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Published: Wednesday, 8/9/2006

After 2 years of talks, work begins at Menards complex

BY MARY-BETH McLAUGHLIN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
The building is expected to be completed by year's end. The building is expected to be completed by year's end.
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HOLIDAY CITY, Ohio - Construction is under way on the first of a multibuilding manufacturing and distribution complex for Menards Inc., a project that could bring as many as 700 jobs to this Williams County village.

The construction is the result of three years of planning and negotiations with the building supply chain based in Eau Claire, Wis., said Holiday City Mayor Sean Rupp.

The first phase of the project will mean 350 jobs. Marv Prochaska, vice president of real estate for Menards, declined to say what the starting pay will be at the complex, but an application filed with the state said the hourly starting wage will be $10.75.

Mr. Rupp said the number of jobs could double within five years if the company has the growth it anticipates.

The jobs would help offset somewhat the estimated 1,700 to 1,800 lost in the county during the time Menards executives have been talking with local officials.

Steel started going up last week on the first of five buildings for manufacturing, expected to be completed by the end of this year, the mayor said. The manufacturing complex is to total 669,000 square feet.

Mr. Prochaska verified Mr. Rupp's information and said Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan were all initially in the running for the complex, which will join ones in Eau Claire and Plano, Ill., as feeder facilities for the chain's stores.

Holiday City is in the extreme northwest corner of Ohio, six miles south of the Michigan border and 13 miles east of the Indiana line. The complex is about a mile from Exit 13 of the Ohio Turnpike.

"We chose Ohio because it has a good railroad system, a good community to work with, a good state to work with, and the land was available," he said. Menards has amassed 640 acres, enough for the current project as well as expansion, Mr. Prochaska said.

Menards needs such a large manufacturing complex because it makes many of the products that are sold in its stores - including the one in the village of Holland - such as concrete landscaping blocks, siding, trusses, and lumber.

In June, 2004, the State Controlling Board approved a $500,000 business development grant for costs associated with water and sanitary sewer improvements for the Menards project and a $980,000 roadwork development grant.

In May of that year, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a Job Creation Tax Credit to begin in 2008.

That agreement was amended and is now a 10-year Job Creation Tax Credit (70 percent for the first six years and 75 percent for the last four years) for the creation of 668 jobs.

Mr. Prochaska said no decisions have been made about when construction of the distribution center will start, and he said applications are expected to be taken late this year or early next year for jobs in the manufacturing buildings.

Contact Mary-Beth McLaughlin at

mmclaughlin@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.



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