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Fulton County: 100-job agreement made with 2 firms

WAUSEON - More than 100 jobs will be created in Fulton County by two firms planning to make investments of more than $4.5 million.

Fulton County commissioners recently approved enterprise zone agreements for Style Solutions in Archbold and Advanced EC LLC in Fayette. Under such agreements, a government agrees to give a company tax exemptions on property improvements or personal property tax valuation if the company locates or expands within its boundaries, bringing jobs to the area. Usually, the company will donate a portion of what it would pay in taxes to local schools.

The county has used enterprise zone agreements as an economic development tool for years, but the state has made some changes in the law.

In the past, the county didn't have to consider all taxing units - including municipalities or other governmental entities with authority to levy taxes - when making agreements with companies. Now, state law says all taxing units in the area must be considered for receiving 'donations.' With state cuts in funding to schools, townships, municipalities, and counties, these donations can be critical, officials said.

Fulton County Commissioner Dean Genter has been concerned about making sure all county levy money is treated fairly under the agreements, and said that with the new state law, "I believe that has been addressed."

As of the end of 2003, the county had 49 enterprise zone agreements on the books. Enterprise zone agreement activity for 2004 is being compiled now for a report due by March 31 to the Ohio Department of Development.

In Archbold, Style Solutions will receive a 100 will receive a 100 percent abatement on personal property tax for seven years. During that period, the firm will donate an estimated $92,564 to Archbold Area Schools and $6,647 to Four County Career Center. Style Solutions plans a $2.3 million investment - $300,000 in machinery and equipment and $2 million in inventory.

Style Solutions purchased its largest competitor, Fypon LTD. and considered other locations, including sites in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, before deciding to consolidate its operations in Archbold, officials said.

Sauder Companies of Archbold own the building Style Solutions leases. Sauder Companies and Archbold Container worked cooperatively, he said, to make it possible for Style Solutions to lease additional space, a key to the success of the project, said Dennis Howell, Archbold village administrator.

"Style Solutions agreed to compensate both school systems in such a way that the schools are made whole," Mr. Howell said.

He said it is "new income for Archbold and Four County school systems at a time when all schools are financially strapped."

Style Solutions is to create a minimum of 80 jobs in 2005, but Mr. Howell said the company indicates it could be closer to 100. The new annual payroll will be $1,664,000, he said.

The company manufactures interior and exterior molding for the building industry. Style Solutions has 130 full-time employees now.

In Fayette, the agreement for Advanced EC, LLC, provides 100 percent abatement for 10 years on personal property. The firm plans a $2.3 million investment - $1.5 million in machinery and equipment; $750,000 in inventory, and $50,000 in furniture and fixtures.

The plastics firm will donate an estimated $118,000 to Gorham Fayette Local Schools over the 10-year period. In addition, a $6,589 donation will go to the village and to Four County.

The firm has two employees and plans to add 17 with a new annual payroll estimated at $450,000. Advanced EC is in the former Fayette Tubular Products plant.

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