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Gelman Wins Financing For Florida Plant

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Gelman wins financing for Florida plant



Gelman Sciences Inc, has been granted nearly $6 million of favorable financing to build a new plant in Florida through a low-interest industrial revenue bond issued by Escambia County, the Florida panhandle region where the plant will be located

The interest rate of the bond is 7.98 percent. Gelman will pay only the interest for the first two years, and then will pay off the principal and interest over the following 13 years, according to the company.

The prime rate, which banks charge their biggest borrowers, is 10.5 percent.

Gelman Sciences revealed in January ; plans to relocate its primary manufacturing operation from Scio Township to the Pensacola area. The proposed 55,000-square-foot facility will turn out microporous membrane, the filtration material in virtually all of Gelman Sciences’ products, including laboratory filters, medical devices and industrial separators.

The company expects growth of its local operations to offset the loss of jobs to Florida, which could number 250 within 10 years, and has pledged not to reduce its 600-person workforce here.

William C. Emhiser, Gelman Sciences' president and chief operating officer, said the terms of the bond enables the firm to fund its Pensacola facility without having to utilize existing credit lines

The company had unused credit of approximately $9 million and long-term debt of $16.7 million as of July 31, 1988, the most recent figures available.

By building a new plant for membrane manufacturing in Florida, Gelman Sciences removes the operation that produced toxic chemicals which contaminated groundwater in the vicinity of the plant, including the water wells of some neighborhood residents who live near Gelman Sciences headquarters in Scio Township.

Gelman Sciences and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources have been locked in a bitter dispute for months over the extent of groundwater pollution around the company’s plant on Wagner Road.

On Wednesday, the DNR released a list of pollution sites that placed the Gelman site among the state’s top 30. The site has previously ranked as high as No. 2 on the DNR’s annual list.

Executives at Gelman Sciences have said the company’s pollution problems have nothing to do with plans to move the manufacturing operation.

“Because of our current and projected growth, and our geographic expansion into the southeastern U.S., South America and abroad, we think northwest Florida is an excellent location to supplement our Ann Arbor manufacturing and distribution operations,’’ said Emhiser.

The company has said building the Florida plant will free up space here to expand its medical device assembly operation.