City moves closer to welcoming new manufacturing plant

By Sheryl Roadcap - [email protected]

SIDNEY — The Sidney City Council adopted legislation Monday evening and Tuesday morning to move forward with the process of welcoming SEMCORP Manufacturing USA LLC, a new manufacturing plant considering developing on farm land for sale west of Fair Road, to Sidney.

The city of Sidney is in competition with Texas for the business to determine where it will call its next facility home. SEMCORP has not made its final decision yet about where it will be located.

The Sidney City Council Chambers was full once again on Monday evening with people spilling over into the hallway waiting for a seat to open up, after the city’s newest police officers were sworn-in, so residents who reside near the site of the potential new manufacturing plant could learn more.

Finance Officer Renee DuLaney presented the ordinance, which was first introduced to council on April 11, that grants a municipal income tax job creation tax credit to SEMCORP and authorizes City Manager Andrew Bowsher to enter into an agreement pertaining to the job creation tax credit. City Council unanimously adopted this legislation Monday night.

DuLaney again explained that SEMCORP intends to construct a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, west of Fair Road, south of Millcreek Road and east of Kuther Road, that is estimated to be approximately 850,000-square-feet, to produce lithium-ion battery separator film and related products. During the April 11 City Council meeting, Bowsher explained the plant will not produce or possess lithium, but rather a film that will go inside of the battery product. He also previously said the facility is very clean and encouraged those interested to visit the business’ website or social media pages to learn more about the product and how it is produced.

SEMCORP intends to recruit and develop an excellent, dedicated and trained workforce, DuLaney said when presenting the ordinance. The business will create no less than 1,199 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, and no less than $73 million of Sidney taxable wages, she said. SEMCORP will agree to maintain significant operations, jobs, and payroll at the project location for at least twice the number of years of the tax credit. Failure by SEMCORP to abide by the agreed upon job and payroll creation figures may require reimbursement to the city of Sidney of said tax credits.

In pursuing this agreement, SEMCORP plans to expand the city’s tax base and create jobs, DuLaney said. The city of Sidney would provide a job creation nonrefundable annual tax credit for a 10-year-term. This credit, she said, is calculated on 75% of the new employees Sidney income taxes withheld up to a maximum annual credit of $1.5 million, for tax years 2026 through 2035 for the company’s net profit return.

Bowsher then introduced Jim Hill, executive director of the Sidney-Shelby Economic Development Partnership, who briefly explained the site has been identified by JobsOhio as a shovel-ready site for quite sometime. He also presented a short video about SEMCORP and its product and then presented SEMCORP Vice President James Shih.

Shih provided background on his family’s business, its inception and evolution, and said he would be available to answer any questions from people in the audience. The video explained a little about the film separators to be produced, showed the inside of a production plant and briefly addressed the business’ plans for the plant that may locate in Sidney.

Shih explained that SEMCORP was founded by his father-in-law and his father-in-law’s brother, who are from China, but came to the US to obtain an education and fulfill their American dream. They secured jobs working in a manufacturing plant as engineers in Texas, and after a point where they were able to build their own business, did go back to China to start the company, as it was more cost effective, but sought to bring their company back to the US. Shih noted that his wife grew up in Texas. Shih said they built their business from nothing to now an industry leader. He said the hope is for construction to begin in early 2023.

During a call for questions/comments from council members, each member of council welcomed SEMCORP representatives and expressed excitement about a possible future with the business coming to Sidney. Council member Steven Klinger also asked if they expect to export their product.

Shih said possibly, because the global demand is so high, and if so, the product would probably go to the EU.

Although numerous people attended Monday’s meeting, only a few out of the crowd in attendance spoke.

Millcreek Road resident Jeff Stangel asked if SEMCORP is headquartered in Shanghai, China. Shih confirmed that it was, which prompted Stangel to say he was going to read something from his phone. Stangel then went on to read about alleged forced labor, abuse, family separations and other “atrocities” that allegedly occur in Shanghai. He then asked council members if this is the type of company the city wants to welcome in Sidney.

Mayor Mardie Milligan bluntly responded, “No.” She told him those behaviors are illegal in the US and Ohio and would not be tolerated here, She said that is not the type of business the city is welcoming, nor would the city welcome any company who promotes such behavior.

Next Mick Given, of Plum Ridge Trail, spoke in favor of the business locating in Sidney, and appealed to audience members to ask appropriate questions. Fear is based upon the unknown, he noted. He also said Shelby County is so blessed to have any legal business come into the county, that SEMCORP is coming to Sidney because of the workforce here and that the company will provide opportunities for the community.

Kirkwood Road resident Chris Gillespie said he wanted to go on the record for being against SEMCORP because he believes it will hurt his property value. He asked for clarity of where the trucks will come in and out. Bowsher said the main access road will be off Fair Road, and only eight to 12 semi-trucks hauling product are expected per day.

City Council also held a special meeting Tuesday morning to consider additional legislation on SEMCORP coming to Sidney. During that meeting, council adopted three resolutions, and they are:

• An enterprise zone agreement for a 75% tax abatement for 15 years. Both Sidney City Schools and Upper Valley Career Center have approved the requested abatement percentage and term. The estimated tax abatement over the 15-year period is $31,633,875.

• Two resolutions on school tax sharing agreements — which authorizes Bowsher to enter into a income tax sharing agreements with the Sidney City Schools and Upper Valley Career Center Boards of Education. Once constructed, SEMCORP expects to create 1,199 new full-time jobs at a projected annual payroll of $76,500,000.

Jeff Hoagland, CEO/president of the Dayton Development Coalition, spoke “strongly” in favor of SEMCORP coming to Sidney. He said this is big for Ohio, as it would be the largest initial foreign direct investment project in Ohio history. He said the Dayton Development Coalition is aware of the national security issues facing the US and the federal government is aware of this project. He said they “strongly believe it should move forward.”

“All of these jobs will bring additional economic impact into Sidney and Shelby County, as employees spend their income, providing economic opportunity for years to come,” Hoagland said.

City Council voted unanimously, with the exception of Council member Joe Moniaci, who was absent Tuesday, to approve the adoption of all three resolutions presented Tuesday. Moniaci’s absence was excused by City Council.

Bowsher told the Sidney Daily News, when asked about the status of the business locating in Sidney, “We are actively in competition with Texas. But we feel strongly we (the city of Sidney) are the front runner at this point. We hope to have a final announcement by the end of the month.”

By Sheryl Roadcap

[email protected]