County welcomes employer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 28, 2000

News that Columbus-based Liebert Corp.

Tuesday, March 28, 2000

News that Columbus-based Liebert Corp. plans to turn the former Cabletron Inc. building into its own manufacturing plant this year spread cheer among top county officials Monday.

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"I think we will have 200 jobs that are good, solid, family jobs – jobs that we can count on," Lawrence Economic Development Corporation president Bob Dalton said.

"We’re now able to replace Cabletron with another company that is a blue ribbon company."

Lawrence County Commission president Bruce Trent, who has been worried about the county’s loss of 1,000 jobs within the last year, called the announcement a positive step.

"We certainly are appreciative of the LEDC, the chamber, the governor’s office and I’m sure city officials played a hand in this," Trent said.

"Hopefully, this will spawn and spur opportunities for other employers to locate in Lawrence County," he said.

Community reaction ought to be good – not just because it means jobs, but also because of Liebert’s reputation, Dalton added.

"It’s good to have a company with the standing that Liebert has," he said.

Liebert, created in the late 1940s, expanded into serving the computer industry in the mid-1960s. It has been a division of St. Louis-based Emerson Electric Co. since 1987.

"We’re not talking about a startup company," Dalton said. "It has a real good foundation. It has the wherewithal to complete its plans."

As an architect, Dalton has had experience with Liebert, he said.

"When we’re going to heat or cool a difficult area like a computer room, we always call them," he said.

LEDC officials have known about Liebert’s interest for some time now, Dalton said.

"It’s the company the governor was talking about when he was here," Dalton added. "We were ready to announce that but there were difficulties putting the lease together."

Liebert will lease the former Cabletron plant from the LEDC, which owns the facility.

The company will invest about $4 million in improvements, machinery and equipment but it is contingent upon finalizing the lease, Liebert spokesperson Walt Sharp said.

"That process is onging," Sharp said.

Dalton expects a lease within a week.

"It’s a matter of working out the details now," he said.

Once a lease is signed, Liebert plans to build up 200 jobs at the site within the next three years, said Lisa Patt-McDaniel, manager of the Ohio Department of Development’s Ohio Business Development office.

Liebert’s representatives said they will be advertising or taking steps to fill employee positions within the next three weeks, Mrs. Patt-McDaniel said.

"They are very interested in hiring former Cabletron workers," she said.

Also on Monday, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved an 84 percent tax credit for a five-year term to start up its manufacturing facility, Mrs. Patt-McDaniel said.

The job creation tax credit is a refunadable tax credit against the business corporate franchise or income tax. The credit equals a percentage of the new state income tax withheld on new full-time employees.

Other state incentives – including a $3 million direct loan, a $500,000 grant for machinery and equipment, an estimated $540,000 machinery and equipment tax credit and up to $125,000 in Ohio Industrial Training Program grant funds – are awaiting the approval of several state agencies.

Ohio was in competition with Mexico for the Liebert project, Mrs. Patt-McDaniel said.

Liebert expects their investment in the Ironton facility to total $4 million, she said.

Tax incentive obligations between Cabletron, Ironton and the LEDC are local issues and do not involve the state, Mrs. Patt-McDaniel said.

"They are working those out with Cabletron," she said.

The expected new business and jobs coming to Ironton mean a positive future, Dalton said.

"When you create an atmosphere of expectation in terms of a company moving in, it creates an atmosphere conducive to attracting others," he said.

The LEDC and the community can seize that positive feeling created by a new industry and use it, Dalton said.

"I said our loss of Cabletron was not a black eye for the community," he said. "It had nothing to do with us."