The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

May 16, 2012

Jake’s Fireworks again interested in acquiring former Superior plant

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Representatives of Jake’s Fireworks and the city of Pittsburg are talking again about a deal that could help the company move into the former Superior Industries plant, which has been vacant for three years.

Company officials, wanting a larger site that would allow them to improve efficiency and possibly expand, looked at the Superior building last year, but negotiations with the owner of the building fell through in November.

Mark Turnbull, economic development director for the city, said the talks are in the preliminary stages. Jake’s representatives have been meeting with city officials about a loan from the city’s revolving loan fund, and about improvements the fireworks company would need to make at the plant to meet city codes.

During a presentation to the city last week, company officials said they are interested in applying for a $700,000 forgivable loan from the Pittsburg Economic Development Advisory Committee. They also plan to meet with the Board of Code Appeals to discuss fire safety requirements for the 500,000-square-foot factory.

The code board’s next meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. today.

The company has hired an expert on fire codes to analyze the building for safety issues, Jason Marietta, retail sales director for Jake’s, said last week. “I think we are very close,” he said.

The loan, if approved, would come from a fund generated by the city’s half-cent sales tax for economic development. Loan principal and interest can be forgiven if the applicant meets certain capital investment and job thresholds, which have yet to be discussed, Turnbull said.

The next meeting of the economic development panel is tentatively set for June 13.

The City Commission also must sign off on the deal.

“What we are trying to do is stimulate the economy using the existing businesses we have up and down Main Street,” Turnbull said.

City and company representatives were discussing the building last year, but negotiations ended. Marietta said the $3 million purchase price that Superior wanted was too high. Jake’s was seeking a $300,000 forgivable loan from the city at the time as part of the deal.

Superior Industries closed its plant in December 2008, putting more than 600 people out of work. The plant manufactured aluminum wheels for light trucks and SUVs.

In its loan application with the city last year, Jake’s said it needed to expand beyond its 100,000-square-foot headquarters, and that it would add as many as 15 jobs within two years if it took over the Superior plant.

METRO EDITOR ANDY OSTMEYER contributed to this report.

Jake’s locations

JAKE’S FIREWORKS has corporate headquarters in rural Pittsburg and nine distribution sites in eight states, including Oklahoma and Arkansas.

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