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Published: Tuesday, 9/16/2008

Lucas County commissioners OK loan to help re-open Maumee plant

BY ALEX M. PARKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Lucas County commissioners will consider the proposal tomorrow morning that would lead to the plant s reopening. Lucas County commissioners will consider the proposal tomorrow morning that would lead to the plant s reopening.
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The Lucas County Commissioners on Tuesday morning approved — by a vote of two to one - a $1.5 million loan to Maumee Authority Stamping Inc., to help it re-open Ford Motor Co.’s closed stamping plant.

Commissioners Ben Konop and Pete Gerken voted in favor of the proposal, while Tina Skeldon Wozniak, the president of the commissioners, cast the lone no vote.

The loan would be repaid at the end of the year, and would earn 7 percent interest.

The commissioners voted, again two to one, to table a motion from Mr. Konop to use the $105,000 earned from the interest on the loan to provide fellowships with high tech industries in Lucas County.

Mr. Gerken and Ms. Wozniak voted in favor of tabling the motion, claiming they needed more time to study the proposal.

Article appeared in earlier editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

Konop supports $1.5M loan for stamping plant

Skeldon Wozniak says she s unsure on amount


Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop said he s ready to support a $1.5 million loan of taxpayer money to help Maumee Authority Stamping Inc. reopen Ford s shuttered stamping plant.

Last week, Mr. Konop questioned whether the investment was in the taxpayers best interest, but said yesterday that Maumee Authority Stamping agreed to terms which he could support.

We re not living in normal times, Mr. Konop said during a news conference yesterday. The local economy is probably as bad as it s been in most people s lifetime.

If there was ever a time for us to think outside the box, to use innovative ideas to put people to work, it s now.

'We re notliving in normal times.   If there was ever a time for us to think outside the box, to use innovative ideas to put people to work, it s now,  Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop says of the proposal. 'We re notliving in normal times. If there was ever a time for us to think outside the box, to use innovative ideas to put people to work, it s now, Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop says of the proposal.
THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY Enlarge | Buy This Photo

As collateral, Maumee Authority Stamping has agreed to give the county first rights to its inventory and to its accounts receivable money owed to the company once the plant is up and running.

Mr. Konop said that agreement was crucial in earning his support.

Mr. Konop also said he hoped to use the loan s proposed 7 percent interest rate to create high-tech fellowships with local technology and alternative energy companies for local residents.

The commissioners will discuss the issue during their meeting at 9:30 this morning.

Maumee Authority Stamping, led by Chief Executive Officer Keith Obey, has sought to reopen the shuttered Ford Stamping Plant in Maumee using private investors as well as employee investors, who have paid $16,000 to work at the plant and have a share in its ownership.

Mr. Obey has asked the county for a $1.5 million loan to help him raise $3 million in operating cash he said Mau-mee Authority Stamping needs to close a deal with a private investor who will buy the plant and its equipment.

The investor then would lease the property to Maumee Authority Stamping.

Mr. Obey said local investors, whom he wouldn t name, have raised $1.5 million toward the operating capital. Maumee Authority Stamping also has raised about $900,000 from employee investors, but that money cannot be used until the completion of a lengthy approval process with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Under terms of the loan, the money raised by employee investors would be placed in an escrow account to back up the county s loan. The county s loan would not be executed until the escrow account reaches $1.5 million.

County officials acknowledge there is a possibility the employee investors could withdraw their money from the escrow account after the loan is executed, leaving the county s money potentially vulnerable.

The loan would be executed sometime before the Oct. 15 closing date of the deal, and would be repaid by Dec. 31, according to county officials.

It was not clear yesterday how much the loan s 7 percent interest rate would earn for the county.

Mr. Obey said he believed the loan would have an annual interest rate calculated for the loan s two-month length yielding about $26,000 for the county while Matt Sapara, the executive director of the Lucas County Improvement Corp., said it would be a simple interest rate for the life of the loan, yielding about $105,000 for the county.

The proposal was discussed during last week s meeting, but Commissioner Pete Gerken delayed a vote on the matter when it appeared that Mr. Konop and Tina Skeldon Wozniak, the president of the commissioners, would vote against it.

Yesterday, Ms. Wozniak said she still believed a $1.5 million loan would be a risky venture, but she might support a smaller loan.

Mr. Gerken, a former auto worker, has long been a supporter of the project.

I m pleased Commissioner Konop finally got on board. Some of us have worked on this project for nine months, and it s rewarding for me to know he got the message, he said yesterday.

Contact Alex M. Parker at: aparker@theblade.comor 419-724-6107.



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