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Hetsco to add 40 jobs in move

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A Greenwood company plans to relocate to Franklin and expand, bringing 40 new jobs to the city over the next four years.

Hetsco Inc., which does routine and emergency maintenance and construction management and labor for power plants and industrial operations, will buy and move into Franklin’s shell building on Graham Road, which has been considered by multiple companies since construction started in spring 2013.

Since the walls and ceiling already are built, Hetsco will be able to open the new facility about six months faster than if it had to expand its current location or build a new facility, President and Chief Operating Officer Sam Willard said. The company has outgrown its headquarters off Pushville Road in Greenwood and wants to combine multiple leased offices into one location, Willard said.

Hetsco is the second company to announce new jobs in Franklin in the past week. Auto parts manufacturer Pridgeon and Clay plans to expand its building on Arvin Drive, creating 18 jobs.

The move will bring new, high-paying jobs to Franklin and allows the city to diversify its manufacturing base, Mayor Joe McGuinness said. Although the company will move from Greenwood, those jobs and workers will remain in the county, he said.

“We want to keep them here in the county regardless of where they locate, and those 49 or 50 jobs, and most of those people live in or around the county. It’s not a huge move logistically for them, but obviously it’s an exciting time for Franklin,” McGuinness said.

Hetsco’s move will allow the company to retain 49 current jobs and add 40 more. The current positions include managers and operators with pay ranging from $22 to $44 per hour, not including benefits, and new jobs would have an average wage of about $27 per hour, according to the documents filed with the city. The company anticipates hiring 10 workers each year through 2018 and will be a mix of shop workers such as welders and millwrights as well as professional positions including engineers and project managers, Willard said.

Hetsco has primarily specialized in repairing aluminum heat exchangers for customers in the energy sector, but in recent years there has been more interest in fabrication within the U.S. instead of overseas, Willard said. The company is leasing five locations in Greenwood, making communication among departments difficult. The business needs more space, too, due to the number of orders being processed each year, he said.

The company plans to buy and build out the 51,000-square-foot shell building. Hetsco is asking for 10-year tax breaks on $400,000 in equipment and $4 million for the land and building, which it would buy from developer Runnebohm Construction, the partner with the city in the construction of the shell building. If everything remains on schedule, the Franklin location would open in the first quarter of next year, Willard said.

“We looked at expanding the facility we have and we looked at the 9 acres south of the shell building and having that building done. Being able to move in six months earlier was really the deciding factor,” Willard said.

Members of the economic development commission and city council would need to approve the tax breaks. The city planning office has recommended approving the tax breaks, calling the project the type of development officials hoped to attract to the city and noting that the wages are higher than the county average, the document said.

The sale also will save the city tax money it has committed to spend on the shell building. Franklin planned to spend up to $100,000 for utilities, taxes and interest payments for the building this year and would have had to pay $450,000 for the 11 acres of land if the building wasn’t sold by September 2015.

City and county development officials expected the building to sell quickly because there aren’t many buildings that size available around the state. Because the building is essentially four walls and a roof, a company would need to customize it to their specific type of business, as Hetsco will do.

Having the shell building allowed Franklin to connect with multiple site selectors and companies that might not have otherwise looked at the city, McGuinness said. Although the building is being sold, the city made good contacts with other companies and can continue working with them to find available land or other facilities in the city that might fit their needs, he said.

“We would have missed the boat on the many leads if it wasn’t for that building. It drew some interest to Franklin from the site selection folks and developers,” McGuinness said.

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