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Southern Ohio plant getting new life, uses

– New owners of the site of closed cabinetry factory are planning on bringing new businesses and jobs to the southern Ohio county with the state’s highest unemployment rate.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that officials in Pike County are enthused about the new uses for a 57-acre plant that closed nearly two years ago and took some 1,200 jobs. At its peak, it had employed 3,000 people.

Pike’s unemployment rate in November was 11.9 percent.

Two real estate development partners with experience with finding new uses for such sites bought the former Mill’s Pride plant last month for $5 million from Masco Corp.

The partners are Christopher Semarjian, who runs Industrial Commerce Ltd., near Cleveland, and Stuart Lichter, who heads Industrial Realty Group, near Los Angeles. They were joined in this project by Everett Hannah, owner of Gilco International Lumber in Varney, W.Va.

The company exports lumber to furniture and flooring manufacturers, and there are plans to start up a lumber operation at the Waverly plant in about six weeks. It initially would employ up to 28 workers. Gilco also is in talks with a Chinese furniture maker about using the Waverly plant.

Lichter said that he couldn’t predict how many companies would lease or buy space at the large industrial property or how many jobs could be coming.