Enterprising in Mt. Sterling

By Dean Shipley

March 12, 2014

A deal, which could bring as many as 90 jobs to the village of Mt. Sterling in the next three years, is near closing, but first needs the state’s input.

A recent meeting with county commissioners, the county prosecutor, the developer, Jerry Alcott, Mt. Sterling and Madison-Plains school district officials saw the signing of an Ohio Enterprise Zone agreement with county commissioners, the village of Mt. Sterling and the developer, Jerry Alcott, president of Mt. Sterling Holdings, LLC (MSH).

In that enterprise zone, will come a corporate expansion of Keihin Thermal Technology (formerly Showa Aluminum). The company plans to build a 100,000-foot expansion of its plant at its location at 10,480 O’Day Harrison Road. That expansion will house a manufacturing process, which will bring 90 jobs to Mt. Sterling over a three-year period; 20 the first year, starting later this year; 20 the second year; 50 the third year by 2017.

“This increase in the number of employees will result in approximately $4,777,064 of additional annual payroll,” the document said.

The Ohio Enterprise Zone Program is an economic development tool administered by local governments to provide tax incentives for businesses to make investments in Ohio.

“Enterprise zones are designated areas of land in which businesses can receive tax incentives in the form of tax exemptions on eligible new investment,” according to the Ohio Development Services.

“Local communities may offer tax incentives for non-retail projects that are establishing or expanding operations in the State of Ohio,” according to the Ohio Development Services Agency. “Real property investments are eligible for tax incentives, as well as personal property investments for those entities that continue to pay personal property tax. Tax incentives are negotiated at the local level, and an enterprise zone agreement must be in place before the project begins. Businesses interested in pursuing these incentives should contact the local Enterprise Zone Manager.”

At Monday’s council meeting, councilwoman Heather Rice thanked village solicitor Mark Pitstick for his work making the agreement happen and for explaining the nuances of the agreement to council.

The project, which will begin construction, once the state incentives are received, is scheduled to start excavation by April 1, or “when the ground dries out,” said Alcott.

He said the construction project is estimated to cost $5 million with Sims Construction as general contractor. According to the enterprise agreement the project will be completed by Oct. 31, 2014.

Two automotive components are made at Keihin: a condenser for the automotive market used in the cooling of car’s interior, and the evaporator which is a component of the HVAC unit, said Scott Mortimer, vice president.

He said the evaporator is shipped to Indiana where it is assembled into the automotive HVAC unit. Mortimer said Keihin is bringing final assembly of the HVAC unit to Mt. Sterling to eliminate transportation costs.

Part of the enterprise zone agreement includes a 75 percent tax exemption for 10 years, provided Keihin complies with its portion of the agreement.

“The county hereby grants corporation (Keihin) a tax exemption for the increase in assessed value of real property…” according to the agreement.

But Keihin will pay “real and tangible personal property taxes as are not exempted under this agreement and are charged against such property and shall file all tax reports and returns as required by law…”

Representing Madison-Plains Local Schools, treasurer and CFO Tim Dettwiller called the news of the enterprise zone creation “exciting.”

“Our enrollment has been in decline,” Dettwiller said. “With the new business coming in, we hope it will help our enrollment.”

The closing of the deal is contingent on state-offered incentives, which Kell said are yet unknown.

“I don’t have that. It’s not be disclosed to me,” Kell said. “We were told it (notification of incentives) would be by the end of the month.” He said the source of the incentives would be from the state’s department of development and Jobs Ohio.

In other business, the commissioners traveled to Big Plain to inspect the proposed alley vacations. They inspected the two alleys which have been proposed by Fairfield Township trustees to be vacated and subsequently attached to the properties which lie adjacent to the platted alleys. The final hearing will be held in 30 days.

Dean Shipley can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 17 or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.