ALBION — A rural Kendallville company is bringing a first-of-its-kind manufacturing opportunity to Noble County.

Brown & Sons received a nine-year tax abatement from the Noble County Council on Oct. 7 on $461,000 in equipment to begin manufacturing diesel exhaust fuel at an abandoned building at the intersection of U.S. 6 and C.R. 150E in Brimfield.

To meet the federal government’s Clean Air Act emissions standards, all new diesel vehicles must have a system to inject the diesel exhaust fuel into its exhaust. The diesel exhaust fuel removes harmful particles that otherwise would be emitted.

With the new exhaust system, Brown & Sons’ Jay Brown told the council that 88 new semi trucks create the same level of pollutants as one older-model semi.

Brown is selling the diesel exhaust fuel at his local gas stations in the area. The problem for the company was it has to haul the exhaust fuel from Lima, Ohio, the closest holding facility. According to Brown, it’s a 200-mile round trip.

Brown will receive the raw materials involved in the process by rail, then manufacture the finished product at the Brimfield location. It will then be distributed to retail locations.

Brown told the council he would like to have the process up and running by this time next year. It could create 20 new jobs, according to terms of the abatement, which will see the tax burden on the equipment phased in at 11% increments each year through the nine-year term.

There are 25 other manufacturing operations that currently make diesel exhaust fuel, but Brown’s will be the first independently owned manufacturer. The other 25 are owned by two separate companies.

Brown said he has been contemplating such a move as far back as 2008, but the holdup was the location. Brown & Sons worked with the Noble County Economic Development Corp. to find a building that was large enough, and that also had access to a rail line.

“It fit what they needed,” Noble County EDC Executive Director Rick Sherck said. “He’s on the cutting edge of something that’s bigger than you think.”

Brown’s equipment will be able to manufacture 165,000 gallons in a seven-hour period of diesel exhaust fuel, under the trademark of Pure DEF, but he said production will likely be at a lower level.

The Brimfield site will also have a 500,000-gallon storage tank, making it the largest storage facility in the nation, Brown said.

The county council was on board with the abatement, with the only discussion taking place concerning the time limit. Brown & Sons, through Region III-A, had requested a 10-year abatement.

“This is a really unique opportunity,” Region III-A’s Matt Brinkman told the council. “This will be an independent operation.”

According to the abatement matrix set up by the county council, which includes factors such as employee retention as well as new hires, the project only merited a nine-year term.

“It’s hard for me to step away from (the matrix),” Councilman Jerry Jansen said.

Councilman George Bennett agreed, saying it was his belief the council should be consistent when granting abatements.

“This is an exciting project,” Bennett said.

Jansen made the motion to grant the nine-year abatement. Councilman Tom Janes provided the second.

The measure passed unanimously.

Also at the meeting, the council also adopted its 2020 budget, with approximately $14 million in general fund expenditures. The overall county budget is $26.7 million. Most county employees will see a 2.8% raise in 2020, according to the adopted budget.

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