Company might move to former Ford plant

By Kristin Bednarski
Sun staff

The former Ford plant in Batavia Township is on the verge of having another occupant.

Huhtamaki, an international specialty packaging company, has narrowed down possible locations for a future manufacturing plant.

“Our understanding is we are in competition with two facilities both outside of Ohio that would work equally well for them,” Andy Kuchta, director of Clermont County Office of Community and Economic Development, said.

Kuchta said the company is interested in using a large portion of the former Ford plant as a drinking cup manufacturing warehouse.

“The biggest benefit it is it going to bring 237 jobs back to the county,” Kuchta said. “Great manufacturing jobs that will be available for people who might have been laid off by another company.”

Kuchta said the company would also be conveniently located next to other manufacturing companies in the facility as well as University of Clermont College, which recently announced the expansion of their manufacturing program.

“It’s almost like an incubator for manufacturing companies,” Kuchta said. “It is really interesting to see how it is evolving.”

Kuchta presented information about Huhtamaki and introduced some of the company’s investors during the most recent Batavia Local School District Board of Education meeting Oct. 15.

He also asked members of the board to approve a tax abatement for the first 10 years if the company decides to locate in the district.

“They are applying for a tax abatement for the new investment they would put in the new facility,” Kuchta said.

He said the company is planning $27 million worth of improvements to the facility.

“That includes everything from replacing the roof to the HVAC to interior build-out,” Kuchta said.

Kuchta said all of the improvements would amount to only $3 million additional value added to the building.

“That is why they are applying for the tax abatement,” Kuchta said.

Kuchta said if the company came to Batavia Township, however, the property tax value would increase from approximately $104,000 to $260,000.

Board members passed a resolution supporting a tax abatement for the company during their meeting.

Batavia Township trustees also met with company officials during a special meeting Oct. 16.

“I think it is great, and the trustees feel it is great too,” Administrator Rex Parsons said about the business potentially coming to the township. “This would obviously employ people, which is what this country needs right now. In addition, the added investment is quite significant to the economy of the area.”

Parsons said trustees passed a resolution during the special meeting to also support the tax abatement.

He said the recommendations from the township and Batavia Local School District will be sent to the Board of County Commissioners who make a decision about the tax abatement in the coming weeks.

“We really hope they choose Clermont County, Batavia Township and provide some much needed jobs for our area,” Parsons said.

Kuchta said they began working with Huhtamaki in December of 2011 and he believes the company is nearing the final stages of the selection process.

“I am hopeful a decision will be announced by the end of this year,” Kuchta said.