Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

March 29, 2013

Commissioners get behind economic growth push

Debbie Blank
The Herald-Tribune

BROOKVILLE — Since 2006, Franklin County officials have divvied up an annual $500,000 riverboat revenue-sharing grant from the city of Lawrenceburg between the county and incorporated towns based on populations.

For instance, Batesville received $29,570 and Oldenburg $14,604 each year, according to county auditor Steve Brack.

Attorney Grant Reeves told Franklin County Commissioner Tom Wilson that an Indiana State Board of Accounts representative told him that practice of sharing the dollars had to stop.

Wilson and Commissioner Tom Linkel passed two laws during a March 22 special meeting. Ordinance 2013-15 repealed Ordinance 2013-13, which sought to portion out the Lawrenceburg money.

Ordinance 2013-16 divides the grant into two county piles: $376,326 to the general fund and $123,674 to the riverboat fund.

That $123,674 probably will be spent soon.

Officials at Uni-Ref Inc., which manufactures a heat-resistant material that makes up the protective linings of high-temperature furnaces, reactors and other processing units, announced plans Nov. 28 to relocate its headquarters from Sharonville, Ohio, to Brookville, creating up to 50 new jobs by 2015.

Franklin County Economic Development Commission member Bill Schirmer explained after the meeting, “We went to the council in November and said Uni-Ref is interested in relocating” here if the county could pay up to $250,000 in relocation expenses. Some money is needed for the move itself. Also, conveyors to help elevate the materials will need to be purchased as the new ceiling height is lower than the previous one.

Uni-Ref and FCEDC leaders have been waiting four months for those funds to materialize. According to Schirmer, “What I’ve learned from it, when the deal is done, the appropriations need to be made immediately  .... We’re very fortunate we’re working with a group as understanding as they have been.”

Brack said at the meeting Uni-Ref will receive its promised money in two $125,000 payments. The first is getting ready to be paid from Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) funds.

Council members who were present said they expected to appropriate the $123,674 from the riverboat fund to Uni-Ref at the April 23 meeting. Schirmer recommended voting on the matter at an earlier special meeting.

Then the council would have to scrape up just $1,326 from another revenue source.

Reeves pointed out the commissioners must decide what to do with the $500,000 the county will receive from Lawrenceburg in 2014 beforehand as it won’t be used as a Uni-Ref incentive.

The FCEDC member said he doesn’t know how many positions will be filled at Uni-Ref because it’s unclear how many of the current 55 associates at its Ohio and Pennsylvania facilities will transfer to the renovated 270,000-square-foot plant at 8031 Golden Road.

With all the talk about the area’s need for jobs, Schirmer said he was disappointed more county residents haven’t applied for Uni-Ref production, warehouse and quality control positions after ads were published.

To help the company have a good selection of prospective workers, the Franklin County Economic Development Commission will accept resumes on its behalf. They may be dropped off at the county tourism office with the large white columns, 813 Main St., Brookville, Friday, April 5, from 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 6, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. There will not be a Uni-Ref representative there. Resumes also may be e-mailed to Unirefinc@gmail.com, reports FCEDC President Hans Beck.