Low power rates and proximity to markets spurred three plastics processors to locate in an industrial park near the Wisconsin-Illinois border this year. Iris USA Inc., a housewares producer; Parker Plastics Inc., a bottle blow molder; and Rehrig Pacific Co., a large-container molder, all are setting up pro-duction in LakeView Corporate Park in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., according to Jerold Franke, vice president of the development firm Wispark Corp. of Milwaukee.
Iris USA will invest about $25 million to injection mold polypropylene household storage containers, planters and other housewares in the industrial park, said Yutaka Hiramatsu, president of the subsidiary of Iris Ohyama Co. of Sendai, Japan.
``The electric power rate is very good and the park is near Chicago,'' Hiramatsu said in a telephone interview.
The facility will be Iris USA's second. It began molding housewares in Stockton, Calif., in early 1995.
An executive with a blow molding company decided to expand with a plant in the park because local pro-business attitudes complement low power rates and favorable workers' compensation rates.
Parker Plastics agreed to lease a 38,000-square-foot plant in the LakeView park and plans to custom blow mold honey containers, squeeze bottles and other containers on three new lines beginning in March. Vice President Jim Parker did not disclose the amount of investment in machinery, which includes decorating equipment.
Parker said his 8-year-old firm's main facility is at Sand Springs, Okla., where it runs nine blow molding machines and decorating equipment. It moved the head office plant from Tulsa, Okla., late last year. The private firm has annual sales of about $4.5 million.
Franke said Rehrig Pacific plans to move a molding operation from Guerney, Ill., to Pleasant Prairie's industrial park by summer. Rehrig, based in Los Angeles, makes drums, recycling bins and other large containers in Los Angeles, Guerney, Dallas, Atlanta and Raymond, N.H. Rehrig officials were unavailable to comment on the move.
The three processors join two other plastics firms already in Pleasant Prairie, Franke said. Nucon Corp. built a $7 million structural foam molding plant last year to make pallets in the park, about 20 miles north of its Deerfield, Ill., head office. PPC Industries Inc. has been making plastic bags in the park since 1994.
Franke said firms locating at LakeView park may get logistical support and assistance for a railroad spur but local governments ``don't toss money around like some southern states'' to attract business. He said power rates are about 3.2 cents per kilowatt hour during peak load periods and 2.2 cents on off-peak hours. LakeView's 1,450 acres have been under development since the summer of 1988.
Iris plans to build a 380,000-square-foot plant and office in the LakeView park by October and eventually install 60 injection presses. Hiramatsu said Iris USA probably will import the presses from Japan. Its 160,000-square-foot Stockton facility has 31 presses and will add six more this month.
Franke said local governments consider plastics firms ideal candidates for the industrial park because they usually do not pose pollution hazards.