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Progress Rails makes headway

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

The Peru Common Council voted to invest $250,000 into the Caterpillar-owned Peru manufacturer Progress Rails during their meeting Monday evening, further securing the company’s future in Miami County.

Monday’s meeting was the second time Miami County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Jim Tidd detailed the specifics of the investment the city would be making if they chose to approve funds, all of which would be pulled from the County Economic Development Income Tax Fund.

The funds, $250,000 of which are coming from the county and $250,000 of which are coming from the city through an interlocal agreement, will come in the form of a forgivable loan rather than a gift to the company.

“The proposal was that we would help them with the expense of moving equipment and helping them get out of a lease that they’re currently at at their facility over on Eighth Street with the tune of a $500,000 forgivable loan,” Tidd said.

The loan would then be divided over an eight year period with $62,500 allotted for the company each year, according to Tidd.

In return, the company would enter into a 14-year lease agreement, hire 20 additional employees while maintaining the 104 workers they already have and invest $1.5 million in new equipment.

The company would then be reviewed annually to make sure they are following their agreement with the city and county.

“If they are found not in compliance then they would basically have to pay back one year of that forgivable loan,” Tidd said.

Following the brief review of the proposal, councilwoman Cheryl Lee wanted reassurance the company would be entering into a 14-year lease agreement if they approved funds at which point Tidd put her worries to rest.

“They can always break the lease, but that pretty much gives us a good idea that they’re going to be in the community for another 14 years,” Tidd said. “Why wouldn’t they? They’ve had good success here.”

When it came time to vote, Council President Kurt Krauskopf made the motion to approve the funding with Vice Chairman Tom Gustin seconding the motion.

Following roll call, the motion was passed unanimously which means the project has had the $500,000 request fully funded by both entities.

The next step, according to Tidd, would be proposing Peru Mayor Gabe Greer execute an interlocal agreement between the city and the county and then execute a development agreement with Caterpillar.