Council approves tax break for O&k

Growth and success in its markets are leading to another expansion at a local steel coil wire manufacturer.

A $3.07 million investment in equipment and a building addition at the O&k American Corp. Seymour plant will create a dozen jobs, company officials said.

Chris White, vice president, provided details of the plan to the Seymour City Council during a meeting Monday.

The council approved the company’s request for a 10-year tax abatement on the proposed personal property and real estate improvements.

White said the $1 million addition is needed to connect two buildings at 1625 Batemen Drive in the Eastside Industrial Plant. The company expects to invest the other $2.07 million to purchase manufacturing equipment for increased production.

The new positions will put the factory at about 50 employees and generate an additional $380,000 in salaries, adding to the $1.6 million already being paid by the company, said Jim Plump, executive director of Jackson County Industrial Development Corp.

One of the challenges the company and others like it face is filling positions with skilled and educated laborers, White said, but he acknowledged the city’s efforts to create more opportunities to attract people here.

“I see some investment going out, some restaurants coming in and new housing, and we’re very appreciative of those efforts,” White said. “We’re excited when we see that.”

He also said there is more collaboration and assistance with meeting needs in Seymour than other locations, such as big cities. O&k America’s headquarters is in Chicago.

“Another thing I really like in this area compared to up north is that we can work with you,” he said.

White said the company has been working with Seymour High School to bring students to the factory to educate them about what manufacturers need when it comes to their workforces.

“You are open to us doing that, and we participate in that as much as we can,” he said. “We appreciate the openness you’ve given us down here to be able to do that, just explaining what we need, the type of people we need and the resources.”

The challenge remains, but White said Seymour is on the right path.

“We need to ask you to keep working on those investments, because we’re trying to provide the opportunity for jobs down here, and we need team members that can fill those jobs to bring more business to this area,” he said.

Installation of equipment and construction on the 30,000-square-foot addition is scheduled to begin next week and be completed by the end of the year.

O&k American just celebrated its five-year anniversary in May. Last January, the company announced plans to spend $6.5 million in similar investments.

Growth in the North American auto industry is helping to fuel the increased demand for O&k’s steel wire product, used in a variety of components, White said.

Council members expressed their appreciation to the company for locating to Seymour and continuing to do business here.

“We appreciate your confidence in our city,” Councilman Lloyd Hudson said.

“And we also appreciate your efforts to grow here in Seymour,” council President Jim Rebber added.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”By the numbers” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

$3.07 million: Total investment planned by O&k American Corp. at its Seymour location

12: Jobs that are expected to be created by company’s investment

10: Years approved by council for tax abatement on investment

30,000: Square footage of planned addition at O&k American in Seymour