(SEYMOUR) - Economic development in Seymour received another major boost Monday as city officials approved requests for tax abatements from two companies on investments totaling $37.7 million.
Aubrey Woods, of the Tribune, reports, Valeo Sylvania and O&k American Corp. both received unanimous approval from common council on 10-year tax abatements for new equipment and facility improvements.
Those expansions will bring a combined 190 new jobs to Seymour and allow the companies to support increased demand from customers, especially in the automotive industry.
Jim Plump, executive director of Jackson County Industrial Corp., spoke on behalf of both companies in presenting the requests and provided details of the projects.
Starting with Valeo Sylvania, a manufacturer of automotive lighting products, Plump said he was "pleased" to make the announcement.
"The company is looking at just under $21 million in manufacturing equipment and $8.5 million in real estate improvements that will result in 187 new jobs," he said.
That will bring Valeo's headcount to 985 employees. The company, located in the Freeman Field Industrial Park, is the second largest industrial employer behind Aisin USA Mfg, which announced earlier this month that it, too, would be investing $22 million and creating 114 new jobs.
Valeo's additional jobs will produce more than $11 million in annual salaries, Plump added.
"It's great news for Seymour and the Jackson County area," he said.
In the past, Plump said Valeo "just made headlights" but now is producing and engineering various lighting systems for different automotive makes and models.
The expansion project is expected to get under way May 1 and be completed by the end of the year, Plump said.
Council President Jim Rebber, chair of the industrial development committee, thanked the company for its decision to grow in Seymour.
Valeo Sylvania representative Matt Morley said the company "appreciates the valuable partnership it has with Seymour."
Being a newer company to the area, O&k American doesn't have the history that Valeo Sylvania has in the community, but it is eager to develop a similar partnership, company vice president Chris White said.
O&k announced in 2009 it was expanding to Seymour.
Located in the former Kobelco Metal Powder factory in the Eastside Industrial Park, the company supplies steel coil wire to customers in a variety of industries, including automotive.
Plump said O&k is "looking at significant investment," including $7.6 million in new manufacturing, research and development and logistics equipment and information technology and $2 million in facility improvements.
That investment will allow the company not only to serve as a warehouse and distribution facility, but to begin manufacturing its product, Plump said.
Three new jobs will be added to the company's existing workforce of seven.
The project is also expected to start at the beginning of May and be completed by the end of the year and will include the planned creation of a nature walkway to be used by local schools and organizations as a community education path.
White presented Mayor Craig Luedeman with a piece of the first coil wire produced at the Seymour facility.
"It's an exciting time for us, and we appreciate the support from the community," White said.
In response to Councilman Jim Lucas' remark about taking work away from their headquarters in Chicago, White said it wasn't eliminating work; it was just growing its capacity.
"We are growing, and can really use Seymour to be able to produce more product for our customers," he said.
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