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June 23, 2017

Sofidel: U.S. Expansion Success with a Utility Partner

Our AEP economic development team just wrapped another successful showing at SelectUSA Investment Summit — the premier event for foreign companies considering sites in the U.S. for relocation or expansion.

According to SelectUSA, participants from the first three Investment Summits — held in 2013, 2015 and 2016 — announced more than $20 billion in greenfield foreign direct investment (FDI) between the fiscal years of 2014 – 2016. One of those greenfield projects was for Sofidel Group, a leading manufacturer of domestic and hygienic tissue paper based in Italy.

During the 2015 SelectUSA Summit, Sofidel, which was seeking a site for their first integrated U.S. manufacturing facility, initiated discussions with Columbus 2020, the regional economic development organization for the 11 counties surrounding the city of Columbus, Ohio.

As a result of those preliminary talks, AEP Ohio became part of a coalition of economic development organizations, utilities, transportation providers, private businesses and community officials that helped Sofidel select Circleville, Ohio, as the location for its new, nearly $300 million paper plant.

Prepping For Success

The 280-acre site selected by Sofidel required major infrastructure work to prepare the site for excavation, including moving an AEP transmission line that ran through the middle of the property.

Relocating the line required a complex and coordinated effort among several departments within AEP, including transmission planning, line engineering, right of way and station engineering, as well as the adjacent property owners and local and state agencies. After many meetings, conference calls, phone calls and hard work, the team moved the transmission line, which allowed excavation of the Sofidel site to begin.

Since work began in 2016, AEP has worked closely with Sofidel’s project team to keep them informed about progress on moving the line and other infrastructure efforts underway on and near the property. AEP has also provided temporary electric power to the site for construction.

As construction continues, Sofidel and AEP are currently installing substation facilities that will connect the manufacturing plant to AEP’s transmission system. The facility is slated to begin operations in 2018 and will employ approximately 300 workers.

Why Site Selection is Better with a Utility Partner

Sofidel’s early engagement with AEP ensured that they had the energy infrastructure in place to meet their needs and keep the construction project on schedule. In addition to energy expertise, partnering with a utility on site selection has numerous benefits:

  • Experienced Economic Development Practitioners – Most major utility companies have economic development teams that are experienced, networked and funded to provide comprehensive site selection services.
  • Community and Site Knowledge –  Utility economic development teams know their markets and can offer customers a depth of history and knowledge that only locals can provide. This know-how can help businesses narrow sites quickly and make the right choice for their company.
  • Inventory of Prepared Sites – Utilities often pre-qualify competitive sites through programs that identify development-ready sites. This reduces the risk and time needed for site due diligence on behalf of customers.

Utilities have a strong vested interest in the long-term success of our communities and our customers. You can read more about the unique benefits utility partners bring to the site selection and preparation process by reading our guide Site Selection with a Utility Partner.

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