State approves tax credits for Ohio Star Forge plans

CHAMPION – Ohio officials this week granted $107,483 in job creation tax credits to Ohio Star Forge, which is considering a nearly $20 million expansion project at its Mahoning Avenue facility.

The tax credits are offered by the Ohio Development Services Agency and JobsOhio and include a $30,000 work force training grant.

The company plans to invest $19.8 million at its Champion plant and would create at least 26 jobs at a payroll of $1.4 million in the first three years of operation. The company also would retain 95 jobs.

Sarah Boyarko, Regional Chamber vice president of economic development, business retention and expansion, who attended the tax credit authority hearing in Columbus this week, said the tax credit helped bring the project one step closer to reality.

Last month, Trumbull County commissioners and Champion Township trustees also approved a 60 percent, 10-year property tax abatement.

“Throughout this project, we have been in stiff competition with an international location, so this could result in a big win for Champion Township. These kinds of projects don’t happen overnight or with the assistance of one single group, it is a combined effort of our local and state economic development partners,” Boyarko said.

The Champion site has been in competition with a site in Japan for the expansion, according to state officials.

Trustee Chairman Jeff Hovanic on Tuesday praised the company’s role in the community.

”They have been a good neighbor to the community, and they have been a good employer to the community,” Hovanic said.

He noted that while the abatement will mean a property tax break to the manufacturer, it will mean improvements and partial taxes on previously unused land.

”You are talking about a piece of property that is sitting vacant,” Hovanic said. ”So now they are going to build a building estimated at $2.5 to $3 million, so the real estate taxes will increase on that raw ground. Everybody benefits from that improvement.”

Ohio Star Forge is an independent subsidiary of Daido Steel, a specialty steel conglomerate, with operations in the United States and Japan.

William Orbach, president of Ohio Star Forge, told Trustees last month that the project will not be finalized until energy rates are negotiated and the tax abatement approved. He said after that the plans will be given for approval by the board of Delaware-based Daido Steel Ltd. Once the go-ahead is given, the improvements could start immediately with completion expected in the fall.

If approved, company officials have said the majority of the new jobs will be skilled positions with an additional need for maintenance and other positions.

The local Ohio Star Forge facility produces more than 14,000 metric tons of forgings for the automotive and fastener industries. Ohio Star Forge, which operates on part of the property that formerly was Copperweld Steel, has grown in the last 12 years, increasing its output to customers by an average of 97 percent annually.

blinert@tribtoday.com