By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
A Portsmouth businessman working to bring a large energy and steel plant to Franklin Furnace says the project is still on the radar and could, if all parties come together, be started within months.
Developer Jeff Albrecht said a meeting of the Thursday morning “think tank” was well-attended by local government officials, business leaders, State Rep. Dr. Terry Johnson, John W. Schultes, chairman and CEO of New Steel Inc., New Steel Controller Richard L. Keleman, and other interested citizens.
Albrecht said progress depends on several things, including finding a power company to purchase excess electricity produced by the plant. Officials met last week with representatives of AEP Ohio in an attempt to sell the power to that company.
New Steel also needs $200,000 to do a Hatch Study, which is a comprehensive investigation of the proposed project that would be beneficial for banks and other lending institutions to look at for potential investment. A Hatch Study looks at the product, the market for that product, the viability to make that product efficiently and market it competitively. They also look at the rate of return for investors.
“I’ve met with them (New Steel) numerous times, and listened to their story numerous times,” Albrecht said. “I’ve met with (Scioto County Commissioner) Tom (Reiser), Terry Johnson. I’ve heard everybody’s side of the story, and, first of all, I think it is a good investment, and I am personally going to put in some money into that $200,000. I personally decided to do that. I think some time it will be a good investment. But more than that, I’m investing in our community. I’m investing in the jobs. It’s a chance for jobs we so dearly need. I’m investing in our people, because we’re deserving of it.”
Other members of the business community have also indicated they will invest in the Hatch Study to help move the project ahead.
Albrecht said during the meeting the two saddest days in his life were when his two sons graduated from college and had to leave the area to find employment. He said he now has two daughters he hopes will be able to find work locally if jobs become available in the community.
“So I want to do something, and it is risky money, and it’s like going to the racetrack and betting a longshot,” Albrecht said. “If it pays off, it’s going to pay off big. But in the meantime, I am standing up for my community. And I am trying to do something to bring jobs here. And I feel like after seeing the numbers and looking at all the presentation, I feel like it’s worth a shot.”
Albrecht said the project has come to the point that every segment of local and state government and members of the community become involved in working together to bring the facility to fruition.
“For so long, people in government in other areas of the state have taken advantage of us,” Albrecht said. “So that’s why I’m doing this.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.