July 25, 2016

Partly cloudy

Senator makes a business call

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, speaks to GrafTech International employees Friday at the company's new manufacturing facility in Sharon Township. (KIERA MANION-FISCHER / GAZETTE)

SHARON TWP. — A manufacturer of parts that end up in cell phones, tablets and flat-screen televisions celebrated the opening of a new factory in Medina County.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, spoke at ribbon-cutting ceremony for GrafTech International’s 125,000-square-foot facility in Sharon Township.

“I’m sure Medina County is happy to have another expanding employer,” he said.

Portman also used his time at the podium to stress the need for federal regulatory and corporate tax reform.

“Washington is not doing what we should be doing, that is creating an environment for success,” he said.

The Sharon Township plant employs 45 people.

GrafTech CEO Craig Shular said he expects that number to grow to 50 by the end of the year. A similar production facility in Lakewood has expanded as much as possible, he said.

“We have grown that facility as big as it can get, hence the need to come to Sharon,” Shular said.

Growth in GrafTech’s Engineered Solutions division can be attributed to the high demand for smaller and thinner tablets and cell phones, he said.

The Sharon Township factory produces thin sheets of graphite material that are used to dissipate heat from microchips within the devices.

Shular said the product is about 20 microns thick, or about one-fifth of a strand of human hair.

“The products here go into some of the latest generation of advanced consumer electronics,” he said.

The company will receive a $140,000 job creation tax credit from JobsOhio over five years. GrafTech has 20 manufacturing facilities around the world and employs about 3,000.

Portman also stopped by Westfield Insurance’s headquarters Friday in Westfield Center, where he met with local business, higher education and health-care leaders, and answered questions from employees.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.