Thursday, November 9th, 2006
By Margie Wuebker
Safeway will spend $10 million in Bremen
  NEW BREMEN - Safeway Packaging, landlocked at its current Minster location, plans to relocate to the Bunker Hill Industrial Park in New Bremen representing a $10.6 million investment.
Kevin Manor, president of the corrugated packaging manufacturing company, announced Wednesday afternoon plans to build a 260,000-square-foot plant on a 15-acre tract at the northeast corner of the White Mountain Drive and Streine Drive intersection.
The plans also include options for two additions each measuring 50,000 square feet, if needed in the future. Additionally, the company has options to purchase additional land. The 97-member workforce is expected to grow by 25 within three years.
The proposed move is contingent on village, school and county officials approving an enterprise zone agreement and a 90 percent abatement on personal and real property taxes for a period of 10 years. The company, which stands to realize a net savings of $756,944 over the course of the abatement, plans to make donations totaling $291,317 to New Bremen Local Schools through annual payments of approximately $29,000. The amount is equivalent to the tax revenue the district would have received without the abatement in place.
Within hours of the announcement, the enterprise zone and abatement passed its first hurdle with unanimous approval by the New Bremen board of education.
"It's good for the community," school Treasurer Deb Meyer said. "It's good for us, and it's good for them (Safeway)."
New Bremen Village Council will take up the matter at its regularly scheduled Nov. 14 meeting with the Auglaize County Commissioners scheduled to do the same thing Nov. 16.
Mayor Jeff Pape expects no problem with approval at the village level since the industrial park located along state Route 274 at the west edge of the village was created to attract business and industry.
"The best thing about this is that it involves a ready-made business with more than 100 employees and the promise for more," he said. "The hardest part is knowing about the possibility for so long and not being able to talk about it."
Manor reportedly inquired about available land in March. Negotiations continued throughout much of the spring and summer with the company submitting an application for an enterprise zone and related abatements in September. The Ohio Department of Development subsequently approved the proposal clearing the way for local action.
"We need to grow into a larger facility," Manor told The Daily Standard. "One of the things we have tried to do with this project is to make sure we do not get landlocked again."
Manor's father, Robert, started the company in 1984 in Sidney and moved the operation to Minster two years later. The business now occupies 70,000 square feet located in the Minster Industrial Park off First Street. In addition, Safeway leases 100,000 square feet of warehouse space in Sidney.
Attempts to purchase adjacent land from a Minster-area farmer proved unsuccessful so Manor went looking for land. There were two options - New Bremen and Grand Rapids, Mich., where Safeway built a sister plant in 2001.
"We have a long history of doing business here in Auglaize County," Manor said. "We have a dedicated and loyal workforce here and we are in close proximity to customers throughout the Midwest."
Manor plans to use the same general contractor that oversaw the Michigan project as well as a host of subcontractors from throughout the area. He expects the new building to be ready for occupancy by next fall. Plans call for the existing building in Minster to be sold once the move is complete.
- Reporter William Kincaid contributed to this story.
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