PI EDC works deal with Moran Iron Works

ROGERS CITY – The Presque Isle County Economic Development Corporation is hammering out the final details for a project to bring more jobs and economic development to the county.

After Moran Iron Works received a $2 million performance grant in January, EDC Director Joe Libby told county commissioners he’s negotiating a municipal lease for a crane to be used at the Port of Calcite. The county will buy the crane and lease it to Moran, with the grant paying for the crane in part and the lease payments covering the rest.

The county and the EDC have been approved for financing for the crane, and over the next several days Libby will work to get the final details in place, he said. After he spoke at the county commissioners meeting, he returned to a conference call to discuss finishing the project. Putting the deal together in a way that works for all parties has been “very, very complicated.”

“It seems like there’s a new hurdle every day, but we’re getting there,” he said.

By getting involved in the public-private partnership, the county has helped bring an expensive piece of equipment to the Port of Calcite, Commissioner Robert Schell said.

“If the bank bought the crane and leased it directly to Moran, the payments would be $40,000 a month,” he said. “By the county being involved until the grant money comes in, they’re advertising it down to $20,000 a month for 24 months. By then we’ll have $2 million of it paid off.”

Moran Iron Works will add 75 jobs to its current 89 employees by the end of 2014 as part of the performance grant agreement, according to a press release. The company will make dock and facility improvements at Calcite, as well as expanding its Onaway facility to make larger metal modular components.

While Moran is committed to the lease for 10 years, the county will be committed one year at a time, Libby told commissioners the county will be obligated for one year at a time. That agreement is automatically renewed unless the county backs out.

“Our total exposure as it relates to financing the crane will be 12 months of commitment, and then we could back away from that,” he said.

Commissioner Steve Lang said he was relieved to hear the county, and county taxpayers, only would be obligated for holding the debt for one year at a time.

Lang also said while Moran Iron Works is located just over the Cheboygan County border, the grant and the company’s investment will bring economic growth to the entire region, especially Rogers City.

Libby said Moran will be insuring the crane and paying for its maintenance. Board Chair Carl Altman asked about insurance after hearing of an incident where the crane currently at Calcite tipped over.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688.