Friday, June 6th, 2008
Building may be sold to manufacturing co.
By William Kincaid
The former Gerlach Machine & Tool building in St. Henry may become home to a manufacturing company from another area, Mercer County Development Director Larry Stelzer says.
Stelzer told Mercer County commissioners on Thursday that two investors from nearby counties are negotiating a sales contract for the building with owner Charlie Gerlach, who ended his business a few years ago.
Stelzer said the proposal - which could bring 31 jobs to the area - has more potential than many others he has seen in quite awhile.
The two investors also are seeking financing from local banks, Stelzer said. If a business agreement is finalized, the county will commit $550,000 from its revolving loan fund to help the investors. If finalized, the investors would pay back their loan during a 7-10 year period at around 4 percent interest, Stelzer said.
The county's revolving fund, established in the early '90s, has provided more than $10 million in loans and helped create 1,100 jobs, Stelzer said.
Although Stelzer would not provide further details about the possible new company, he did say the investors' product is pending a patent.
In other news, Stelzer said around $50,000 has been raised for creation of a Mercer County industrial and agricultural heritage center. Such an institution could be established in the Sycamore Group building (former New Idea in Coldwater), as owner Bruns Building & Development Corp. has offered to lease space for $1 a year, Stelzer said.
Stelzer said the center would showcase items from many of the successful Mercer County businesses that became nationally recognized brands. Rooms could be designated by company, with continually changing displays of photographs, historical records and actual manufactured goods, he said.
"Money is key to this thing - grants are out there; you never know," Stelzer said.
Many key individuals are working on the heritage center, including Coldwater resident Floyd Winner, who Stelzer said is spearheading much of the effort.