It’s a $4.8 million investment in Leitchfield and Grayson County that could bring up to 125 new full-time jobs to the area.
On Wednesday, May 30, company officials and Gov. Steve Beshear made it offiical: New York Blower Co. will be setting up a manufacturing operation in the former Trim Masters building in the Judge Kenneth H. Goff Industrial Park off Brandenburg Road.
The Willowbrook, Ill.-based firm makes fans and blowers for the industrial and OEM marketplace, producing everything from grain drying machinery to blowers used in snow making.
City officials had announced earlier in the month that the company would be coming to town, but had offered few specifics.
Local leaders and state leaders, company personnel and economic development specialists Wednesday detailed a roughly 14-month courtship between New York Blower, Leitchfield and Grayson County that started with a site visit hosted by Jeff Taylor, a senior target market specialist with the Tennessee Valley Authority. TVA has its own economic development arm that works to bring businesses to its seven-state region.
At that point, New York Blower had already visited 14 or 15 other sites, scouting for a location for its third manufacturing plant in the United States.
They were quickly ‘blown away’ by the quality of the Trim Masters site, and by the potential quality of the area workforce, Bob Korfmann, the company’s executive vice president of operations, said.
Visits with Grayson County School District and Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center employees, and months of meetings and negotiations with city, county and state leaders helped seal the deal, said Korfmann and Joe Centers, New York Blower’s chief operations officer.
Centers, whose father is a native of Scottsville, Ky., said Leitchfield reminds him about what is great about the state’s smaller towns: “It’s a great place to raise a family, and a great place to do business.”
Korfmann said the company hopes to begin local operations by September or October with a small number of employees. It projects reaching full staffing of about 125 people over several years.
Neither Centers nor Korfmann discussed the salary ranges for jobs at the plant, or what types of skills potential employees would need. Welding, however, is a likely job duty, since company officials reviewed the welding program at the Grayson County Technology Center.
Gov. Beshear said Kentucky’s unemployment rate has continued to drop for nine straight months, thanks to expansions by both existing companies and relocations by new ones.
Getting companies to look at Kentucky communities is one thing, “but if they don’t have that quality workforce, (the companies) are going to look somewhere else,” he said in praising Leitchfield’s efforts in securing the plant.
And the plant’s impact will be felt beyond the “125 Kentucky families who will now have a more secure future,” Beshear said. The ripple effect from those families having more money will be felt by other businesses throughout the area, he pointed out.
Mayor William H. Thomason said the company has “given us the greatest compliment in coming here,” and termed it’s investment in the community as “unreal.”
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority has preliminarily approved up to $4.8 million in tax incentives for the company through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentives will allow New York Blower Co. to keep a portion of its investment through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
Leitchfield is also exempting the company from ad valorem taxes for five years, and will give $1,000 for each of the first 100 employees hired within 60 months to the Leitchfield-Grayson County Industrial Development Corp., which is offering a $100,000 loan incentive for the plant.
New York Blower’s roots stretch back to 1889, when brothers J.W. and August Mathis opened a sheet metal shop on the south side of Chicago. In 1894 the Mathis Brothers Co. bought the The New York Blower Co., a fan manufacturer headquartered in New York City whose factory was in Bucyrus, Ohio.
In 1919 the factory was moved to La Porte, Ind. That same year, New York Blower Co. became on the of 12 founding members of the National Association of Fan Manufacturers. In 2001 the company opened a factory in Effingham, Ill. — it’s first one outside La Porte.