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Published: Friday, 4/26/2002

Incentives draw new Dana tech center to region

BY MARY-BETH McLAUGHLIN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

An incentive package worth at least $28 million, combined with cooperation among leaders in several communities, means Dana Corp.'s new $24-million technical center will be located in suburban Toledo.

As expected, Dana's center will go on 30 acres of land Toledo owns in Monclova Township. Toledo plans to sell the land near U.S.23/I-475 and Maumee-Western Road for $600,000 to the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, which in turn will lease a completed building to Dana.

The land is to be annexed by Maumee and rezoned for light industrial use from heavy manufacturing use.

“One of the keys to the decision to establish this center in Northwest Ohio is the region's extensive resources - its people, its technical infrastructure, and its educational resources,” said Bill Carroll, president of Dana's automotive systems group.

The site, which was kept a closely guarded secret but which The Blade reported yesterday, was attractive because of a proposed interchange that will give the site easy accessibility to major highways for executives, suppliers, and others coming to and from the site from the Detroit area and southern Ohio, Mr. Carroll said.

Until an interchange is put in at Maumee-Western Road, the Dana site's access to an expressway apparently will be to the north, traveling a mile through the main road of the Briarfield Business Park to Salisbury Road, and then to U.S. 23/I-475.

The development should be a catalyst for an interchange at Maumee-Western, making the site available right off of the expressway, said Mark Zyndorf, chairman of Toledo's Regional Growth Partnership board. But Gov. Bob Taft, who was at the project announcement, made no commitments, saying such road work would compete for state funding with others across Ohio.

Still, cooperation was the tone of the day.

“This is an incredible day,” said Maumee Mayor Tim Wagener. “It's the beginning of a new era and the end of a long, arduous process.”

The mayor said details are being finalized about revenue sharing between his city, Toledo, and Monclova. The township has agreed to rezone a large part of the land surrounding the Dana site to spur similar development.

The Automotive Systems Group Technology Center will include 90,000 square feet of design and development space and 80,000-square-foot for offices and potential future expansion. Construction is to start this summer and Dana hopes to move employees in the following summer.

The facility will house 450 workers, but no hiring is expected. About 275 engineers and others are to be transferred from a Fort Wayne tech center, and the rest are to move from a Dana center in Springfield Township.

“It means a boost to the local economy,” Mr. Zyndorf said. “Each job pays an average of $62,500 per year. This means an additional $17 million in income for the area.”

“These are the kinds of jobs we want in Ohio,” Mr. Taft said at the announcement at the company's Dorr Street headquarters. The state plans to offer a number of incentives, including a jobs tax credit worth $5 million over 10 years.

In an interview afterwards, the governor said such a cooperative effort is needed for Ohio to compete for business development against Michigan and Indiana, where Dana either had operations or considered looking as a home for the center.

Ed Schulte, vice president of development for the growth partnership, said Toledo's largest corporation started talking with him last fall about finding an existing building for the center. That idea was quickly abandoned and he put together a list of possible sites.

The company narrowed it to three, and negotiations started on the Monclova land just three weeks ago, he said.

The $24 million price tag includes the cost of construction and the land, but does not include the equipment the company will install, which will be at least $15 million worth of new machines.

“This is not the biggest package we've put together, but the level of cooperation and the number of [entities] involved is extraordinary,” Mr. Schulte said.

“They're all eating off the same plate.”

Attorney Gary F. Kuns, an 18-year Monclova Township trustee, said the agreement on the Dana project “is smart business for us.

“We don't have the kind of resources that cities like Toledo and Maumee have, so we need to be creative and our cooperative efforts must make sure that things happen as opposed to scaring companies away.”



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