Portman tours BASF; plant announces $25 million expansion

GREENVILLE – Ohio Senator Rob Portman was in Greenville Friday to tour the BASF facility and meet with a group of employees and plant managers.

“We had a great visit,” Portman said, noting BASF was a “great example of an Ohio employer that’s competing all around the world.”

The Greenville BASF plant is about to undergo a $25 million expansion within its existing structure, to add process equipment and control system updates, explained David Wynn, plant manager.

Wynn said the expansion is expected to begin during the second quarter of 2018, with start up to begin in early 2019.

The expansion will add between 10-12 jobs, Wynn said, with hopes of expanding the company’s customer base as well.

Currently, BASF employs 150 in its Greenville plant.

“We were honored to have the senator here,” Wynn said, pointing out BASF has had the support of both Portman and Sen. Sherrod Brown as it continues to provide jobs in Darke County.

During his tour, Portman said he discussed trade, energy and skills training, which manufactures chemical coatings used in the automotive industry.

During a brief meeting with reporters following the tour, Portman also discussed upcoming negotiations by lawmakers on NAFTA (North American  Free Trade Agreement), which are due to resume  when Congress convenes after its current recess following Labor Day.

Portman said he believes NAFTA should be re-negotiated, but not completely done away with.

A portion of Ohio companies such as BASF do business with Mexico and Canada, Portman said. “As we negotiate NAFTA we don’t want to lose companies there.”

Portman also said he’d like to see the U.S. put more pressure on China in order to “level the playing field” and force them to “play by the rules.”

Two other topics Portman touched on was his opinion of the recent incidents regarding the nation’s Confederate monuments and healthcare reform.

“This is our country’s history,” he said of the effort to remove Civil War monuments, but believes “we have to focus on how to unite, not divide.” Portman said he believes “we have to be clear about condemning bigotry” along with Nazi and white supremacy groups. He also said local governments should make the final decisions concerning such monuments in their communities.

On healthcare, Portman said he’s concerned especially for Ohio’s small businesses who are spending a large amount of their bottom dollar for employee healthcare.

“I’m not giving up,” he said regarding repealing and replacing Obamacare. “We came within one vote.”

Current healthcare policies “are not good for Darke County, not good for small businesses. I know we can do better and have more competition; get costs down.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Greenville’s BASF plant conducted a facility tour on Friday for Senator Rob Portman. Above, plant manager David Wynn, left, poses with Portman following the tour. (Susan Hartley photo)

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