MIDDLEPORT — Questions arose as to the value of investing in an outdated plant in southeastern Ohio after Nidec Corp. of Japan acquired Akron-based Imperial Electric Co. in 2012.
The Middleport facility needed state-of-the-art equipment and improvements to play a key role in the expanding elevator industry.
After careful consideration of factors such as the plant’s central location, its highly trained workforce, and support from government, business and community leaders, Nidec made the decision to keep the facility open.
Meigs County JobsOhio, a private nonprofit designed to drive job creation and new capital investment, and AEP Ohio, a unit of American Electric Power, were among the organizations instrumental in convincing Imperial Electric to make the needed investment with their commitment of grants for $200,000 and $50,000, respectively.
Nidec officials say their $3.2 million Middleport investment reflects Nidec’s commitment to establishing their reputation as a global leader in the production of elevator systems.
Pradeep Sood, president of Nidec Corp.’s elevator and drive systems business platform, stated the company was happy with the investment.
“We’re already seeing benefits of our strategy to modernize the Middleport facility, taking advantage of its central location and highly skilled workforce,” he said . “Thanks to the timely Nidec investments and the support we received from JobsOhio and AEP Ohio, we’re well on our way to offering a broader range of elevator products to our customers and growing with them in this important North American elevator market.”
Mostly local contractors and services were used in the expansion project that led to the creation of 18 new jobs at the factory. A new product line of elevator hoist-way equipment and sling platforms also will be produced at the plant, and officials are confidant this will have a major economic impact in Meigs County.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was conducted Tuesday to “celebrate the expansion of the plant and the future economic opportunities that it brings to the region,” according to Nidec officials.
U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson attended Tuesday’s ceremony and said, “Today’s announcement illustrates that Nidec knows what we all know — that workers in southeastern Ohio measure up against workers anywhere in the world when given the chance.”
Johnson went on to say, “This news of the major investment in the facility, the vote of confidence in the existing, well-trained employees, and the added jobs are great news for Middleport and the region’s economy. Local and state leaders stepped up to make the case for the Imperial Electric workforce, and Nidec won’t regret their investment in Meigs County.”
Meigs County Commission President Tim Ihle grew up in the area, but moved away for a time and said he knows personally what Imperial Electric means to the residents of the county.
“After moving back to Meigs County from Colorado in 1969, my dad found employment at Imperial Electric and worked there for many years,” he said. “Even today, my neighbor works at the plant. Now, after all these years, the fact that Imperial Electric is still here and expanding for the future is great news to our local economy and our workforce. The Board of Meigs County Commissioners would like to express our appreciation to Nidec Corp. for their commitment to this facility and Meigs County.”
“Nidec Corp.’s investment in facility upgrades and state of the art equipment will help make Imperial Electric’s Meigs County plant a more competitive operation and provide more jobs for Ohioans,” said Glenn Richardson, JobsOhio managing director for advanced manufacturing.
He said the commitment will strengthen Nidec’s overall presence in Ohio, where it currently operates 12 facilities.
John Molinaro, president and CEO of the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth, cited the JobsOhio-APEG partnership with Imperial Electric as an example of working together to create jobs and grow the economy.
“Imperial Electric is an important employer in the region and Ohio, and their demonstration of confidence to reinvest and expand their Meigs County facility will have a major impact on the area and region.”
“We are proud to work with Nidec, JobsOhio and local officials to support the renovation of the Imperial Electric Plant,” said Julie Sloat, AEP Ohio president and COO.
She credited AEP Ohio’s extensive economic development experience “partnered with our strong relationships, both locally and throughout the state” as resulting “in a collaboration that not only enables this facility to be more competitive, but keeps jobs where they are needed most.”
Contact Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155, Ext. 2551.