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Building could be for sale

Intermet Corp.

Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Intermet Corp.’s willingness to sell the Ironton Iron foundry to the right buyer for $1 will ease the jobless burden of its impending closure, state officials said.

"The company has indicated a willingness to sell the plant if a qualified buyer is identified," said T.J. Justice, Gov. Bob Taft’s regional economic development representative.

It’s too early to guess if any company will accept Intermet’s offer, but it increases the financial attractiveness of the plant, Justice said.

And the best-case scenario for Ironton, which has already been struggling with the loss of more than 400 Cabletron jobs, means another industrial employer, he said.

Justice and U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland met with Intermet officials at their Troy, Mich., headquarters Monday to discuss the company’s announced February closure of the foundry, and resulting loss of more than 600 jobs.

Since that announcement, local economic development officials had not received information from Intermet about long-term plans for either sale or re-use of the plant.

But Monday, the company indicated it has entered into some "very preliminary" discussions with potential investors about Ironton Iron, Justice said.

"Their interest is to make sure there is a company or group of investors that could acquire the place and make it profitable and produce a product that is at a competitive cost and of high quality," he said.

Because Intermet was already going to close the plant, it is unlikely that it will maintain any interest in the facility, Justice added.

"The fact that Intermet is willing to put offer on the table like that certainly increases the potential for somebody else to go in there," he said.

But, local economic developers are not relying solely on that plant for solving jobless problems, Justice said.

A meeting of county, state and federal leaders Tuesday shows that the local community is making plans that go beyond Ironton Iron, and that should be praised, he said.

"So, if that site were to sit dormant and there are no takers, then the community is doing a good job marketing other sites in an attempt to create other job opportunities."

Intermet’s offer is preliminary, and much work would be required before decisions are made, Justice said.

"You have a facility, for one, that is somewhat old and appears environmentally clean, but we don’t have good handle on that," he said.

Also, local officials need to know the physical condition of the plant, the reusability of its equipment and the amount of modernization it would need, he added.