By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Today through Wednesday are annually the busiest three days of the year for Jake’s Fireworks, but the nation’s top distributor of commercial fireworks paused for an hour this morning to cut a ribbon to mark a milestone in the history of the company and the city of Pittsburg.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony, held at the former Superior Industries building in the Pittsburg Industrial Park, was attended by elected national, state and local officials, Chamber of Commerce members, business leaders, representatives of Pittsburg State University and Jake’s family and employees.
“This Thursday, the Fourth of July, people throughout the country are going to celebrate their freedom, celebrate their patriotism, and millions of people are going to be shooting world class fireworks coast to coast because of Pittsburg, Kan., because of this community, because of all of you,” said Mick Marietta, the company’s chief executive officer and the grandson of its founders, during the ceremony.
Jake’s, which was founded by the Marietta family 80 years ago and has since expanded operations to six other states, purchased and began renovating the former Superior Industries building last year. The 500,000 square-foot facility on 48 acres in the Pittsburg Industrial Park had been vacant since Superior closed down operations in 2008.
The closure displaced nearly 600 employees.
Previously, Jake’s occupied about 100,000 square feet divided among three cramped buildings and 400 shipping containers in rural Pittsburg. City leaders worked on negotiations for nearly four years to keep Jake’s headquarters in Pittsburg. Had the Superior Industries purchase fallen through, the Marietta’s said Jake’s Fireworks would have had no choice but to move to another state that could accommodate its growing operations.
Last June, the Economic Development Advisory Committee recommended approval of a $700,000 loan at an interest rate of 3 percent on a three-year term with the stipulation that the company create five new jobs each year for three years and maintain its current 82 jobs.
“This is the American dream...” U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said as one of several officials to speak during the ceremony. He praised the family for its determination in building a successful business for themselves, for their descendents and for those they employ.
In addition to the corporate headquarters in Pittsburg, Jake’s operates distribution sites in Indiana, Washington, Texas, Kentucky and South Carolina.