WAPAKONETA — When Australian billionaire Anthony Pratt looked at Ohio as a possible location, President Donald Trump said he helped make the sale.
“Anthony asked ‘How are (American workers)? Are they good as I think?’ I said: ‘They’re even better,’” Trump said during his visit to Wapakoneta.
Together with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Pratt, Trump spent part of his speech Sunday night touting the benefits of foreign direct investment, which Wapakoneta and its workers have benefited from.
Ten years ago, the small city had no foreign-owned factories. Today, it has four.
“Companies around the world are realizing there’s no place they’d rather be than here in the American heartland, and there’s no worker more skilled than the American worker, although Scott when he has his speech, he may be debating that,” Trump said.
But the strength of the region’s workforce is just one of the reasons places like Pratt Industries are looking in the area. Logistics also plays a part, Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council Executive Director Greg Myers said.
Sitting on the confluence of two major highways helps outside factories solve supply chain issues, and foreign companies can often make, ship and sell the product without needing to move the product across multiple time zones.
“What’s the world’s biggest economy? What people spend more dollars per capita?” Myers said. “If the world’s biggest market to sell goods is here, so you’re closer to where your customer is.”
Combine logistics with the low cost of utilities, a skilled workforce and availability of shovel-ready properties — zoned industrial sites already hooked up with industrial utilities — and the final tally adds up to attract outside companies.
As for Australia’s investment alone, Trump estimated the nation invests roughly $3 billion to the United States. Pratt Industries investment into Wapakoneta alone rounds up to $500 million.
Investment into the shovel-ready site is expected to create a paper mill and recycled corrugated cardboard factory, creating 300 jobs and thereby making Pratt Industries Australia’s largest employer in the United States. During Trump’s visit, a number of facilities already sit at the site, but construction continues as the ground is prepared for its foundation.
Pratt Industries will join Japanese-owned Kyocera, French-owned Ingredia, and a Canadian-owned Ohio Greenhouse Company that currently stand in the Wapakoneta Industrial Park. The three companies make industrial screws (among other products), protein additives and hydroponically-grown tomatoes, respectively.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also spent a portion of his time at the podium celebrating the relationship between the United States and Australia, which conduct up to $65 billion in trade annually
“Thank you for the opportunity for Australia and United States to work together with a lot that we do. Not just an alliance based on security with our defense forces but an economic partnership,” Morrison said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.