A Canadian company that manufactures commercial air-conditioning and heating units plans to build a factory in northeast DeSoto that ultimately will employ 250 people.
The firm, Airtex Inc., is based in Calgary, Alberta, and plans to begin construction on the plant after an environmental study of the proposed building site is completed. Plans call for the study to be completed in about two weeks and for the plant to open in early 1991.
DeSoto Mayor Jim Beadle said today that city officials attracted the large company to DeSoto by offering a 10-year, 100 percent tax abatement plan. Beadle also said the city has offered to apply for a low-interest $112,000 loan from the Kansas Department of Commerce to move a sewer and extend a water main to the proposed building site.
BEADLE SAID the sewer line runs through the middle of the building site. The idea behind that sewer line's location was that more than one smaller business would locate near the line and that each would hook into it. Airtex, however, is a much larger company that plans to erect its large plant on top of the sewer line, he said.
"We thought we might get a couple of small businesses. We didn't know we would get one nice, big one," Beadle said.
The first phase of construction calls for a $2 million, 33,000-square-foot plant, which will be expanded to nearly 100,000 square feet during the next five years.
Beadle said company officials hope to break ground in late September or early October and plan to open the new plant in March 1991.
Airtex initially will hire about 60 employees for jobs ranging from non-skilled laborers to technicians and engineers. Eventually, 250 people will be brought on board as the plant expands, Beadle said.
THE 15-ACRE plant site is at 3200 W. 83rd St., just north of the Kill Creek Bridge on the west side of the road, the mayor said.
City officials learned about Airtex's search for a plant site through the state Department of Commerce, Beadle said. He struck up a correspondence with company officials, who eventually came to town, and the deal finally was made.
A Lawrence Chamber of Commerce representative said Airtex did consider Lawrence as a plant site. Bill Martin, director of economic development for the chamber, and Gary Toebben, chamber president, were not available this morning for further comment on the role Lawrence played in Airtex's decision.
Beadle said he naturally was pleased to hear of Airtex's decision to build in DeSoto because of what it means for the community.
"THIS IS a perfect type of business because they are going to send only two or three people to run the plant. The rest will be hired locally," Beadle said. "This will be first time that we will have a large non-public employer in DeSoto. The largest employer in town is the school district and the second is Sunflower (Army Ammunition Plant)," he said.
"Because of this, I would say there will be an increase of $1 million to $1.5 million of new money turning over in the community," he said.
Airtex officials told Beadle they are building the new plant, their first in the United States, to establish more of a presence in this country.