- By Matt Sanctis Staff Writer
A high-tech manufacturing firm that has pledged to create roughly 400 jobs here in the next few years chose to expand in Springfield after narrowing the field from about 50 other sites, company leaders said Monday.
Silfex, based in Eaton, has pledged to invest about $223 million in Springfield and recently purchased the former Thirty-One Gifts plant near the PrimeOhio Industrial Park for $11 million. The company is a high-tech manufacturing firm that provides silicon products for a variety of markets.
The company has roughly doubled its workforce since 2014 and is on track to double again by 2020, said Kit Armstrong, general manager of Silfex, a division of Lam Research.
Company leaders looked at about 50 potential sites before narrowing the field to four finalists, all in Ohio, Armstrong said. But research showed Clark County was awash in skilled workers with experience in manufacturing in a variety of other industries, he said.
“Quite frankly, it’s one of the reasons we came here,” Armstrong said.
The Springfield site also provides good access to transportation, he said, and local city and economic development officials pushed to resolve the company’s challenges.
Silfex was founded in Preble County and builds silicon components for a several industries, including everything from computer processors to cell phones to cars. The firm also grows silicon crystals at its existing plant in Eaton and will perform similar functions in Springfield.
As more industries use those chips, Armstrong said the demand for Silfex’s products has grown rapidly.
“It’s a righteous circle that’s creating demand for our products,” he said.
The company plans to conduct most of its hiring locally throughout next year and begin production at the Titus Road plant in the first quarter of 2019. The bulk of the initial hiring will be for skilled manufacturing jobs, including machine operators.
But the company will also look to hire engineers, information technology specialists, and support staff including human resources positions and supply chain staff.
A second phase, in which the company ramps up its silicon crystal growing operation in Springfield, would likely begin operation in 2020.
Company leaders have previously said annual payroll locally would be about $20.7 million. Pay will vary depending on the job duties, but Armstrong said average pay would likely be about $53,000 a year, including benefits.
The Ohio Tax Credit Authority has approved an incentive package as part of an agreement in which the company pledged to create as many as 400 jobs and invest $223 million in Springfield.
Clark County has had success in attracting new business this year, said Horton Hobbs, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Greater Springfield. Earlier this year, Topre America Corp., an auto parts manufacturing firm, announced plans to invest $55 million and create 85 jobs in a 146,000-square-foot facility at the Champion City Business Park in the city.
“This is a further diversification of our economic base,” Hobbs said of the Silfex expansion in Springfield.