By Liz Segrist
Published July 31, 2012
Chicago-based American Titanium Works LLC still plans to build a titanium mini-mill in Laurens County — it just needs to secure more financing first.
The post-recession economic climate leaves the company still in search of more project financing to build the Laurens County facility in the Hunter Industrial Park, ATW President Tom Sax said during a news conference Tuesday at CU-ICAR.
ATW President Tom Sax
“You wind up matching a number of investors together who all want to play together. So you have a certain number of people that have indicated a certain amount of interest, but you have to get them all to match up together,” Sax said, declining to give specifics on the project financing thus far.
SC Launch provided $430,000 to the company during the news conference Tuesday. Combined with the Upstate Carolina Angel Network, or UCAN’s funding, ATW has received $860,000 from Upstate entities and investors since June.
As of 2010, the company sold $4.12 million in securities, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by the company. This is the most recent SEC filing by ATW.
Today’s news conference is the first time ATW spoke publicly about its plans in the Upstate since its 2008 announcement to invest $422 million and employ 320 people at a new facility. ATW then also announced plans for a training and R&D center at CU-ICAR.
The plans now call for 300 employees at the Laurens facility; 50 employees at its R&D center at CU-ICAR; and a roughly $480 million investment, which Sax said can fluctuate based on the markets.
This will be the company’s first manufacturing site. The Chicago team will completely relocate to the Upstate once work begins. ATW recently signed on with Archer Western Contractors of Atlanta to be the project contractor.
ATW’s facility will manufacture and test products made of titanium, which is corrosion-resistant. ATW globally supplies the aerospace, automotive, defense, industrial and heat exchange industries, to name a few.
The aerospace and automotive industries strive to design with lightweight materials and titanium plays a role in that, Sax said, noting that the company could use the Port of Charleston down the road.
Sax cited Airbus’ plans for a new Alabama facility, Boeing’s recently opened North Charleston facility, and the Upstate’s automotive hub as attractions for the Upstate titanium mill.
SCRA Technology Ventures, UCAN and Next held a welcoming reception for ATW executives Monday at the Next Innovation Center in Greenville.
UCAN worked with SC Launch and other local investors to provide bridge financing for the company as it prepares to re-enter the capital markets to secure funding for the plant.
When UCAN dabbles in manufacturing investments, it generally invests in small, light manufacturing. Occasionally investors will see a large project with the potential to make a huge impact on the Upstate, which was the case with first Proterra, and now ATW.
“With the markets being what they are, the company needed short-term financing. As a group of investors, we deal with early-stage deals so this was a natural fit to partner up,” said UCAN Managing Director Matt Dunbar.
SCRA is an applied research corporation with more than 29 years of experience delivering technology solutions with high returns on investment to federal and corporate clients.
SCRA is made up of the Technology Ventures sector, the Applied R&D sector and the R&D Facilities sector.
SC Launch is a private, not-for-profit SCRA affiliate and a key program of SCRA’s Technology Ventures division. It is a collaboration between SCRA and S.C.’s university research foundations. It aims to support the state’s knowledge economy.
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