Keeping Ormet Facility Open

One of the very few large manufacturers left in the Ohio Valley, a region once an industrial powerhouse, filed for bankruptcy protection this week. It will not be easy for the firm to recover.

The Ormet Corp., with nearly 900 employees at its Hannibal aluminum plant, has been struggling for many months. Just a few days ago, it was revealed the company owes more than $1 million to the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. A few weeks before that, Ormet had to work out a deal to make monthly installment payments on about $27 million in electric bills.

Then, this week, news of the company’s bankruptcy filing hit.

Fortunately, the filing is under Chapter 11 of federal bankruptcy law, a statute designed expressly for companies attempting to gain breathing room so they can reorganize and remain in business.

In Ormet’s case, it has been reported a potential buyer may be interested in the local plant. We hope so. Should the Hannibal facility shut down, it would devastate Monroe County and harm surrounding counties badly. Ormet itself is a key to the local economy. Its workers are the very foundation of some communities.

In addition to skyrocketing costs for the electricity on which Ormet depends heavily, the company has had to cope with declining prices for aluminum, down about 9 percent during the past year. Some analysts predict a strong rebound by the end of this year, however.

It is unlikely either state or federal governments can do much to help Ormet, or encourage a buyer. Still, Ohio Gov. John Kasich should make helping the firm a top priority, simply because of its importance to East Ohio.