The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Reality Check

June 25, 2008

Exchange-rate shift makes us attractive to Canadian investors

Help for Ashtabula County’s economy is coming from north of the border.

Earlier this month, Growth Partnership (GP) for Ashtabula County announced that Pickens Plastics, which has factories in Ashtabula and Jefferson, was purchased by Sigma Industries of Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, for an undisclosed amount. Pickens has 60 employees whose jobs have been secured by the sale, which has the potential of adding more jobs in the years to come, according to Growth Partnership.

The following day, GP announced the pending sale of NEO Plastics in Austinburg to RTS Cos. (U.S.) Inc. NEO, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Feb. 21, 2007, was a supplier for RTS, based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. According to a GP news release, RTS has been producing items at Austinburg for the last month.

The sale is expected to retain 19 existing jobs at the former NEO site. Joseph Mayernick, executive director of GP, said in a news release that RTS will be creating new positions and expanding the footprint of the former NEO plastics building.

“If all goes according to plan RTS will move ahead quickly with its expansion plans, thus adding more dollars to our economy,” Mayernick says. “This entire process represents another save for Ashtabula County, but more importantly, a new investment from a Canadian company which is well respected with substantial abilities to add to the plant and to the county over the years.”

The Canadians’ interest in Ashtabula County reflects a trend in the global marketplace driven primarily by a weak U.S. dollar. American assets traditionally were priced beyond the reach of the Canadian dollar, which once traded as low as 62 cents.

“The price of the assets being purchased (in the U.S.) have come down very considerably,” says Bernie Wolf, director of the International MBA program at Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto.

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