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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, December 10, 2015 3:34 am

Plastics handler considering site in Ashley

Sherry Slater | The Journal Gazette

An Ohio manufacturer is inching closer to making a $90 million investment in Steuben County. The project could create up to 136 jobs by 2019. 

But officials caution that it’s not a done deal.

RES Polyflow has developed technology that allows it to convert waste from the plastic manufacturing process into fuel additives that can be sold to the oil refineries that produce gasoline and diesel fuel, said David Koenig, executive director of the Steuben County Economic Development Corp.

The company has identified 77 acres in Ashley for a potential operation off Indiana 4, near the Inter­state 69 interchange. The land is owned by Klink Group, which operates nearby Klink Trucking.

The town of Ashley, which has a population of about 1,000, straddles the Steuben-DeKalb county line. Both counties reported unemployment rates of less than 4 percent in October. The location being considered is on the Steuben side. 

To make the site viable, the town of Ashley would have to invest about $2 million to extend the road and water and sewer service, something town officials are willing to do, Koenig said. 

Steuben County officials already have approved two loans to the company, one for $1 million and one for $500,000. But they aren’t the last of the negotiations that have to be finalized, Koenig said.

"There are other i’s to dot and t’s to cross before this is completed," he said, adding that the Indiana Economic Development Corp. might also offer the employer some incentives.

Michael Dungan, RES Polyflow’s sales and marketing director, said Wednesday that he hasn’t been authorized to speak about the potential investment.

Koenig recapped discussions that have taken place in public meetings. Company officials have requested financial assurances, saying it would make Ashley a more attractive option. They have also been looking at other possible sites for the investment.

"The company has been doing its due diligence over the last several months," he said.

The building size has been estimated at 120,000 square feet. Trucks from several states would haul in plastic production waste. The end product would be shipped out by rail, Koenig said. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has already approved the operation as a manufacturing facility rather than a waste-handling or recycling operation, he added.

Burning is not part of the process, so no emissions are expected from the operation, he said.

The jobs will be management and professional positions with an average salary of $47,000, Koenig said. Duties will include laboratory testing and analysis, he added.

Hiring during the first year is expected to be about 60.

RES Polyflow is based in Akron in northeast Ohio. The company’s website says it makes "energy products from difficult to recycle polymer and rubber waste that is destined for landfills or incineration."

If the Ashley project is approved by company officials, Koenig said, groundbreaking would happen early next year, as soon as weather permits. The operation would ramp up over four to five years.