City won’t rely on Intermet’s #036;1 offer

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 23, 1999

Lawrence County’s economic developers will keep Intermet Corp.

Thursday, December 23, 1999

Lawrence County’s economic developers will keep Intermet Corp.’s offer to sell its foundry for $1 uppermost in their minds, but will rely on cooperative efforts of local, state and federal agencies for economic recovery.

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In other words, Intermet has provided only another option to the community, Lawrence Economic Development Corporation executive director Pat Clonch said.

"We don’t want to create any illusions, because it may be something that never comes to pass," Mrs. Clonch said. "And it was not really an offer, just one of the options they put out on the table."

"We’ve got to be realistic and see if indeed it does work that way," she said.

During the wait, local officials will continue marketing three local industrial sites and the Cabletron building; advance efforts to build a riverport; seek more state and federal development dollars; link housing assistance with unemployment; and urge existing industry to expand – all to help southern Ohio recover from Ironton’s loss of 1,000 industrial jobs this year, according to an LEDC "action plan."

The LEDC took that plan to Columbus Tuesday at a meeting of the governor’s office, grant agencies, state job creation officials, and state and federal legislators.

"It was truly a meeting of all the resources that can help Ironton," Mrs. Clonch said.

Next on the agenda will be a state-sponsored town meeting in mid-January where Ohio’s economic leaders will present the job-creation options they can make available.

Intermet also does not want to generate false hopes with its offer, corporate communications manager Mike Kelly said.

"The proverbial $1 was made in the context of a conversation about how Intermet could assist the community during this transition period," Kelly said.

Intermet announced Ironton Iron’s closure Dec. 7, scheduling a shutdown by February.

The $1 proposal hinges on finding a qualified buyer that could demonstrate they could operate the plant and would assume any and all liabilities of the plant in "as-is" condition, Kelly said.

"Ideally we think the plant should be sold as a going concern, meaning while it’s in operational condition as it is today," he said, and added that Intermet will not actively look for a buyer.

"We feel that if a qualified buyer presents himself or herself, this offer would be made," Kelly said.

Workers are not willing to let the foundry fade away, either.

United Steelworkers of America Local 3664 bargaining unit chairman Dave Akers said the union’s state leader has been looking for a foundry buyer since the company’s closure announcement.

He has been able to save jobs through similar takeovers on two other occasions, Akers said.

Also, workers say there are former Intermet customers who would be interested in sitting down and talking with any new company interested in the Ironton facility, Akers said.

Any strategy for economic recovery, or the reuse of the Ironton Iron plant, must involve the cooperative efforts of local, state and federal agencies, Mrs. Clonch said.

Without cooperation and interaction, funding levels required for reversal of the economic catastrophe will not be realized, she said.