New manufacturing

The former Walmart store at 1851 Oakwood Ave., Napoleon, which has been vacant for 18 years, was believed to be home to a new light manufacturing facility, but now the company is looking at other sites.

While Napoleon is still technically in the running for a new medical equipment manufacturer to locate here, the company is also now considering other sites.

In July, the Napoleon Planning Commission recommended approval of a conditional use permit for Axis LED, a manufacturer of LED lights, to move into the former Wal-Mart building on Oakwood Avenue to make N-95 masks. The commission met in special session to make the recommendation, and council met in special session 30 minutes later to approve the recommendation.

However, upon further reflection, it seems the company may feel the move to the Napoleon site may cost too much and take too long.

“Initially, they were pretty adamant the city was it,” said Henry County Community Improvement Corp. (CIC) April Welch. “Now we are in competition with a couple of other sites that are not in Henry County.”

She added the CIC is still working with Jobs Ohio and the Toledo/Lucas County Port Authority to try to make the project happen here, but the scope of the work needed on the building, and time, may be the main obstacles.

“I think it has a lot to do with the site preparation,” Welch said.

She added while she believes company officials had been in the building, there had not been any contractor quotes on work to be done there yet. Now that they have those, and considering the sterile environment that would be needed to make N-95 masks, other sites are being considered.

“I think it’s not just the scope of the work, but there’s a time factor, too,” Welch said.

“As of today, we are not ruled out, but they are evaluating their options,” she added.

Welch also said Axis did not have an actual contract for the building at the time of the announcement in July.

At the time of the special meetings, city and company officials alike said the company was locating in the building, which had been vacant for at least 18 years.

It was said during the meeting the company was moving equipment into its Defiance location but hoped to be moving into the Napoleon site within 45-60 days and beginning production.

Eventually, the business was expected to create 400-500 jobs, working three shifts.

Welch said she has fielded at least one other inquiry recently for a building the size of the former Wal-Mart building, and that business would not require as much work to be done to the site.

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I started at the Northwest Signal in 1994 and became editor in 2004. I graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1994.

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