Published by: Record Courier
LG Chem broke ground Wednesday on two new buildings in Ravenna, which will produce materials used in the automotive industry and employ more than 100 people.
Representatives of LG Chem America, joined by contractors and architects from Geis Companies and city and county leaders, gathered to celebrate the start of construction on two buildings behind Ravenna's former GE plant in the Chestnut Commerce Center off North Chestnut Street.
In March, Ravenna's Planning Commission approved site plans for two buildings on the site, a 148,400-square-foot "ABS compounding" building, and a 60,350-square-foot "ABS Technical Center." Once the business opens, about 100 people are expected to be employed there.
The factory will produce ABS, a type of flexible plastic used in various industrial applications, including the automotive industry. Company President Young Lee said the factory will be the only site in the United States where LG will produce the chemical compound.
Lee said construction began Wednesday, and will continue as long as weather permits and resume in 2023.
"Hopefully by the end of next year, you will see our operation," he said.
The company decided to locate in Ravenna, Lee said, because it's centrally located between automakers in Ohio and Michigan. There is room on the site reserved for potential future growth.
Brad Ehrhart, president of the Portage County Development Board, said he got a call from LG's realty company on Jan. 6, 2021, months after Chestnut Commerce Center developers Ray and Ann Harner worked with ABC Railroad and county leaders to bring a rail spur to the property. The realtor, Ehrhart said, was looking for a 15-acre site with rail access, and Ehrhart thought immediately of the Ravenna property.
"It all came together at the right time," he said.
Ann Harner said the rail spur brought "a lot of attention" to the commerce center. A six-acre site on the property, she said, is still available for development.
Mayor Frank Seman said he's heard a lot of excitement about Ravenna since LG Chem's plans were announced.
"It's going to be good for the community," he said. "I think Ohio is prime for growth."
Portage County commissioners, who recently approved a tax abatement for LG Chem and met Lee and another member of his staff, praised the development and congratulated LG Chem workers at the groundbreaking.
"Ravenna is going to be on the map for sure," Commissioner Vicki Kline said.