SHELBY, N.C. -- North Carolina s new Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker came to Shelby on Friday and announced Cleveland County had landed a German metal casting company, creating 189 jobs over 5 years.

KSM Castings NC Inc., a leading producer of light metal casting products for use in the automotive industry, will invest more than $45 million in its first manufacturing facility in the U.S.

The average annual wage for the jobs is $42,810, plus benefits. Cleveland County s average annual wage is $32,760. The county s unemployment rate in December was 10.6 percent, higher than the state and national averages.

In her remarks to local leaders and officials at Shelby s LeGrand Center, Decker said she and McCrory were committed to growing jobs in North Carolina.

For 15 months, the Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership worked to recruit the company. The partnership includes the N.C. Department of Commerce, Cleveland County, the City of Shelby, Cleveland Community College, Gardner Webb University, Duke Energy and Isothermal Planning and Development Commission.

At the city and the county levels is where the rubber meets the road, said Decker, the former Charlotte Chamber chairwoman who was appointed commerce secretary in January by Gov. Pat McCrory. Here is where partnerships are made. In Raleigh, we should set the stage and then get out of the way.

Founded in 1947, KSM Castings is headquartered in Hildesheim and currently has six production plants in Germany, the Czech Republic and China, with 2,900 employees.

The company produces light metal casting products, including chassis, powertrain and body applications for use in the automotive industry.

KSM CEO Frank Boshoff said the decision to invest in North Carolina is an important step towards the company s strategy to increase its global production footprint.

He said the new plant in Shelby will allow the company to expand its business with existing and new customers in the U.S.

The increasing demands of car manufacturers, in particular the use of resource-efficient products, are creating a rising need for light-alloy castings with a high level of technological quality, Boshoff said.

KSM plans to build an 111,000-square-foot production facility in west Shelby that will be operational in early 2014. Hiring and staffing will begin in late 2013.

According to the Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership, KSM has been awarded a grant of up to $705,000 from the state s One North Carolina Fund. One North Carolina grants require a local match, and the grant is contingent upon approval of local incentives.

On Friday, the state Economic Investment Committee voted to award a Job Development Investment Grant to KSM. These grants are awarded only to new and expanding businesses and industrial projects whose benefits exceed the costs to the state and which would not be undertaken in North Carolina without the grant.

Under the terms of the grant, the company is eligible to receive a grant equal to 65 percent of the state personal income withholding taxes derived from the creation of new jobs for each of the 12 years in which the company meets annual performance targets. If KSM meets the targets called for under the agreement and sustains them for 12 years, the grant could yield as much as $2.86 million in maximum benefits for the company.

Shelby Mayor Stan Anthony called Friday s announcement ...a great day for the citizens of Shelby, Cleveland County, and the entire state of North Carolina.

He spoke in German to the KSM officials, then commented in English: I think I said something like this: Congratulations and welcome to Shelby. I hope you ll be successful and prosperous....

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