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Industry expands into new location at The Point

SOUTH POINT - More than a year of hard work is on the verge of paying off - to the tune of a new tenant at The Point industrial park that will create a minimum of 50 to 75 jobs in the next 3 years.

Engines Inc. of Milton, W.Va., has agreed to locate in a vacant steel building in the 504-acre South Point industrial park. Company owner Carl Grover signed a 15-year, lease-purchase agreement a few weeks ago and is working on finalizing the financial side of the more than $3 million expansion that may eventually grow to require another building.

"This is just the start of this thing," Grover said of the new Ohio company that will operate as Engines Inc. of Ohio. "It is not something where we are just looking for a bargain and then going to leave in 2 or 3 years. We are committed to this."

"I know Lawrence County needs this, Ohio needs this and we need this. So it is the perfect fit."

Incorporated in 1987, the company manufactures structural steel freight rail car components. Grover, whose company employees approximately 130 currently, said this just scratches the surface of what they hope to do by expanding onto the 10-acre site in southern Ohio.

If all goes well, the company will be manufacturing from the site within the next two months. One of the biggest benefits will be the rail access, something the Milton site does not have.

The 50- to 75-job estimate is all Grover wanted to commit to, half of which should be filled within a year, but he said more may on the horizon.

"We are going to hire as many Ohio residents as we can," he said. "There are some tax incentives there. … We have always tried to be a good neighbor."

Initially, Grover will lease the building but he will have the option to purchase it each year. Plus, Grover said he may also be interested in a second building.

The

Lawrence County Commission gave its blessing Tuesday to the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation's plans to seek state funding to build a second shell building at The Point.

The new 40,000-square-foot building would have capacity for cranes and an 80-foot, free-span area, making it more attractive to heavier industry.

The LEDC wants a $500,000 interest-free loan from the Ohio Department of Development. LEDC executive director Dr. Bill Dingus said he should know in a few months if the request fir state

funding is approved.

The rest of the money for the $1.5-million project would come from private sources. Once funding is established, the actual construction of the building will take 6 to 9 months.

Dingus said The Point is getting attention from entities seeking to expand or relocate and said he thinks its prospects for the future are excellent.

"I think the park is moving along well," Dingus said. "We get, at least once a week, a real serious inquiry coming in. The economy of the nation is coming back, slowly, and as it comes back I think our region will be looked at fairly well."

As far as Grover is concerned, Ohio has a lot going for it.

"I have done my homework on economic development and this has been the best deal," he said. "I have proposals from every state east of the Mississippi. Ohio is really working to be attractive for businesses."