An established Sussex County company and one planning to relocate operations from Mexico to Seaford are set to receive nearly $140,000 in Sussex County economic development grants.
Sussex County Council approved grants to Atlantis Industries Corp. in Milton and ILC Dover/Grayling Industries at its April 30 meeting based on the two companys' plans to create new jobs. Atlantis – 56 jobs – will receive up to $44,800, and Grayling – 115 jobs – will receive up to $92,000. The companies plan to use the money in conjunction with state grants and loans to implement plans for growth.
Atlantis Industries has been operating for 50 years in Milton and is facing a major growth spurt, said General Manager Dave Bunting. The company operates three shifts a day.
He told council the company anticipates 100 percent sales growth by 2014 with sales increasing from $4 million last year to $8 million next year. The company has added 12 new jobs over the past few months and plans to add another 20 full-time jobs next year.
Bunting said Atlantis has more than $2 million in capital expenses for equipment and machinery to be installed by 2016 and will need to spend $245,000 to renovate its existing facility to accommodate the growth.
Atlantis plans to add 20 new jobs and will get credit for keeping its 36 existing employees instead of relocating the company to Maryland, where it is headquartered.
He said the company has been able to weather the ups and downs of the economy because of its diversified base, including consumer, industrial, automobile, military and medical products and clients.
Bunting said space has become an issue at the facility, but there are no immediate plans to relocate. “We have a great work force, and we want to stay in the area,” he said.
Bunting said the company's growth is not coming from new customers. “It's coming from our existing customers who are coming to us for more business because of our track record,” he said.
Councilman Vance Phillips, R-Laurel, quizzed Bunting on the company's lease, which expires this year. Phillips said he felt uncomfortable allotting taxpayers' money to a company without a long-term lease.
Bunting said plans are to negotiate a long-term lease with the landlord and to also build a 10,000- square-foot or larger warehouse across the street from the current facility sometime in the future.
Phillips said he was more comfortable voting when the motion was amended to include that all jobs under the grant program must stay in Sussex County without a specific location listed.
Grayling relocating from Mexico
ILC Dover/Grayling is relocating from Juarez, Mexico, to the Seaford Industrial Park and plans to create at least 115 new jobs over the next two years, said Brad Walters, vice president of operations. The company is also moving its warehouse operations from El Paso, Texas, and Alpharetta, Ga., by 2015. Walters said the company wants its facilities in this country and near its headquarters in Frederica. About 400 people attended a recent job fair seeking employment at the new Seaford facility.
The company designs and produces plastic containment systems, including materials needed for asbestos containment.
Walters said the entire manufacturing facility would be moved, piece by piece, to Seaford at a cost of about $5 million. The Seaford facility consists of 40,000 square feet of production space and 50,000 square feet of warehouse space. Walter said Grayling had $25 million in sales last year.
Council was particularly pleased that jobs lost to Mexico were returning to the United States. “I’m glad to see something coming from Mexico instead of going there,” said Councilwoman Joan Deaver, D-Rehoboth Beach.
Phillips said he was reminded of a statement made by former Presidential candidate Ross Perot who said the county would hear “a large sucking sound” of jobs going south to Mexico because of the North American Free Trade Agreement which went into effect in 1994.
“The thought of bringing back jobs from Mexico does my heart well. I never thought I would live to see jobs come back,” Phillips said.
The grants are the county’s contribution to incentive packages that combine local and state funds to spur job growth, and help the businesses take root in Sussex County.
Funding for the grants comes through the Sussex County Economic Development Fund, which was established in 2004 to boost local projects and stimulate job creation.
Each applicant will be subject to a six-month audit by the county to track the progress of the grants and job creation, Webb said.