The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

April 4, 2014

Moving out

Cattron leaving for Warren, Ohio

SHARPSVILLE — It can’t get more stark: Cattron is moving from Sharpsville to Warren, Ohio.

The company’s owner, Laird Technologies Inc., made the announcement Thursday afternoon by e-mailing a news release.

The move will be quick. Laird said it will settle in the former Packard Electric building by early summer.

For almost a year, the company has been looking for a new site, saying it was looking to more than double in physical size.

While Warren looked to be the favorite site, locals were still holding out hope the company would remain somewhere in Mercer County.

Pennsylvania awarded Laird a $2.5 million grant if it built a new 70,000- square-foot, $16.3 million center at LindenPointe technical business park in Hermitage. But that offer wasn’t enough to sway the company.

Sharpsville Mayor Ken Robertson gave a glum assessment. He and other Sharpsville officials had pitched for the company to remain in the borough.

“I’m disappointed. It’s tough losing them in Sharpsville,’’ Robertson said. “But if the Sharpsville families could have gone to Hermitage instead of going all the way to Warren that would have been nice.’’

Cattron employees said they were told by company representatives in December the decision had been made to leave Sharpsville for Warren. Publicly though, the company said no final decision was in hand.

Robertson was miffed about the way the announcement was handed down. He was sent the e-mail by members of the news media.

“It sure would have been nice to receive an official announcement directly rather than from second-, third- or fourth-hand sources,’’ he said. “It’s like finding out you’re getting a divorce by having your neighbor tell you.’’

Loss of the company is going to hurt. Cattron employs 40 Sharpsville residents and the borough garners around $10,000 in wages taxes from workers living in Ohio.

Wishing Cattron well, Robertson said the next order of business is finding a company to settle in Cattron’s buildings.

“The sun is going to come up tomorrow,’’ he said. “Sharpsville has a lot to offer a business or several business out there looking to grow.’’

Warren had a lucrative offer for Cattron.

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 55 percent, nine-year job- creation tax credit for the company. The project is expected to create 55 full-time jobs and $3 million in payroll in addition to the company’s $9.5 million payroll, the authority said.

As part of the Ohio tax credit agreement, the state requires that the company maintain operations at the site for 12 years.

Still, Robertson credited Penn-Northwest Development Corp., Mercer County’s lead economic development agency, for doing all it could to keep Cattron in Mercer County.

If Laird was unwilling to have a new structure built, it was offered an existing structure in the county that was more than suitable, said Randy Seitz, Penn-Northwest’s CEO. The state was willing to kick in funding for that idea as well.

“They could have gotten into a building at pennies on the dollar – and that’s not an exaggeration,’’ Seitz said.

While locals complained Laird was playing two states against each other, Seitz said that’s a way of life in the business world.

“To play one community against another wouldn’t surprise me at all,’’ he said. “If I were in their shoes – my job would be to maximize shareholder value.’’

Mercer County got into a dueling match with Ohio on another company, Noise Solutions. A producer of sound-suppression equipment, Youngstown vied heavily to attract the Canadian business. The company chose Sharon.

“And Youngstown congratulated us on Noise Solutions,’’ Seitz said. “I think that’s a great sign. The importance is regionalism – if you can’t attract a business, you sure want it to be your neighbor.’’

A top priority for Penn-Northwest is to find a new enterprise for Cattron’s soon-to-be vacant buildings.

“We will do everything in our power to make sure somebody takes those buildings and creates new jobs,’’ Seitz said. “We will work as hard as we can to make that happen.’’

In its news release Rick Morse, Laird’s senior vice president and general manager, acknowledged the long history the company has had with Sharpsville.

“Laird thanks the Sharpsville community for hosting Laird and helping us to build a strong team over the past 65 years. Many of our employees, members of the Sharpsville community themselves, will continue on with Laird by commuting to the new location,’’ Morse said.

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