Step2 Co., a Streetsboro, Ohio-based rotational molder of toy and home products, will open its first plant in the western United States in Bakersfield, Calif., in June or July, according to company officials.
The 109,250-square-foot facility will employ 140 and rotomold the firm's line of larger play toys and home products, according to Dottie Foltz, a Step2 spokeswoman.
Foltz said in a Feb. 25 telephone interview that the plant is expected to produce ``12-15 new items,'' particularly those more costly to transport across the country. It will serve the rotomolder's growing customer base in the western United States, the Pacific Rim and Mexico.
Wayne Stock, executive vice president, said Step2 will invest $2 million in equipment for the plant during a three-year period. Stock said he visited eight sites before selecting Bakersfield.
He added the plant will operate three shifts, ``probably six days a week.''
Metropolitan Bakersfield has a population of 380,000 and an unemployment rate of 11.5 percent, according to Bakersfield Mayor Bob Price. He said Step2 began discussions with the Kern (County) Economic Development Corp., the community's nonprofit business recruitment agency, in December.
Jake Wager, Bakersfield's economic director, said Step2 is moving into an existing 100,000-square-foot building and will expand it slightly with ``moderate tenant improvements.''
The city is providing $150,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds as an incentive to the company. The money is contingent on Step2 employing more than 100, with 51 percent of all jobs going to low- and moderate-income people. The city also will provide job training assistance.
Step2 said in a Feb. 23 prepared statement that 1997 sales reached $100 million. It employs 1,040 at plants in Streetsboro, Perrysville and Twinsburg, Ohio, and in Coleraine, Northern Ireland.
The company ranked second among North American rotomolders in Plastics News' 1997 survey.