$30 million for Anchor

Anchor Hocking will invest $30 million over the next three years in its Lancaster facility, including the rebuilding of Tank 2.

Mayor Art Wallace was expected to make the announcement of the investment during the annual State of the City address this morning.

"Intensive and substantive discussions began in January about the project," said David Zak, Fairfield County economic development director.

"We are pleased with the cooperation of all parties involved in putting this sensitive agreement together and helping make this location more cost-competitive," said Anchor Hocking President David Reed in a news release. "We look forward to continued cooperation and having Anchor Hocking continue to grow here in Lancaster."

Tank 2, one of three large production kilns used to make glass products at the Lancaster plant, was shut down at the end of last year. About 175 employees were laid off as a result.

"With the prospect of Anchor Hocking possibly relocating its distribution facility to another state, and the further reduction of jobs at the Lancaster plant, the city of Lancaster and Fairfield County Economic Development Director David Zak, with the cooperation of the Lancaster City Schools, have come to a tentative agreement with Anchor Hocking to keep and expand the current operations in Lancaster," said a joint news release from Lancaster, Fairfield County, Lancaster City Schools and Anchor Hocking.

The proposed agreement includes making the Anchor Distribution Center part of the Foreign Trade Zone at the Rock Mill Industrial Park. The Lancaster Area Community Improvement Corporation will modify the boundaries of the tax-free zone to include the distribution center and lower Anchor's inventory tax bill.

The agreement would extend a 100 percent Enterprise Zone tax abatement on the company's new investment. City schools would receive 25 percent reimbursement from a state incentive program.

"Sometimes it is an initial sacrifice that leads to greater security," said Tom Maher, superintendent of Lancaster City Schools, in the news release.

The school district will be giving up almost $50,000 per year in tax revenue.

"The retention of jobs for members of this community whose children and grandchildren attend the city schools is more important in the long run," Maher said.

Mayor Art Wallace, who retired from Anchor Hocking before running for mayor in 1991, gave credit to the schools for reaching the agreement.

"The leadership of our city and county, especially the Lancaster City Schools, has allowed us to negotiate a level of job retention and development for the betterment of our community," Wallace said.

County Commissioner Jon Myers and Lancaster City Council President Steve Davis praised the amount of cooperation between the city, county and Anchor Hocking as key to the proposed agreement.

"It has been rewarding to see the cooperation of government entities working together to secure our economic future," Myers said in the news release.

"The cooperation between our council, the city administration and county economic developer David Zak has been tremendous," Davis said. "The county has stepped up to help out with this job retention.

The announcement today comes after a year of disappointing events for Anchor Hocking.

In June, the planned purchase of Anchor Hocking by Libbey Inc. from Newell Rubbermaid Inc., fell through following opposition by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC maintained the purchase would concentrate too much of the lead glass industry into the hands of Libbey.

In July, the company eliminated 45 salaried and clerical positions at the Lancaster plant and in December the announcement came they would be shutting down Tank 2 and eliminating another 175 jobs.

Davis and Zak said more details of the agreements are still being negotiated and the details will be released later.

Lancaster City Council is expected to have the first reading on the proposal Monday with the Lancaster Board of Education voting on the proposal at its Feb. 27 meeting. The Fairfield County Commissioners anticipate having the issue before them sometime in March.

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