After moving from the Chicago area to Norwalk five years ago, Jiffy Products of America will close down its local operation and move 21 jobs to Lorain by next summer.
"We've expanded and grown. We're going to move because we don't like our current lease deal," Jiffy President Daniel Schrodt said. The company will move from its current location on Industrial Parkway to the former Ford Assembly Plant on Baumhart Road.
Jiffy Products uses two buildings in Norwalk with a total of 70,000 square feet and the Ford plant has 100,000 square feet under one roof.
Lorain City Council approved a $125,000 forgivable loan for the company. According to the agreement approved Monday night, the loan will be forgiven after 10 years if the company maintains at least 21 employees and a $1.25 million payroll.
If the company downsizes, a lower percentage of the loan will be forgiven.
Norwalk agreed in 2003 to give Jiffy Products an enterprise zone tax abatement as an incentive to move operations from Illinois to Norwalk, but the company never filed the necessary paperwork with the county auditor's office to take advantage of the abatement once the move was made.
The company also was granted a job creation tax abatement from the state, but Schrodt said the company never participated in that program.
Several Norwalk officials said they were surprised by the announcement of Jiffy Products' move, but Norwalk Economic Development Director Bethany Dentler said she had been talking to company officials since April.
Dentler explained that her office does not make any decisions public until a company is ready to make a formal announcement.
Diane Eschen, finance director for Norwalk, confirmed that Jiffy Products did not take advantage of tax abatement in the city's program. But she said there was never any discussion about the company leaving the community.
"I did not get that impression at all," Eschen said.
Dwight Tkach, council member, said he was hates to see the city losing an employer. "You're always disappointed when you lose any jobs in the city," he said.
"This will be a learning experience and something we have to look at in the future," he added.
"I hate to see them go," said Council President Steve Euton. "It definitely shows the importance of working with businesses."
Schrodt said he liked the community of Norwalk, but the company would benefit from the move. "There are some local things I don't care for," he said, but refused to detail any specific complaints. "We have been a very good corporate citizen."
Jiffy Products makes pellets that expand when wet to provide moisture for plants.