Tactical Walls purchases former Genie plant; $1 million investment; 28 new jobs

Page News and Courier

SHENANDOAH ― The former Genie Plant facility that's remained vacant for nearly four years has a new tenant, thanks in part to new incentives to do business in the area.

A year after the county received its Enterprise Zone designation from the state, Tactical Walls is making the move from Elkton to Shenandoah. The manufacturer ― which builds concealment items including mirrors and shelves, as well as lamps and clocks ― closed last month on the 12-acre site on Williams Avenue.

The move marks Page County's first business to take advantage of the area's grant-back incentive program, after it was selected as one of five new enterprise zones in December 2014. Through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development program, localities are able to offer grant-backs of a portion of the increased tax revenue that a county and/or a town receives when businesses and industries make investments in the community.

According to Page County's Economic Development and Tourism Director Stephanie Lillard, the county's newest business is making a $1 million investment in the area, in terms of the costs of acquisition, build-out, equipment and business personal property.

Tactical Walls purchased the former Genie Plant facility for $545,000 from Precision Specialities and Shenandoah Speedway owner Jeff Vaughan. With plans to expand KVK, Vaughan purchased the building on Nov. 1, 2013.

The nearly 50-year-old Genie Co. closed its doors about six months before that in May 2012. Officials at the Ohio-based company also winded down operations at its garage-door manufacturing plant in Alliance, Ohio, around that time, citing increased competition and an economic downturn.

Since launching in 2012, Tactical Walls has “seen a tremendous growth,” said the company's founder Tim Matter said in a Feb. 22 news release.

After relocating to Elkton's ShenElk Plaza in 2013, Tactical Walls expanded twice at the location, from about 2,000 square feet to about 15,000. The move to the former Genie Plant will more than triple its size to 58,000 square feet.
The company also has plans to double its workforce. Tactical Walls, which currently includes 26 employers, is projecting to create 28 needed jobs in Page County within the next year.

At 7.7 percent in December, Page County's unemployment rate is nearly double the statewide seasonally unadjusted rate of 3.9 percent, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Page County tied with the City of Petersburg for the fourth-highest jobless rate in the state in December.

With a 6.2 percent unemployment rate in November, the county was the only one in the region to show an increase in unemployment that month, after posting a 5.5 percent jobless rate in October.

“We will continue to do everything within our power to ensure all doors remain open for Tactical Walls to grow and encounter even more success in their future,” Shenandoah Mayor Clinton Lucas said in a Feb. 22 news release issued by the town.

A year before Genie's closure in 2012, it ranked as the county's 14th-largest employer, according to a report from the Virginia Employment Commission. A total of 92 employees were laid off when operations shut down.

That year, Lucas said the town would face challenges without the revenue that the Genie Co. had generated ― thousands in annual personal property taxes. The town additionally felt a blow in December, when Shenandoah's sole fast food chain, McDonalds, closed after 20 years.

ew revenue generated by Tactical Walls will help the town recoup recent losses, said town officials, though that will take time, since the company will take advantage of tax incentives for the next five years.

During the Page County Board of Supervisors' Feb. 16 meeting, county officials touted the returning industry in Shenandoah, crediting Lillard with securing the business. The company had also been considering a location in West Virginia, said Dist. 1 Supervisor Keith Guzy, but selected Shenandoah based on better incentives offered by the town and county.

“I believe ― I'm very confident, in fact ― that this is just the beginning of some very big things on the horizon for Page County in 2016 and 2017,” said Lillard, adding that she's in the process of working with several other businesses looking to take advantage of the county's incentive program.

Two offers, for instance, were recently made on the former Wallace plant in Luray, said Lillard.

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