Last updated: August 29. 2013 9:36PM - 1879 Views
By - tjoyce@civitasmedia.com

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When the possibility of 200 new jobs is mentioned in a county that has lost thousands of them in recent years, hope can obscure reality.

That is apparently is the case with a disclosure this week regarding Granite Tactical Vehicles in Mount Airy.

The situation began when Jenny Anderson, security manager for the company, spoke to the Mount Airy Rotary Club and told members that the Humvee armored vehicle offered by Granite Tactical was doing well.

So well, in fact, Anderson said, that the company hoped to be able to add 200 new jobs within the next six months to a year as the company increased production for the federal government.

At a time when even a fraction of that number generates huge interest, especially among the unemployed, news of the 200 jobs spread quickly — with the eager anticipation of such a development seemingly clouding the fact they’re now just a possibility.

“Our phone started ringing off the hook” after the meeting, said Lee Ann Stokes, vice president of existing business services for the Surry County Economic Development Partnership (EDP). That industrial-recruitment entity is often at the forefront of announcements regarding new companies or major expansions by existing ones.

Reports emerging from the Rotary Club meeting indicated that the Humvee armored unit developed by Granite Tactical Vehicles had performed well in tests — with approval given for a new design — and the company was picked as their top potential provider.

The fact that Anderson, “pulled out a number” for the positions created much excitement and apparently caused that casual comment to be treated as a definite development, one source said.

However, the Granite Tactical official confirmed Thursday that the 200 new jobs are just a hope at this point, and indicated regret that her statements at the meeting were misconstrued as something more tangible.

The federal government so far has not provided funding or issued any order for the heavy armored vehicles in question, Anderson said.

“We’re just waiting and hoping,” she added.

Stokes, of the Surry EDP, said she has confidence in the company’s ability to make the hoped-for expansion become reality — based on its track record.

“Throughout our years of working with Granite Tactical Vehicles, we’ve seen them make progress…with government contracting,” she said. “We hope for successful future growth.”

Stokes referred to the fact that supplying products to the federal government can involve a long process, and said the Economic Development Partnership stands ready to assist the company with training and other needs arising.

“We look forward to supporting them with our services when the time is right.”

Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or tjoyce@civitasmedia.com.

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