Contributed

Italian buyer could bring area factory back to life

A Piqua factory could come back to life thanks to an Italian company considering purchasing the property.

Orr Felt Company shut down two years ago after more than a century-long run, but now there’s an interested buyer that is seeking state incentives to re-start operations.

Justin Sommer, Piqua assistant city manager, said it was too early to go into detail about the project, but the interested buyer is from the same industry as Orr Felt, which once made the felt required for paper manufacturing.

RELATED: Piqua company goes out of business after 100 years

“It really couldn’t have been a more perfect fit for that building,” Sommer said.

Sommer said the new company could create an estimated 20 to 25 new jobs and bring the well known 300,000-square-foot factory back in operation.

The proposed buyer is seeking incentives from JobsOhio, the state’s private development arm, to move the project forward.

Orr Felt has at one point more than 200 employees but was down to a staff of about 25 when the closing was announced in 2016.

Sommer said there are still a lot of sentimental feelings about Orr and the well-known factory building, so the city officials are “obviously excited” to have a new user that’s interested and from the same industry.

“The building is a pretty iconic building,” he said.

Orr Felt dates back to the mid-1800s, and during WWII it made more than a quarter million blankets and sleeping bags for the armed forces.

At the time that Orr closed, the president of the union that represented the employees said the company was forced to go out of business because more people are using digital documents instead of the traditional paper, and China sells its paper cheap.

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