Basic plant inventories not being allowed yet while business operations cease

When 2017 transitions into 2018, one of the new year's compelling questions in Hannibal will be: How long will the Buckhorn and ContiTech (Cosmoflex) buildings stand empty before new manufacturers move in and set up shop?

George Walley, executive director of the Northeast Missouri Economic Development Council (NEMO EDC), believes both plants will generate a good deal of interest.

“Those are going to be very marketable buildings,” he said. “The ContiTech building has a dual railroad spur, which is in very high demand.”

After a period when equipment was steadily being moved out of the Buckhorn building, last week appeared to possibly mark the final one for a majority of the few employees who remained on Buckhorn's payroll.

At the nearby ContiTech facility work continues and reportedly could go on for several months.

“State sources have informed me that ContiTech may continue operations well into the summer of 2018,” said Walley during the November and December meetings of the NEMO EDC.

Although there have been inquiries regarding the availability of both properties, neither company has given Walley the “green light” to begin marketing its site. Until that happens Walley's hands are essentially tied.

“We have approached both those companies and have informed them that we are ready and willing to market their buildings,” he said in June. “But those are private buildings. We can't market them until they allow us to market them.”

Thus far not even an inventory of the facilities, which is a preliminary step to marketing the buildings, has been permitted. Inventories include such basic information as square footage and layout of rooms.

“Until they're willing to do that we can't market them specifically on the state's database, Location One,” said Walley.

Location One, or LOIS, is a site and building inventory system that is used by Missouri and 34 other states. According to Walley, the state uses the database to respond and market to incoming requests for information.

Walley advised the NEMO EDC in December that LOIS, which has been redesigned, has the capability of holding inventory data about the ContiTech and Buckhorn properties in storage until the companies gave the OK to release it, at which time it could be posted at the “flip of a switch.”

While it may appear no headway is being made on the marketing front in regards to Buckhorn, there could be progress being made behind the scenes, according to Walley.

“Buckhorn contacts have indicated they are pursuing an industrial broker and will let us know when they are ready to go on the market,” he said in December at the NEMO EDC meeting.

Regarding the ContiTech plant, Walley says its marketing is “on hold until the company is ready for that step.”

Zhongding Sealing Parts, Buckhorn's parent company, announced in February that it would close its Hannibal plant by year's end. The facility employed 119 people.

In early May, ContiTech, the owner of Cosmoflex, revealed its intent to cease production at its Hannibal location. That decision will eliminate 45 jobs.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com