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Ohio aids Step2 expansion

By: Bill Bregar

August 31, 2012

STREETSBORO, OHIO (Aug. 31, 2:20 p.m. ET) — The state of Ohio has approved tax breaks that will help Step2 Co. LLC add employees and invest in equipment at its two factories that make rotational molded toys, mailboxes and lawn and garden products.

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved the tax credits Aug. 27, covering Step2’s headquarters factory in Streetsboro, Ohio, and its other plant, in Perrysville, Ohio. Step2 will get a 45 percent, six-year tax credit from the expansions.

Step2 expects to add 125 jobs in Streetsboro and 75 jobs in Perrysville over the next three years. Together, the hiring should generate $5.3 million in annual payroll, according to the Ohio Tax Authority, which is part of the Ohio Department of Development.

In Streetsboro, the company will build a warehouse that will centralize distribution, currently housed in several temporary facilities, the state said. At both Streetsboro and Perrysville, Step2 will modify existing equipment and invest in new machinery. The type of new machinery was not specified, and Step2 officials could not be reached for comment.

In 2009, Little Tikes Co. — Step2’s arch-rival neighbor — was awarded a $3.2 million low-interest loan to keep the toy rotomolder in Hudson. Officials of Tikes parent MGA Entertainment Inc. had asked for government assistance, saying that the company could move out of its hometown to another state, or to Mexico.

Both companies have added jobs in the past year, according to Plastics News’ most recent rotomolders ranking. Step2 added 100 jobs. Little Tikes reported adding about 170.

Tikes General Manager Tom Richmond said the new hires are about evenly split between full-time and temporary employees. “We’re up substantially,” he said.

The hiring boomlet means that together the companies employ about 1,500 total workers — making northeast Ohio a center of the U.S. toy industry.