LIMA — Throughout the last several years, Lima-area companies have utilized grants or funds through organizations like the Allen County Economic Development Group and JobsOhio to revitalize vacant or abandoned buildings for the betterment of the Greater Lima Region.
As a part of its mission to support business and economic development throughout Allen County, AEDG has dedicated much of its efforts towards redevelopment and revitalization of properties and facilities for the greater good of economic growth, according to Dave Stratton, AEDG Director of Business Development.
JobsOhio is another entity AEDG works closely with to help businesses in Allen County thrive. Through the JobsOhio Revitalization program, the organization helps redevelop underutilized sites in by providing grants and loans to public and private businesses for the purpose of supporting job creation opportunities for Ohioans.
“The program is very core to our mission which deals with job creation and expansion, attraction, retention efforts of jobs and capital investment into the state of Ohio,” said JobsOhio Executive Director of Operations Kristi Clouse. “The revitalization program fits right into the mission, and the benefit is that we are taking underutilized sites and putting them back to use.”
Funding through the revitalization program is available through grants and loans. Grants are typically utilized for heavier cleaning costs like asbestos removal or a remediation of a site, while loans are typically used for renovations.
“Our duty is to help the businesses use the funds to get project done in a way to benefits everyone and end up with a job creation opportunity,” said Clouse.
One of the five businesses in Allen County that have utilized that funds provided by the JobsOhio Revitalization program is deSter, a Belgium-based international food packing manufacturer. The company received a $150,000 revitalization grant. deSter hopes to employ a total of 70 employees at its Lima location, 1200 E Kibby St., by 2019. The company currently occupies approximately 80,000 square feet and looks to acquire 20,000 more of the 500,000 square feet available in the building.
“deSter is a company that was looking for an opportunity to build their business in a location that was looking for that kind of an opportunity,” said Clouse. “It is a foreign investment opportunity for Ohio, and this is an international company that was ready to grow in the U.S. This is a huge benefit to that project and to Lima, who stepped up right along with us.”
deSter Corporate Development Director Johnny Kattar said that he is grateful for the support the grant which has helped speed of the process of becoming fully operational.
“We did not want to pay money on improving an existing building if we were renting it,” said Kattar. “The revitalization grant allowed us to rent an existing building and start fast and not have to worry about renovating it ourselves.”
Another company that utilized the JobsOhio revitalization funds was Recleim, an appliance recycling company. Through the help of a $290,000 revitalization grant, the company was able to open a plant on 1601 E. Fourth St in September 2017. Since opening, they have hired over 100 employees.
“We helped them put a building back in use through those funds for remediation and site prep,” said Clouse. “It’s a growing company and we helped provide an opportunity for them to bring in recycled appliances from the OEM. It’s a green company that had a very competitive project and the city of Lima stepped up right along with JobsOhio to win the project for the city.”
Steve Bush, CEO and co-founder of Recleim, said the company’s mission was to provide Lima with an abundance of jobs, a community that he believes really needed it.
“We wanted to bring jobs to the community, and JobsOhio was the mechanism to help us make that decision,” said Bush.
Recleim decided to revitalize a vacant building due to a need to move an existing refrigeration manufacturing line from Sweden to the United States.
“We needed a place to receive that equipment package with about 60 days to receive the 1st shipment,” said Bush. “We needed to move into a place versus build because of the overall timing of the building.”
Diamond Manufacturing of Bluffton, Lakeview Farms, and Evanston Investments are other companies in Allen County that have taken advantage of the funds provided through the JobsOhio Revitalization Program.
Through the help of JobsOhio, the five Allen County companies have provided the community with 443 jobs with a total capital investment of $33.8 million, according to Matt Englehart, JobsOhio spokesperson.
Companies in Auglaize County have not utilized the JobsOhio Revitalization Program or any grants or funds specific to that area because there is not a significant amount of abandoned or vacant commercial buildings in the area, according to Greg Meyers, Executive Director at Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council.
Although companies in Putnam County are not currently involved with the JobsOhio Revitalization Program, the county has had projects in the past where vacant buildings have been renovated and are currently being occupied by businesses in the area.
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews