Details Emerge on $100M Metals Plant in Columbiana

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – More details are emerging about AMP Corp., the shell subsidiary created by an unnamed global manufacturer looking to build a “state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing facility for high-value metal products” in Fairfield Township.

The global manufacturer is looking to invest some “$100 million to construct and equip approximately 200,000 square feet of manufacturing, warehousing and office space [that] would create approximately 120 well-paying jobs within several years,” AMP said.

The project the company has presented to officials in Columbiana County “would invest in advanced metal melting and processing equipment” at the site.

The bulk of the 120 employees “would be hired from the area,” the company said.

At the meeting of the Columbiana County Port Authority Thursday, its board issued a statement of AMP’s progress to date. The CEO of the port authority, Tracy Drake, provided supplemental information.

Drake called the initiative “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity … for the greenfield site.”

AMP would begin construction later this summer and open the plant, dubbed “Operation Foxtrot,” sometime in 2017.

Before work can begin on the 89-acre site on the northern side of Cherry Fork Road, AMP needs these conditions to be met:

  • That the city of Columbiana annex the land so that it can extend the water, sewer and electrical services essential to operating the plant. A Columbiana attorney, Mark Hutson, presented Columbiana County commissioners a petition last week that would allow the city to annex 183 acres within Fairfield Township. The properties are owned by David and Carrie McMasters, who own McMasters Farms LLC, and Buckeye Transfer Realty.

Hutson did not return a telephone call and Carrie McMasters declined to say anything beyond, “We can’t say anything. We have a confidentiality agreement.”

  • The site, AMP says, must be rezoned for industrial use but the Buckeye Transfer land, which operates at the former NRM Refactories site, is zoned industrial. Fairfield Township Trustee Barry Miner said almost all of the site – 95 acres owned by Buckeye Transfer, the remainder by the McMasters – has been zoned industrial since 1978.
  • The port authority must agree to allow the parent of APM to issue tax-free bonds to finance the project. The board is almost certain to do so at a special meeting before its next regular meeting Aug. 17 or at that meeting, Drake said.

The mechanics of annexation are “complicated,” said Columbiana City Manager Lance Willard. The global manufacturer, which he, too, isn’t at liberty to identify, has presented his city council with a petition for annexation and the Columbiana Planning Commission with “a statement of services [utilities] needed. The manufacturer has also committed to paying for the installation and connection of utilities to the plant it wants to build.

Since the plant, which AMP says would make “products used globally in aerospace, automotive power generation, chemical processing and medical applications” wouldn’t open until 2017, the 10 months or so it would take to plan and install the utility lines and pipes shouldn’t prove a problem.

The 10 months covers the time an engineer provides an estimate, bids are advertised and reviewed, and work is begun and completed. “We will not extend our services [at Columbiana’s expense,” Willard said.

At its semimonthly meeting last night, Fairfield Township trustees publicly discussed the annexation request for the first time. Miner called the AMP project “a work in progress” and sees no reason zoning should hinder the proposed plant.

Once the township and the city reach an agreement, they would present it to county commissioners who would vote to enter it in the county journal.

Drake is enthusiastic about AMP building its plant in Columbiana County, which has become its first choice to build. “They like the workforce. They like the geography. They like the access to markets,” he said.

The parent of AMP was wooed by South Carolina, among others, which offered free land and other inducements, the port authority CEO said, but the global manufacturer has been persuaded by what it’s found in Columbiana.

The AMP statement said, “The company will complete due diligence on the site over the next few months before deciding whether to acquire the property.” Still, local officials are optimistic the annexation will proceed, the utilities extended at the manufacturer’s expense, and that the plant will be built and could easily to expand in three to five years.

Pictured: Proposed plant site, 89 acres on the northern side of Cherry Fork Road in Fairfield Township.

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