Early Briefing: A Manufacturing Plant Leaves DC


Williams Industries worker William Bland helps a crane operator to lift a steel girder. As steel prices rise and demand slows, Williams is relocating a major manufacturing plant to help trim costs. (Williams Industries)

* Williams Industries, a Manassas construction firm and steel girder manufacturer, plans to move a major manufacturing plant from Prince William County to Richmond as it seeks to cut costs in the face of rising steel prices and slowing demand.

The company hopes to relocate the production operations of its subsidiary Williams Bridge Co. by summer's end, said Marianne V. Pastor, a company vice president. Ultimately, the company hopes to develop or sell the Prince William property. The site is on the corner of Wellington and Bethlehem roads, near the Innovation at Prince William business park, where the county is trying to lure biotech companies.

The Manassas plant fabricated the steel girders that hold up the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and major interchanges near Springfield, but higher steel prices, delayed contracts and low margins on projects have hurt the company in recent years.

* The Federal Emergency Management Agency has decided not to expand the flood zone for downtown Washington and the Mall, sparing the need for stricter insurance requirements and tougher building codes for private and government buildings.

In a brief letter to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) on Monday, FEMA Deputy Administrator and Chief Operating Officer Harvey E. Johnson Jr. said the agency had "rescinded" the new maps that were to take effect in September.

FEMA's letter announcing the decision came after the District filed a lawsuit against the agency Monday in federal court. In the filing, city lawyers called the new flood maps "arbitrary and capricious."

* CapitalSource won approval from U.S. regulators to buy assets from Fremont General, a California bank that was once the fifth-largest U.S. subprime lender.

With the consent of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the transaction has cleared its final hurdle, CapitalSource of Chevy Chase said. Under the deal, set to close next quarter, CapitalSource will acquire Fremont's more than $5 billion in deposits and 22 bank branches.

The collapse of the subprime mortgage market boosted foreclosures and forced Fremont to stop making loans last year.

* Falls Church-based Computer Sciences, manager of networks for NASA and the U.S. Navy, won a seven-year, $1.2 billion contract from Bombardier's transportation unit.

The agreement extends and expands a 2002 contract, Computer Sciences said in a statement. The company will manage the Bombardier unit's desktop computers, service desk and networks.

* DuPont Fabros Technology of the District named Mark L. Wetzel chief financial officer. He starts next month, succeeding Steven G. Osgood.

Wetzel comes from Vornado Realty Trust, where he was a division finance chief. DuPont Fabros, a real estate investment trust, went public last year.

By Dan Beyers  |  June 18, 2008; 8:13 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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