Ball Corp. adds 99 jobs, expands Canton operations

Company invests $35 million to expand plant that produces steel and aluminium easy-open ends for metal cans.

By Repository staff report
Posted Oct 5, 2016 at 4:15 PM
Updated Oct 5, 2016 at 7:10 PM

CANTON—Nineteen years after buying a factory on Warner Road SE, George M. Smart found himself returning to the place Wednesday morning to celebrate its expansion.

Colorado-based Ball Corp. is wrapping up a $35 million project at the plant, which back in 1997 was sold by Sequa to Phoenix Packaging. Smart founded Phoenix packaging in 1993, then led Sonoco Phoenix for several years after Sonoco bought the local company. Ball bought the Phoenix business from Sonoco in February 2015 and began the expansion effort last summer.

Meanwhile, Smart, a Stark County resident, has been a director on Ball’s board since 2005. He joined other company executives at Wednesday’s celebration. There were speeches, a ribbon cutting and tours of the expanded facility.

“It’s a big company that operates like a entrepreneurial company,” Smart said of Ball.

Smart said he is delighted and thinks it’s terrific that Ball has the facility at 2121 Warner Road SE, as well as a plant at 3075 Brookline Road in Green. “This is an important plant for Ball Corp.”

Expanding in Ohio

Ball employs 1,000 people around Ohio, with facilities in Columbus, Hubbard, Dayton and Findlay.

The company built a 96,000-square-foot addition to the Warner Road plant. The new space will be used as a central hub for cutting and printing steel or aluminium sheets that will be turned into cans used for food, beverages and household products. The facility will continue to produce steel and aluminium easy-open ends for cans.

When Ball bought the plant, it had 23 employees. The workforce will top 120 once the expansion is complete. The company continues installing and preparing machinery.

Another expansion is taking place in Columbus where Ball is investing $20 million to install equipment for cutting and printing on metal sheet. That project will add 80 jobs to the operation, company officials said.

The expansion here and in Columbus replaces a facility Ball has operated in Weirton, W.Va., since 1993. Earlier this year, Ball announced it intends to close the Weirton operation by March 2017. The move eliminates 320 jobs. Some of the workers have been offered positions in Canton and at the other Ball facilities in Ohio.

City, state assistance

Ball officials decided to expand in Canton just a few months after working with employees at the Warner Road and Brookline Road facilities.

“You don’t invest in equipment, you invest in people,” John Hayes, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said Wednesday, praising the local workers. “You can’t have great outcomes without great people.”

As part of the expansion, Ball sought tax assistance from the state and the city. The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 50 percent, six-year job creation tax credit for the project. Canton officials approved an enterprise zone agreement giving Ball a 10-year, 75 percent real estate property tax exemption.

Mike Gill, vice president of economic development for the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, said Ball’s expansion “is a really good example of how working with existing companies” can help local economic development. The Chamber, city development officials, OhioMeansJobs and the Stark Development Board collaborated to help Ball.

“We’re just one of the players, one of the team members,” Gill said of the Chamber’s effort.

Local leaders pleased

Elected officials who attended the ceremony obviously were happy to see Ball adding local jobs that pay well and offer good benefits.

“It’s always great when you see somebody growing,” U.S Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, said.

U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, said the project is a starting point. “There’s a great opportunity to grow from here,” he said.

Gibbs and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, both cited Ohio’s reputation as a leader in manufacturing. Brown said he and others reject the “rust belt” label applied to the state. “Nobody does it like Ohio does,” Brown said of the state’s ability to make a wide variety of products.

Mayor Thomas Bernabei praised the efforts of the Chamber and the city’s development staff for helping Ball. “We welcome you and we thank you,” Bernabei told company officials.

Article reprinted with permission, Copyright 2016, Repository, Some rights reserved.

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