A plastic container maker is setting up temporary shop in Ohio to be closer to a customer as it plans for a permanent facility in the area.
Officials in Stark County, Ohio, said IML Containers is leasing about 35,000 square feet to make containers for Land O'Lakes Inc.'s nearby facility in Cleveland.
IML currently has sites in Saint-Placide, Quebec; Le Mars, Iowa; Lyons, Ill.; and Flagstaff, Ariz., according to the company's website.
"What they did was they were looking for a location that was near. We're getting a lot of inquiries from the plastics industry, which is one of our targets for the community," said Ray Hexamer, president of the Stark County Economic Development Board.
Stark County, which counts Canton, Ohio, as its county seat, is in eastern Ohio, not far from where Royal Dutch Shell is building an ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, Pa.
Shell is taking advantage of the region's resurgent natural gas production brought on by fracking in both the Utica and Marcellus shale regions, located at different depths below the earth's surface.
And Hexamer said his county's proximity to the increased production will help drive economic development. The area also is a hub for food production, so creating an expanded plastics economic locally makes sense to better serve those markets.
"The industry is very important for our future. IML is our great first tenant for us and a great company. They were extremely easy to work with," Hexamer said. "We were able to find a facility that they will lease for two years, and they will be building a new manufacturing facility in the area for future growth."
IML, which is short for in-mold labeling, is in the process of setting up equipment in its 35,000-square-foot temporary home and expects production to begin soon.
Hexamer admitted he sounded like an economic development salesman when he touted Stark County's advantages. "When we look at the plastics industry, we are within a six-hour drive of a majority of the business that's done in that industry," he said.
"We're centrally located. We have rail. We have air. We have great interstates," Hexamer said, describing the situation as "stars lining up for our community."
Hiring already has begun at IML in Ohio, which eventually expects to employ about 85 workers, the economic development official said.
A representative of IML, owned by Lacroix Emballages of Bois D'Amont, France, could not be reached for comment.
The company expects to be in its permanent facility during the next two years and currently is looking at two potential locations, Hexamer said.