Miba adding 80 jobs at Morgan Co. plant

One of Morgan County’s largest employers plans to add 80 new jobs by 2015 thanks to two planned expansions at its McConnelsville car parts manufacturing facility.

Austrian-based Miba Energy Holding LLC announced Wednesday plans to consolidate its North American back office support staff to a new service center to be built in McConnelsville.

The site, which is expected to employ 10 to 20 highly-skilled positions by the end of the year, will join the Miba Sinter USA and Miba Bearings USA plants, both located on Ohio 60, said Mike Workman, executive director of the Morgan County Improvement Corporation.

The existing facilities contain some of the most advanced technology in the world for automotive components production, said Workman.

“It’s quite a deal for Morgan County and for southeastern Ohio to have such a high tech plant in the area,” he said.

The Morgan County Improvement Corporation, which advocates for local economic development, owns the McConnelsville facility, which it leases to Miba.

Currently they are in the process of adding around 40,000 square feet of manufacturing space to Miba Sinter, which will add an additional 70 jobs by early 2015, said Workman.

Though on a smaller scale, the new service center will also require new construction, which will also boost the local economy, he said.

McConnelsville was not the only option for the new service center, said John Molinaro, president and CEO of the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG).

“We were competing with an out of state location for this particular investment,” he said.

The dedicated local workforce helped McConnelsville stand out, he added.

“One of the things that helped us in working with Miba is how much they value the quality of the workforce they found in our region. That has really helped them prosper here,” said Molinaro.

The state has also incentivized the plant’s continued growth with tax credits.

Earlier this month, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 40 percent, six-year tax credit for the project.

According to an exhibit presented to the tax authority, Miba expects to employ the equivalent of 10 full-time employees at the new service center with an estimated payroll of just more than $700,000 annually.

In exchange for the tax credit, the company will be required to maintain operations at the project location for nine years.

The company is a huge contributor to the local economy, said Shannon Wells, director of the Community and Business Development Office of Morgan County.

“They are one of our largest employers and by far our largest manufacturing employer,” said Wells.

The new positions would add to the more than 500 Miba employees who currently work in McConnelsville, according to a press release from APEG.

In 2013, the McConnelsville facility generated $27 million in sales. The building expansion is expected to bring an additional $50 million in sales over the next two to three years, Wells said.

The new positions would include information technology specialists, accountants and purchasers.

Those positions would likely be filled by a combination of local and recruited employees, said Workman.

Morgan County has long struggled with a high unemployment rate. In January, the county was third in the state, with a 13.2 percent unemployment rate.

However, the county is making great strides to turn that around, said Workman.

It has been at the forefront of expanding vocational training options, he said.

“We’ve teamed up with Washington State Community College to create a multi-craft certification program,” explained Workman.

The program was developed with the wants and needs of potential employers in mind and graduated its first seven students last month, he said.

“Morgan County has been recognized as one of 10 communities in all of the Appalachian Regional Commission that his done it right strategically,” said Workman in relation to economic development.

Officials with Miba were not available for comment Wednesday.