New business coming to Ironton industrial park

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 14, 2005

Dr. Roger C. Scherer could hardly contain his ear-to-ear smile Monday sitting around the oval table in the Ironton City Center.

Neither could the Ironton Port Authority members and Mayor John Elam as a deal was reached that will make new company, Aluminastic LLC, the second tenant of the South Ironton Industrial Park.

The company will lease a 2-acre plot of land and the unused spec building in the park.

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Aluminastic, a research and development company that has created a new aluminum alloy, plans to ultimately branch into the manufacturing industry with its product. Lots of handshaking, and "thank-yous" were handed out in the meeting that officially announced the company's plans that will create 30 jobs by the end of 2006 and 30 to 50 more within three years when a manufacturing facility opens.

"We are delighted to have the opportunity to bring a startup business to Ironton," said board chairman and businessman Bill Dickens. "We wish you the very best and will do everything we can to support you."

Scherer gave the port authority board, city and county leaders much of the credit for making the deal happen.

"You welcomed us with open arms," said Scherer, a former professor at Shawnee State University. "You have been so supportive and met all our needs instantly."

The five-year lease agreement will give the property to the company rent free as long as the stated number of jobs is created and guaranteed for an additional three years. If the company meets the milestones, the property will then be deeded to Aluminastic. The company is responsible for making all improvements to the building but the city is seeking state grants for the infrastructure needed for the facility.

With salaries ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 per year, Scherer estimated the first year payroll would be approximately $1 million.

The company has also committed to keeping its headquarters in Ironton and look to first within the city if it is going to expand, Dickens said.

Aluminastic, and the deal to come to Ironton, did not happen overnight. In fact, it almost didn't happen at all.

In the works since 1998, the group was looking for a facility for several years but had been unsuccessful as one deal after another fell through, Scherer said. Just when he was becoming discouraged, a friend recommended he go speak to Port Authority member Rob Slagel.

"I thought that there was no way this is going to work," Scherer said. "There are so many roadblocks this will never work."

Initial talks went well and the project gained steam at a breakneck speed. Once the company chiefs saw the vacant building in the industrial park, they knew it was meant to be.

"It was the exact floor plan that we had sought five years ago," he said.

Already looking to give the new tenant some new neighbors, port authority members are optimistic about two other deals.

Two state agencies are considering locating within the industrial park. These projects could create as many 15 new jobs and relocate at least that many more jobs as part of separate projects that could exceed $2 million in development.

The port authority, a city-created entity, is an independent group of five volunteers focusing on economic development projects within Ironton.