By Kristin Bednarski
State, county, and local officials welcomed the recent announcement that Huhtamaki, a specialty packaging manufacturer, has purchased approximately 900,000 square feet of the former Ford plant in Batavia Township Feb. 12.
Attracting the company to Batavia Township was a process that involved collaboration among Huhtamaki, Ohio Governor John Kasich’s Office, Clermont County commissioners, Industrial Realty Group, the University of Cincinnati, Batavia Township and other entities.
“This is a significant investment,” Governor Kasich said about the announcement. “This is a Finnish company. We are beginning to see that more and more, people are looking at our state.”
Kasich said the process of attracting Huhtamaki was long and complicated, but everything came together because all parties involved were able to collaborate and look to the future.
Kasich said Huhtamaki will benefit the community and bring more than 200 jobs to the area.
“The reason I love to go to these announcements is there are going to be 208 families that will be better because Huhtamaki decided to invest here,” Kasich said.
Clay Dunn, president of Huhtamaki Americas, thanked everyone for coming together on the project.
“I think today is the day to celebrate when business and the government come together,” Dunn said.
Dunn said that thanks to Governor Kasich, Ohio has a job-friendly environment.
“We thank you for your assistance, but more importantly your leadership,” Dunn said.
Dunn also thanked Stuart Lichter, president of Industrial Realty Group, the company that has developed the former Ford plant.
Lichter said he and his partner, Christopher Semarjian, with Industrial Commerce Limited, consider the development of the former Ford plant to be a success.
He said the plant, which totals 1.8 million square feet, is almost full, with Global Scrap Management, Engineered Mobile Solutions and now Huhtamaki. He said they still have approximately 600,000 square feet to fill.
“The most likely scenario is it will be a manufacturing company,” Lichter said.
Lichter said University of Cincinnati also played a crucial role in Huhtamaki’s decision because they were willing to accommodate changes that the company requested.
“This could not have happened without their cooperation,” Lichter said.
University of Cincinnati President Dr. Santa Ono said he is excited to have Huhtamaki next to UC East.
“It will create opportunities with UC Clermont,” Ono said.
Ono said he has talked to the company about their need for skilled workers. He said they plan to work together to prepare students for manufacturing jobs and also provide continued education for employees who may be interested in going back to school.
“It’s really an example of how state government, local companies and schools can collaborate,” Ono said.
Dunn said this is the company’s third facility in Ohio, and they have been expanding their services in North America.
“We’re proud of our company’s performance, which has enabled this investment,” Dunn said.
He said they are already beginning construction on the interior of the building and plan to begin production and distribution at the plant later this year.
“We look forward to being a part of Batavia Township and the state of Ohio,” Dunn said.