Sparta Composite Products will invest $13.2 million in Suffolk, Va., to expand its ability to produce composite parts for the aerospace and defense industries.
We looked at 32 cities, mostly on the Eastern seaboard. We wanted something geographically closer to our customer base. Through an extensive selection process, we selected Virginia, said Paul Oppenheim, vice president and general manager, in a telephone interview.
The Suffolk operation is meant to complement Sparta's current production facilities in San Diego.
The new facility in Suffolk will open with a skeleton crew by the end of the year and grow gradually, Oppenheim said. Initially, the plant will be 67,000 square feet, but the firm has options to expand it to 154,000 square feet.
Sparta specializes in resin transfer molding, compression molding, hand layup/autoclave curing and bladder molding. It also does assembly.
The firm will create 198 jobs in Suffolk during the next five years, according to a news release from Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, in Richmond, worked with Suffolk and the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance, which pursues new business for the state. Kaine said Sparta will get a $300,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund and the state will provide training assistance through its Department of Business Assistance.
As factors in choosing the location, Oppenheim noted that Virginia is a right-to-work state with a skilled workforce, and has a strong political delegation that supports defense funding.
Sparta has long-term contracts and wants to expand and diversify, according to Oppenheim. He noted that some of Sparta's products are supply-chain critical and that by producing them in two places instead of one, the firm can lower risk in case of natural disasters in a region.
The firm's 72,000-square-foot San Diego site employs 120, making composite parts for aircraft engines and structural products, unmanned aerial vehicles, and missile and munition products.
Sparta Composite is part of Sparta Inc. and its parent, Cobham plc of Wimborne, England.