"It takes everyone working together," was the simple message Gary Norman brought before the 2012 annual meeting of the Ripley County Economic Development where he serves as the executive director.
The event took place Tuesday, November 10 at the Sunman American Legion where a good crowd gathered to support the successes of the economic development and to welcome a new business, Solarzentrum North America (SZNA) to Osgood.
Norman said he remembered his first telephone conversations with Reinhard Peter, who along with his wife, Christine, own SZNA.
While Norman said Reinhard mixes a few German words from his homeland in his well spoken English, he said he learned to focus on the conversation at hand realizing the Peters were offering to bring a first class act to the county – one that will bring over 100 jobs.
The couple has already moved into the Osgood area and have a small version of a larger company already in operation in Osgood. They have hired six employees.
SZNA serves as the sole North American distributor and manufacturer for the PV-Therm module – which combines the benefits of a thermal solar collector and a PV module in one single entity. This provides heating, cooling and electricity to a facility or residential home, all at the same time.
The company, which will eventually be located in the Osgood Business Park, will produce both the PV-Therm module and high efficiency photovoltaic PV modules.
Osgood Town Board President Linda Krinop welcomed SZNA to Osgood. She said, "We are so pleased to have you in Osgood, all of Ripley County will be blessed."
The town board, along with their economic development representative, Brenda Wetzler, has worked tirelessly toward this goal and were very vocal in expressing their thanks for all the help they received.
Reinhard was also thankful saying of the board members, "If you need help - they are there." He said he looks forward to growing together with the new community he has made his home. "We can only do it together," he noted, telling the crowd they want to be able to give back to the community.
Reinhard's son, Andreas, who is also involved in building the business, spoke at the event as well. He said he has lived in three countries reflecting as many cultural influences. He said when everyone works together…things move forward. He and wife, Carla, now live in New Mexico, but will soon join his parents in the Osgood area.
Andreas said although they are moving from a large city to such a small place, they look at it as a very positive move. "We are moving from the desert to green," he laughed.
Rene' Adam and Benno Nieberle were at the economic development dinner meeting with the Peters. They bring their German expertise in helping with set-up for SZNA.
While SZNA was featured at the annual event, Norman also told the crowd about other positives in economic development in the past year.
Norman noted that Concepts Industrial, a company in Sunman, has expanded adding 25 new full-time employees. "They are a huge asset to Sunman," Norman said as he urged everyone to check out the outer façade of the old Pri-Pak building where the new company is located.
Concepts is a distributor and asset company that deals primarily with large automotive component manufacturers including General Motors, Ford and Chrysler Corp.
Norman talked about the Welcome Center located in Versailles on US 50 where the Ripley County Economic Development office is housed. He said due to the overwhelming success of visitors to the facility, the decision was made to do an acquisition of the building.
"Thanks to a grant we received from the Rising Sun Community Foundation and a loan from The Napoleon State Bank, we were able to purchase the property." He went on to say others with offices in the building continue to pay rent with the money going to equity.
The Ripley County Chamber of Commerce and Ripley County Tourism Bureau are also in the Welcome Center building. Both Amy Thomas, executive director of the chamber and Katherine Taul, executive director of tourism, were in attendance at the meeting, with Norman recognizing them for their support.
Norman thanked everyone in attendance for their interest and support of economic development in the county. He continues to work every lead that could bring business and growth to the county and to expand beyond the tradition "box thinking" to make Ripley County not only an attractive place for businesses, but for people such as the Peters to move in and become integrated in the community.
Ripley County Economic Development Corp. can be reached by phone at 689-4344 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
K&H Fine Foods Catering, Sunman, provided a meal from appetizers to desserts that had people coming back for seconds and taking some home.