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09-26-06 AAP to expand

By Janie Southard

  ST. MARYS -- AAP St. Marys Corporation has released plans for a $23 million expansion project that will create 20 new jobs.

  City Mayor Greg Freewalt informed council during a Monday night meeting that the aluminum wheel manufacturing company plans a two-phase expansion over three years.

  Phase I will begin in October and includes an approximately 107,000-square-foot building expansion, along with installation of new equipment, AAP officials said this morning via a press release. Investment for phase I is estimated at $5.6 million.

  Phase II, expected to begin in 2007, will include more new equipment at an estimated $18 million cost.

  "This project is designed to not only increase our capacity, but also improve our ability to produce large size, light- weight wheels and special finishes, which are currently in high demand by our customers," AAP Chief Operating Officer Randy Wendel said in the release.  City councilors on Monday approved a 10-year, 75 percent tax abatement on real estate for the expansion. Freewalt said the agreement, negotiated by city administration and Auglaize County commissioners, is "standard."

  "I think we can see again that council is behind industry in St. Marys," Freewalt said.

  The state's original tax abatement program in 1977 was to allow towns and cities facing economic distress, unemployment and job loss to offer tax exemptions to businesses to address costs of locating and doing business in the area.

  The abatements now are used primarily for economic development to help out with expansions and new construction.

  St. Marys Community Development Director Todd Fleagle said this is one of the city's largest abatements in the last 10 years.

  "This is a prime example of a company starting with 60 employees in 1988 and growing over the years to 470 employees, high wages and good benefits." he said.

  AAP began with the capacity of 60,000 wheels per month and has expanded several times over the years. The upcoming expansion will increase capacity to 250,000 wheels per month, the company reports. AAP currently designs, develops and manufactures cast aluminum wheels for Ford, Honda, Subaru and Toyota.


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