SAN ANGELO, Texas – Hirschfeld Industries hopes to work out its “differences” with the city, regarding a lawsuit filed this week pertaining to a wind turbine plant venture.
“Hirschfeld Industries is disappointed that the city of San Angelo and the City of San Angelo Development Corporation have filed a lawsuit against us,” representatives of the company said in an emailed statement Thursday. “We have not yet seen the lawsuit, so we cannot comment on the merits.”
The city filed a lawsuit against Hirschfeld’s affiliated companies, including Martifer-Hirschfeld Energy Systems, over a contract that stems from economic development agreements reaching back to 2009.
Hirschfeld, a long-established local steel company, was left with the project to build and run a manufacturing plant for wind towers after its partner, a Portuguese-based conglomerate called the Martifer Group, pulled out of the endeavor in 2012.
“Our partnership with Martifer to build wind towers failed due to factors outside of Hirschfeld’s control,” the statement read.
Local and state leaders had high hopes for the project, which promised hundreds of jobs and the prospect of putting San Angelo on the map for the budding national wind energy industry. Many invested in the undertaking, including the city and COSADC, who put about $2.3 million into the company.
But the industry tanked in 2010, and the partners started to pull back from the ambitious plan.
“Rather than let the project fail, which would have resulted in permanent job losses and shutdown of the plant, Hirschfeld stepped in and invested millions of dollars more to convert the plant and keep people employed,” the company said in its statement. “The plant now has a stable product line within Hirschfeld’s existing business. This ultimately saved local jobs, helped the local economy and further added to the area’s tax base. Hirschfeld took this course in San Angelo, instead of expanding its facilities elsewhere.”
Hirschfeld said it is one of the largest private employers in Tom Green County and that its payroll is more than $20 million, according to the statement. The company paid nearly $1 million in property taxes last year, it said.
It employed 453 people in May, according to the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce.
Hirschfeld will be represented by local law firm Carter, Boyd, Lisson and Hohensee, P.C.
The city and COSADC will be represented by Dallas firm Cowles and Thompson.
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