An oil blending company that is developing a new biodegradable oil is moving into a Franklin building that’s been vacant for more than three years.
Trueblood Oil has outgrown a location near Terre Haute, so it’s moving its manufacturing operations to Franklin. The company wanted to be more centrally located in the Midwest close to the interstate and wanted a building with an overhead crane, officials said.
Franklin had all three. The company hopes to move into the former Electro-Spec building, 3070 RJ Parkway, by summer and grow during the next few years, Trueblood vice president and head of operations Alan Ballard said.
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The new business would have an immediate benefit by filling a long-empty building in the city and bringing some new jobs to the area, Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness said. Although Trueblood would start small in Franklin, the company could grow and generate more taxes and jobs in the future, he said.
The company plans to spend about $1.3 million to buy 20 10,000-gallon tanks to hold oil, pipes to connect the tanks and catwalks for employees. Trueblood will start with four employees but would add five new positions in the next five years. The new jobs would have an hourly wage of about $13 per hour, which is significantly below the county’s manufacturing average of $24 per hour, according to a Franklin staff report.
The project is eligible for a special vacant building tax deduction, since the facility has been empty since Electro-Spec moved to a larger location on Commerce Parkway in 2012. That tax break allows Electro-Spec to pay nothing in property taxes on the building for three years. Trueblood Oil will lease the building and has an option to buy at any time. It’s the first time Franklin is utilizing the vacant building incentive for a project.
The company also requested a five-year tax break on the equipment it is buying. Franklin will not collect about $136,000 in taxes during the five years, due to the tax breaks.
The economic development commission approved both incentives by a 4-0 vote. Board member John Ditmars did not vote because he has a working relationship with Trueblood Oil. The tax breaks now must be approved by the city council before going into effect.
Trueblood Oil, headquartered in Farmersburg about 15 miles south of Terre Haute, has been in business for 40 years. It blends oils and also distributes Shell and Phillips 66 products. Moving to Franklin will allow the company to grow its manufacturing business and have better access to interstates to distribute to customers in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky, said Ballard, who is from Columbus.
The company is working on a patent for a new biodegradable oil, which could lead to some future growth manufacturing the new product, Ballard said.
“With the new technology and stuff, we anticipate growing. And being centrally located, if we outgrow that facility — and we hope we do — there is a lot of good places around to expand,” Ballard said.
The new business helps fill one of Franklin’s older industrial vacancies, which are tough to find tenants for because the buildings were set up for previous companies and need to be retrofitted for new uses, Johnson County Development Corp. president and chief executive officer Cheryl Morphew said.
Morphew had promoted the building to several companies, but it wasn’t the right fit. Trueblood Oil worked because it didn’t need a large space and really wanted a building that already had an overhead crane, which the RJ Parkway facility does, she said.
McGuinness said the city will begin offering the vacant building incentive more often to help attract new businesses to the city. The mayor has offered a similar tax break to a biotechnology firm that is planning to move into downtown.
Trueblood isn’t a large company, but the mayor hopes the tax break will allow it to get started and then expand, adding more positions and equipment in Franklin, he said.
“It’s not a lot of jobs, but it is jobs and jobs moving in from another area. It gives them a lot of potential to grow around here. There is not a lot of direct competition. I’m happy that there is a tenant filling that building,” McGuinness said.