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Published: 3/17/2010

Pemberville at work to find tenant for ex-factory

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

PEMBERVILLE - With Modine Manufacturing Co. cleaning up at its shuttered factory this month, efforts are well under way to find another manufacturer for the 184,100-square-foot building on 20 acres.

Soon after Modine announced in April, 2008, it would gradually close the factory, Pemberville formed a task force to find a replacement. Modine, which stopped production in October, was Pemberville's largest employer, with annual tax revenues of about $100,000 making up a quarter of the village's general fund.

Pemberville Village Council President Gordon Bowman, chairman of the task force, said the village is working with economic development agencies to help market the property and has established a Web site. Plus, Binswanger, a global commercial real estate firm in Philadelphia, is listing the factory.

"We're trying to get as broad a message as we can that this place is available and Pemberville is a good place to have a factory," Councilman Bowman said.

But Councilman Bowman said the sputtering economy has made it difficult for companies to get credit for expansions. He said a few inquiries had been made to the Ohio Department of Development, but nothing concrete has developed.

"We're just waiting right now," he said. "We're hoping some of these efforts will pay off."

Thomas Blaha, executive director of Wood County Economic Development, said the economy may work in Pemberville's favor. He said manufacturers that otherwise would have built a factory to their specifications may make do with an existing property instead.

He said Pemberville has several attributes that attract employers, including hard-working residents and a well-kept environment. He added that Mr. Bowman has been very proactive about economic development. The lone drawback, he said, is that Pemberville is a few miles from an interstate highway, although that may not be an issue for some companies.

Several years ago, Modine had 300 employees at the Pemberville factory, which built copper-brass radiators and other vehicle heating and air conditioning components. In recent years, employment was around 230 on two shifts.



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