Mill Street factory announces plan to reopen, anticipates 60 jobs

The dormant Athens Mold & Machine tire mold manufacturing company on Mill Street in Athens will reopen its doors this year, with plans to bring 60 new jobs over the next three years, a press release announced last week.

The decision to reopen after several years of closure is due to a recent re-shoring of tire mold production, the release said.

A $3 million investment project in the company reopening reportedly includes building renovations, machinery upgrades, and a roadway extension that will improve commercial truck access from Stimson Road to the manufacturing park.

Samuel G. Thornton, project manager for Athens Mold & Machine, said in the release that he’s thrilled with the opportunity to restart the business in Athens and bring jobs to the community, which he said will help the local economy and city development.

“I am deeply grateful for the people and entities that gave us funding assistance making it possible,” he said. “It is very fulfilling to be able to make a difference in our community.”

Thornton expressed appreciation toward the Athens County Economic Development Council, the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG), and all others involved for what he called their help and guidance throughout this endeavor.

The company pledges to create 60 living-wage jobs with benefits over a three-year span, the release said.

Sara Marrs-Maxfield, executive director of the Athens County Economic Development Council (also known as Business Remixed) said Friday that operations at Athens Mold & Machine slowed steadily through the early 2000s, and the company ceased operations in 2010, though they continued to employ one full-time maintenance person at the Mill Street location.

“The company expects to begin hiring some support staff soon, and expects operations to begin following significant building renovations that could take nine to 12 months,” she said.

Once the renovations are complete and the company is fully operational, Marrs-Maxfield said, the three-year clock begins on the job creation commitment per an agreement with JobsOhio, the state’s privatized department of development.

Due to its significant economic impact on the community, the project has received financial support from several federal, state and local agencies, she said. In addition to JobsOhio, this includes the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Columbia Gas of Ohio Jobs Growth Fund, AEP Ohio, Ohio University and the city of Athens, the release said.

JobsOhio has committed $400,000 in funding through a revitalization grant for facility and office renovations, the release said, and $300,000 in roadwork funds for a McKinley Avenue extension project connecting with Stimson Avenue in a possible third roundabout in the city.

“The Athens County Economic Development Council is working closely with Athens City Engineer Andy Stone, the Ohio Department of Transportation and AMM on the McKinley Extension plans and timeline,” the release said. “Once completed, the extension will provide a tractor-trailer ready access route to other businesses in the manufacturing park including Jackie O’s Taproom and Stirling Technology.”

County Commissioner Lenny Eliason, who serves as chair of the ACEDC, praised the opportunity to reopen Athens Mold & Machine.

“The reopening of this major manufacturing company within Athens city limits provides great economic opportunity for Athens County,” Eliason said. “These manufacturing jobs will help provide employment diversity and opportunity.”

The Appalachian Regional Commission has set aside $500,000 for the roadwork component of the project, the release said, and Athens City Council adopted an ordinance March 31 authorizing Mayor Steve Patterson to submit an application for this funding.

The ARC funding carries with it a required $250,000 match from the city. Meanwhile, OU is committing funding to roadwork improvements consistent with and identified in its recently completed Comprehensive Master Plan.

Moreover, the ACEDC also submitted an application on behalf of Athens Mold & Machine for a $50,000 economic development grant from the Southern Ohio Agricultural and Community Development Fund for machinery upgrades. The release said that SOACF granted the full amount to AMM, further assisting the company in this project.

The ACEDC is also considering local incentives to offer AMM including a Local Job Creation Tax Credit (JCTC), an Enterprise Zone Property Tax Abatement, and a loan from either the city or county revolving loan fund.

Marrs-Maxfield said Friday that she does not have a current timeline for the approval of possible city or county revolving loan fund monies. Once the city or county receives an application, she said, it could take up to 120 days for final approval and/or disbursement.

From The Athens News  |  May 1, 2016