Otter lauds ON investment here
Governor says expansion shows ON’s commitment
POCATELLO — Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said a planned expansion at ON Semiconductor in Pocatello shows the continued commitment between the Phoenix-based company and the Southeast Idaho community.
Otter received a standing ovation from the crowd of about 350 community leaders and ON employees Tuesday. He commended workers at the manufacturing plant and said the investment into the community will be returned several times over.
“It’s not our job to choose winners,” Otter said. “It’s our job to provide support to companies like ON.”
Legislation passed last year enabled the planned $11 million expansion at the Pocatello plant that is expected to add 35 jobs to the payroll and bring the total number of workers to 700.
Bannock County granted a five-year, 50 percent reduction in the assessed value of new equipment, and the Idaho Department of Commerce and Idaho Department of Labor are contributing grants.
Arlen Wittrock, spokesman for ON Semiconductor, said the celebration was a way to recognize the partnership between the company, its employees and local officials.
Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad said two years ago when ON Semiconductor took over operations at the plant, its future in Pocatello was questionable.
But Blad said the partnership with ON and the expansion illustrates a commitment to private business in Pocatello.
Former Mayor Roger Chase recognized employees at ON Semiconductor and the crucial role they played in the expansion.
“We got to this point because of the workers,” he said. “I take my hat off to all the staff at ON.” ON site manager John Spicer, a native of Pocatello and a graduate of Idaho State University, said the company’s investment in Pocatello paid off.
“ON has a great future in Pocatello,” Spicer said. “We have the potential to become a manufacturing hub.”
Gynii Gilliam, executive director for the Bannock County Development Corporation said a willing work force is Southeast Idaho’s biggest asset. That, plus the low cost of doing business in the state will attract other businesses, she said.
Rep. Ken Andrus, of Lava Hot Springs, said tax incentives are needed to attract companies to Southeast Idaho.
“These companies come because the environment to accommodate them is here,” Andrus said. “It’s very competitive to attract companies that bring very many jobs to the area.”
Passed into law last March,. Rep. Diane Bilyeu - Pocatello, said House Bill 490, coupled with the success of ON Semiconductor will attract other businesses to Idaho.
“I knew the bill would create jobs, I didn’t know that Bannock County would be the first to take advantage of it,” Bilyeu said.
Steve Brown from Congressman Mike Simpson’s office, said when ON Semiconductor took over at the plant, the unavailability of an uninterrupted power source threatened the future of the company in Idaho.
But through a partnership with Idaho Power Company the problem was resolved.
“We were able to identify the problem and solve it,” Brown said. “It benefited ON and the entire community.”
ON Senior Vice President Bob Klosterboer said the company will ship 40 billion units this year — that’s about seven for everyone on the planet.
Klosterboer said the Pocatello plant is now one of the most cost-effective and efficient in the company’s broad network.
Bannock County Commissioner Larry Ghan congratulated the staff at ON Semiconductor for being able to weather the current economic storm.
“It’s wonderful to have a strong and growing company here and we look forward to the continued partnership.’’ Ghan said.
Bibiana Nertney with the Idaho Department of Commerce said ON’s success looks good to other companies considering relocating to the Gem state, and Roger Madsen, director of the Department of Labor, said with annual sales of $2 billion, ON Semiconductor offers good jobs with good benefits.
“Looking out on the city I see the Hoku Corporation and the expansion at PMC,” Madsen said. “There are good things going on in Pocatello.”