the state had insufficiently vetted the company. By contrast, North Carolina had and decided not to pursue the firm.

A two-year state police probe found in 2018 that no criminal charges were warranted. However, a report by the state’s watchdog agency issued a report that found VEDP “has not followed fundamental practices for effective economic development marketing” and since its founding in 1995 “awarded grants without a formal due diligence process to protect the state from fraud and financial loss.” That report called Lindenburg an “illegitimate company.” In response, the state reorganized the VEDP and instituted new procedures. The Lindenburg case continued to surface in McAuliffe’s bid for a second term in 2021.

“Today is a celebration of economic resurgence and revitalization for the Town of Appomattox, and we thank Virginia MetalFab for creating high-quality, well-paid jobs and giving new life to this property,” Youngkin said in a statement. He was in Appomattox on Friday for the announcement.

Virginia MetalFab was founded in 2002 to provide the equine industry with manufactured and customized products. The business then diversified to provide its fabrication and manufacturing services to companies in a wide range of industries. Today, Virginia MetalFab manufactures metal parts and assemblies for a wide range of customers in energy, utilities, transportation, and technology.

“Residing here in Central Virginia has helped propel our growth in part due to the central location of the North Carolina Triad, Washington, D.C., and Virginia’s own Eastern Shore,” said Virginia MetalFab General Manager Brian Morris in a statement. “As we looked to expand significantly, we determined this area provided the best opportunity for growth to continue to serve these high-growth areas. Additionally, for our future growth we wanted to strategically be between the I-81 and I-95 corridors for simplified logistics both to the northeast and southeast.”