There was good news and bad news on the Delaware employment front last week as one local company announced the addition of jobs and another prepared for layoffs.
Liberty Casting plans to add 52 employees at its Liberty Road site after receiving state tax credits, the company reported last week. Meanwhile, Emerson Electric Power announced it would lay off 63 workers at its Pittsburgh Drive manufacturing plant.
The state last week approved a five-year, 45 percent tax credit for Liberty Casting ahead of an expansion project expected to add about $2 million in payroll. The firm currently employs 150 and has a payroll of about $6.5 million.
Liberty Casting President Tom James said market conditions are right for the foundry to add employees.
"We've seen an upturn in business and overall demand for the products we're making," he said.
James said he hoped to have employees in place at the new facility in 2015. He said the expansion continues a positive trend for the company, which grew from 100 employees to 150 during the past decade.
Sean Hughes, Delaware's economic development coordinator, said the expansion will take place at the former Hydro Conduit Corp. manufacturing site, located just south of Liberty Casting's current facility. The additional employees will work at a subsidiary that will be called Liberty Technology.
"For all intents and purposes, it was really a new company to us," Hughes said.
Liberty Casting is a foundry that currently manufactures gray, ductile and high-alloy cast iron.
Hughes said the current site focuses on smaller, custom projects, while the new site will allow Liberty Casting to branch out into higher-volume production.
"It's a completely new process for them," he said. "It's a much more environmentally friendly process."
Hughes said the company's current process meets environmental standards, but the new process will allow it to use water in place of the chemicals used in the casting process at the older facility.
James said the new process will widen the range of products and sizes the foundry can make.
"This is just going to take us to the next level," he said.
The expansion and modernization at the 17.3-acre Hydro Conduit site is expected to cost more than $4 million. James said that money would go toward renovating the plant and buying new equipment.
Liberty Casting purchased the Hydro Conduit site in April 2013 for $900,000, according to the Delaware County Auditor's Office. James said the plan to expand was not yet in place when the site was purchased.
Liberty Casting is the second manufacturer to announce plans to add dozens of jobs in Delaware in the past month. Officials at AHK Ohio, which makes parts for Honda, told Delaware City Council in mid-February it planned to add 50 or more workers after an expansion of its Stover Road facility is completed.
Hughes said the two expansion projects could be seen as evidence of a strengthening economy. He added that predictions of the death of manufacturing in the Midwest are proving to be premature.
"Quite honestly, we're seeing a reversal of that trend," he said.
Hughes said rising labor costs in developing nations and quality concerns are leading more corporations to create or reshore jobs in the U.S.
One local company, however, has decided to move its operations to Mexico.
Emerson Electric Power announced recently it would lay off 63 employees at its Delaware facility.
In a letter to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services dated Feb. 28, the firm notified the state of its intention to move operations from the facility to a plant in Mexico.
"This is an extremely difficult decision and we hope you understand that this action is being taken strictly due to business economics," Emerson Human Resources Manager Melissa Wiess wrote in the letter.
Emerson said it will start reducing operations at the site June 30 and tentatively will close in September.
Emerson Network Power, a subsidiary of the Emerson Electric Co., manufactures industrial power-supply units, surge protectors and other products.