Torch Technologies to expand south Huntsville campus, create 150 new jobs

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Torch Technologies will create 150 new jobs for the Tennessee Valley as part of its expansion project.

Torch executives broke ground for its $10 to $12 million construction project along South Memorial Parkway Friday.  They spoke exclusively with WHNT News 19 and about the development on Thursday.

For the nearly 13-year-old employee-owned company, the expansion has been in the works for nearly five years, but it really started to gain traction in the last 18 months.

The project includes renovations of two existing company-owned buildings, only one of which is currently in use, as well as construction of The Freedom Center, a 12,000-square-foot multi-purpose conference center, which will serve as the company's headquarters. The conference center will house a 300 to 400 seat auditorium, which will provide a space for company-wide meetings, as well as customer support.

The work is expected to take about 18 months to complete and ultimately bring in more jobs to a company that already employs more than 300 in Huntsville and nearly 400 nationwide.

"It feels like this is really going to meet all our needs," said Torch Technologies President John Watson. "It gives us the best location we can get in terms of the customer, nice proximity to downtown Huntsville for those folks that are coming from outside of town and doing it for a discount below where we could do it in other areas of town."

Torch Techologies CEO Bill Roark said the updated facility will also attract new employees to the company and improve its image.

"I don't know how you put a number on any of those, but those would all be things that we would view as valuable."

Officials toyed with the idea of moving to an area like Research Park.  But, they chose to stay and expand the south Huntsville location instead.  Roark said the company will receive a nearly $2.1 million incentive package from the city of Huntsville, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the state of Alabama for the project. The hope is the campus will serve as an anchor for the growth and development that is expected in that part of town in the next few years.

"As we sat down with Huntsville City officials and realized we could play an important role for the city there in locating here," said Roark. "We adjusted our plans to stay here and to renovate these buildings."

"This is making a substantial investment into the local community," said Watson.

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