City woos window manufacturer

Council approves incentives that would help Peerless Products acquire the old Haldex Brake facility. The Fort Scott-based company wants the facility to focus on a new line of commercial windows.

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September 15, 2020 - 10:56 AM

Iola has taken a “big” step forward in attracting a window manufacturer to town.

Iola City Council members approved Monday a series of incentives that would assist Peerless Products in acquiring the old Haldex Brake facility on North State Street.

The Fort Scott-based company is nearing a deal to acquire the facility at 2702 N. State St.

The Iola site would focus on a new line of commercial windows, said Lisse Regehr, chief executive officer of Thrive Allen County, which serves as Iola’s economic development agent. Thrive has been spearheading discussions with Peerless and Iola since June, Regehr noted.

After Haldex closed its doors, the building was reopened in 2013 by Endurance Lift Solutions. That company consolidated its production facilities elsewhere, ceasing operations in April.

Approving the incentives is one of the primary pieces in aiding the purchase, noted Regehr. To aid the acquisition, the city will offer three incentives:

— A 50% tax abatement for the next 10 years, contingent upon the company meeting hiring targets. They expect to launch with 10 to 20 full-time employees and gradually expand over five years to 100-120 employees. They anticipate salaries to be in the $30,000-$35,000 range.

— Iola would contribute $125,000 to assist with costs for upgrading the building, job training and adding technology infrastructure. The city’s contribution would come from its industrial fund.

— Peerless would remain eligible for other Neighborhood Revitalization Program incentives.

“As we talk about this, it’s not a done deal,” Regehr said, “but it’s another step forward in the process. It’s a much bigger step, but it doesn’t make it done.”

Peerless also is seeking state incentives through the Kansas Department of Commerce, Regehr noted. 

Peerless opened its doors in Fort Scott in 1952, and manufactures aluminum architectural and commercial windows for new construction, replacement and historical construction.

The company has about 400 employees in Fort Scott. The company also recently purchased a facility in Nevada, Mo.

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