Trish Bennett, Editor
CIRCLEVILLE – An Italian company announced Thursday its plan to build a 1.4 million square foot manufacturing facility in Circleville that will create local manufacturing and management jobs within the next two years.
The facility will allow the Sofidel Group, recognized as the sixth largest manufacturer of tissue paper in the world, to increase production in the U.S. with operation projected to begin by 2017. The company said hiring is set to begin in the fall of 2016.
“The U.S. is the most important market in the tissue paper industry, so selecting an ideal facility location was critical to our continued growth in American markets,” said Luigi Lazzareschi, chief executive officer, Sofidel Group. “Assistance from SelectUSA, JobsOhio, Columbus 2020 and the Pickaway Progress Partnership was critical in our evaluation of communities and selection of Circleville for our new plant.”
Pending required approvals and favorable due diligence, the facility will be located on what is known as the Colomet Site, which sits east of U.S. Route 23 and south of Pittsburgh Road, according to Ryan Scribner, executive director of Pickaway Progress Partnership (P3).
“The magnitude of this is huge,” Scribner said. “It’s only once in a generation or so that an opportunity like this presents itself in Pickaway County. It’s a big project, a big investment, and they will employ a lot of people.”
According to Columbus 2020, the project represents the first U.S. greenfield project for the Sofidel Group, which was founded nearly 50 years ago in Italy and is still privately held by families of the founders. The Sofidel Group currently has operations in 13 countries.
“Pickaway County is very excited to welcome Sofidel to our community,” said Brian Stewart, president of the Pickaway County Board of Commissioners. “The Board of Commissioners has worked closely with Pickaway Progress Partnership, the City of Circleville and many other community partners to make our county an attractive place to do business, and the results are speaking for themselves. These new jobs will be an incredible addition to our local economy.”
Columbus 2020 credits a successful collaboration with SelectUSA as the driving force in the company’s attraction to the Columbus Region. The 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit served as a catalyst for the relationship, they said, allowing Columbus 2020 to display the Columbus Region’s operational advantages for international companies.
In the weeks following the SelectUSA event, Columbus 2020 was accompanied by the Pickaway Progress Partnership during a visit to the Sofidel facility in Italy, which is where company leaders first learned of the Circleville site.
Scribner said he and local representatives from Columbus 2020 met with several companies during the business development trip to Europe but focused specifically on the Sofidel Group, which had been planning a new U.S. facility for at least the past two years.
“We met with them at their headquarters in northern Italy and had the opportunity to talk about the benefits of doing business in Ohio, more specifically in the Columbus region and even more specifically in Pickaway County on a site we felt met some of their unique requirements,” Scribner said. “With follow-up phone calls and visits here to the Circleville area, we were able to really roll out the red carpet and show them how we can support them as a community from a workforce and infrastructure standpoint. We made our case why we thought they could be very successful here.”
Vinai Thummalapally, executive director of SelectUSA, said they are thrilled the SelectUSA Investment Summit provided a platform to initiate this relationship and a springboard for collaboration between a wide variety of community partners.
“We look forward to working with Columbus 2020 and the Sofidel Group as the investment progresses,” Thummalapally said. “Congratulations to all involved for seizing this opportunity and working hard to bring manufacturing jobs to Circleville.”
Scribner said there are still a number of processes that need to be achieved, and residents can expect to see a flurry of activity on an aggressive timeline to get a facility of this size built and into operation.
According to Columbus 2020, the Columbus Region’s attraction effort leveraged several public and private collaborators, including JobsOhio, American Electric Power, Columbia Gas of Ohio, Norfolk Southern, the Ohio Rail Development Commission, the Ohio Department of Transportation Jobs & Commerce division, Pickaway Progress Partnership and many private businesses and community officials.
“We are delighted that Sofidel chose Ohio for its first integrated greenfield facility in the United States,” said Glenn Richardson, managing director of JobsOhio. “Sofidel’s investment will establish an Ohio presence for one of the world’s leading integrated paper manufacturers while creating jobs in Circleville.”
Scribner said the project is the culmination of a true group effort between local, regional and state officials.
“It was a true collaborative model and team effort,” Scribner said. “This is a project with significance beyond just local impact. It’s a good thing for Pickaway County, for surrounding counties, for the Columbus Region and the state. The employment opportunities and stimulus something like this will bring to the local economy really is a big deal.”
More information on the Sofidel Group can be found at www.sofidel.it/eng/.
This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal