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German manufacturer chooses Mason for $50M center


When all work is complete, German-based manufacturer Festo Corp. will have its largest U.S. location in Mason, the company’s U.S. president and chief executive said Monday.

The 175,000-square-foot Festo regional service center in Mason will employ about 250 people once it’s fully operational, making it larger than the company’s Hauppauge, N.Y., headquarters, president and CEO Richard Huss said.

“There’s no doubt about it,” Huss said. “There will probably be three times as many people there (in Mason) as anywhere else.”

Ground will be broken for the $50 million facility in the fall, and he expects the company to close on the site near Interstate 71 this month, the CEO said. The campus will be on the east side of I-71 northbound just north of Socialville Foster Road.

The site should be operating by mid-2015, reaching full employment of 250 by 2016, he said.

The site was selected to give Festo room to expand, even though expansion plans are not imminent, Huss said. The site will take up about 30 of 45 acres, company officials said. The company will remain based on Long Island, and a “core group” of employees — perhaps 12 to 15 — will transfer to Mason from New York.

But by far, most of the Mason hires will be new ones, Huss said.

Founded in the U.S. in 1972, Festo makes electric automation and pneumatic technology. It serves customers in automotive, biotechnology, electronics, solar, food, paper and other industries. Based in Esslingen, Germany, the company has 250 locations and more than 16,000 employees worldwide.

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority in April approved a 70 percent, 12-year tax credit for the project, with the expectation that the company would create 250 full-time jobs, generating $10.3 million in annual payroll.

While the economic incentives were important, they were not the “overriding factor” in choosing to build in Mason, Huss said. The company was growing out of its two New York facilities and Festo officials studied an array of potential sites for two years, he said, looking at Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, New York and elsewhere.

In the end, Festo leaders were drawn to Mason’s “location, location, location,” he said. There, 70 percent of Festo’s customer base are within a day’s reach via Fed Ex and UPS, and that’s key for a facility that will have two-thirds of its workforce focused on logistics and distribution, he said. On Long Island, the company is within reach of just 40 percent of its customer base, he added.



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