50 jobs coming to L'burg

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Another new business is anticipated at Lewisburg's Business Park on Mooresville Highway where 50 jobs will become available, city leaders were told Monday when expansion of a business here was announced as creating more jobs.

Those additional jobs were highlighted by City Economic Developer Greg Lowe who identified the employers as Christian Brands' Heartfelt Homes Accents and another manufacturer that's buying new equipment to accommodate growth.

It will be February or March by the time the manufacturer is ready, according to a production manager speaking at a Lewisburg factory on Tuesday morning. Equipment is being built, but for competitive reasons, the businessman sought confidentiality. Lowe has promised a more specific announcement later.

Meanwhile, Christian Brands, the new name for Autom's family of businesses in the Business Park here, "recently acquired" Heartfelt Home Accents, Lowe told the Industrial Development Board during a City Hall meeting on Monday. Paul DiGiovanni is listed as the contact person for Heartfelt Home Accents, a Phoenix, Ariz., business incorporated in July, according to the Internet web site lookupbook.com

Paul DiGiovanni and his brother, Tom, run the church supply company started by their father, Ignatius DiGiovanni, in 1948. Now, Christian Products includes Heartfelt Home Accents, Will & Baumer candle makers and Creed Jewelry, the latter being a manufacturer that's started production this summer after moving here from Massachusetts.

Some 25 jobs are seen as opening at Heartfelt Home Accents by the end of next year, Lowe said Monday. Another 50 jobs are foreseen as that business grows.

Attempts were unsuccessful to reach Christian Brands officials who could speak Tuesday morning.

Tom DiGiovanni anticipated more growth here two years ago when he and his brother, Paul, attended groundbreaking ceremonies for the candle factory. At that time, nearly two years ago, Tom DiGiovanni was asked if there's a chance to move more of the company's operations to Lewisburg.

"You bet," he replied. "We have some room to build here. We moved here because of the opportunity the city had."

Leaders of Christian Brands have been "looking at" a structure the city built on a request from now-former economic developer Terry Wallace, Lowe said. Christian Brands also owns property between its distribution building and the so-called spec building that's been available for sale for several years.

"It looks like Christian Brands are looking to bring more business to Lewisburg," Lowe said.

Establishment of Christian Brands in Lewisburg "was a big deal for the city," IDB Chairman Eddie Wiles said during discussion at his board meeting Monday.

U.S. Tank and Cryogenics is the other business in the business park on the north side of Mooresville Highway and IDB discussion Monday included observations that the city had decided some years ago to maintain control of the park when there were overtures for acquisition of the entire tract of land developed with a road and utilities.

Noting that three councilmen and the mayor were present, Wiles said, "I'm talking with some of the councilmen; the price is negotiable."

It seemed clear the reference was to the property, if not just the spec building.

"Absolutely," Councilman Robin Minor replied to Wiles.

Also during the IDB meeting, Lowe noted a series of other recent developments with local business growth, including jobs at Ace Bayou, and Hawk Converting.

Lowe's report to the IDB is typically similar to what he tells the city council. That elected panel was scheduled to meet Tuesday night.