SIDNEY – The Sidney City Council passed legislation Monday evening and Tuesday morning to move forward with the process of welcoming SEMCORP Manufacturing USA LLC, a new manufacturing plant planning to develop on farmland for sale in west of Fair Road in Sidney.
The city of Sidney is competing with Texas for the company to determine where it will locate its next facility. SEMCORP has not yet made its final decision on its location.
The Sidney City Council Chamber was full again on Monday night with people pouring into the hallway waiting for a seat to open, after the city’s new police officers were sworn in, so residents who resident near the site of the potential new manufacturing plant could find out more.
Finance Officer Renee DuLaney introduced the order, which was first presented to council on April 11, which grants a municipal job creation tax credit to SEMCORP and authorizes City Manager Andrew Bowsher to enter into a job creation tax credit agreement. City council unanimously passed the bill on Monday evening.
DuLaney again explained that SEMCORP intends to build a new state-of-the-art manufacturing plant, west of Fair Road, south of Millcreek Road and east of Kuther Road, with an estimated area of approximately 850 000 square feet, to produce lithium-ion battery separator film and related products. At the April 11 city council meeting, Bowsher explained that the plant will not produce or own lithium, but rather a film that will go inside the battery. He also previously said the facility was very clean and encouraged those interested to visit the company’s website or social media pages to learn more about the product and how it’s made.
SEMCORP intends to recruit and develop an excellent, dedicated and trained workforce, DuLaney said when presenting the order. The venture will create no less than 1,199 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs and no less than $73 million in taxable wages in Sidney, she said. SEMCORP will agree to maintain significant operations, employment and payroll at the project site for at least twice the number of years of the tax credit. Failure by SEMCORP to meet agreed job creation and payroll figures may result in reimbursement to the City of Sidney of such tax credits.
By pursuing this agreement, SEMCORP expects to expand the city’s tax base and create jobs, DuLaney said. The City of Sydney would provide an annual non-refundable job creation tax credit for 10 years. This credit, she said, is calculated on 75% of new Sidney employee 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.
Bowsher then introduced Jim Hill, Executive Director of the Sidney-Shelby Economic Development Partnership, who briefly explained that the site had been identified by JobsOhio as a ready-to-go site for some time. He also presented a short video about SEMCORP and its product, then introduced SEMCORP Vice President James Shih.
Shih provided information on his family’s business, its establishment and evolution, and said he would be available to answer any questions from those in attendance. The video explained a bit about the film separators to be produced, showed the inside of a production facility, and briefly touched on the company’s plans for the plant that might move to Sidney.
Shih explained that SEMCORP was founded by his father-in-law and his father-in-law’s brother, who are originally from China but came to the United States to get an education and fulfill their American dream. They got jobs in a manufacturing plant as engineers in Texas, and after a while they were able to start their own business, they moved back to China to start the business, because it was more profitable, but they sought to bring their business back to the United States. Shih noted that his wife grew up in Texas. Shih said they built their business from scratch to become an industry leader today. He said the hope is that construction will start in early 2023.
During a call for questions/comments from Board members, each Board member welcomed SEMCORP representatives and expressed excitement about a possible future with the company coming to Sidney. Council member Steven Klinger also asked if they plan to export their product.
Shih said maybe, because global demand is so high, and if so, the product would probably go to the EU.
Although many people attended Monday’s meeting, only a few of the crowd present spoke.
Millcreek Road resident Jeff Stangel asked if SEMCORP is headquartered in Shanghai, China. Shih confirmed it was, prompting Stangel to say he was going to read something on his phone. Stangel then read about alleged forced labor, abuse, family separations and other “atrocities” that allegedly occurred in Shanghai. He then asked council members if this is the type of business the city wants to welcome to Sidney.
Mayor Mardie Milligan answered bluntly, “No.” She told him that such behavior is illegal in the United States and Ohio and would not be tolerated here. She said this is not the type of business the city welcomes, and the city would not welcome any business that encourages such behavior.
Next, Mick Given of Plum Ridge Trail spoke in favor of locating the company in Sidney and called on audience members to ask the appropriate questions. Fear is based on the unknown, he noted. He also said that Shelby County is so lucky to have a legal business in the county, SEMCORP is coming to Sidney because of the workforce here, and the business will provide opportunities for the community.
Chris Gillespie, a resident of Kirkwood Road, said he wanted to state publicly that he was against SEMCORP because he believed it would hurt his property value. He asked for clarification on where the trucks would enter and exit. Bowsher said the main access road will be next to Fair Road and only eight to 12 tractor-trailers carrying produce are expected per day.
The city council also held a special meeting Tuesday morning to consider additional legislation on SEMCORP coming to Sidney. During this meeting, the council adopted three resolutions, and they are:
• A business zone agreement for a tax reduction of 75% for 15 years. Sidney City Schools and the Upper Valley Career Center approved the requested reduction percentage and duration. The estimated tax abatement over the 15 year period is $31,633,875.
• Two School Tax Sharing Agreement Resolutions — which authorize Bowsher to enter into income tax sharing agreements with the school boards of the City of Sidney Schools and the Upper Valley Career Centre. Once built, SEMCORP expects to create 1,199 new full-time jobs for a projected annual payroll of $76,500,000.
Jeff Hoagland, CEO/Chairman of the Dayton Development Coalition, spoke “strongly” in favor of bringing SEMCORP to Sidney. He said it was important to Ohio because it would be the largest initial foreign direct investment project in Ohio’s history. He said the Dayton Development Coalition is aware of the national security issues facing the United States and that the federal government is aware of this project. He said they “strongly believe this should go ahead”.
“All of these jobs will have an additional economic impact on Sidney and Shelby County as employees spend their earnings, providing economic opportunity for years to come,” Hoagland said.
The city council voted unanimously, except for council member Joe Moniaci, who was absent on Tuesday, to approve the adoption of the three resolutions presented on Tuesday. Moniaci’s absence was excused by the city council.
Bowsher told the Sidney Daily News when asked about the status of the company’s location in Sidney: “We actively compete with Texas. But we are confident that we (the city of Sidney) are the favorites at this point. We hope to have a final announcement by the end of the month.