http://www.cantonrep.com/index.php?ID=386865&Category=9&subCategoryID=0 CANTON A Montana company that manufactures high-grade rifles is opening a facility on Mulberry Road SE, with plans to hire 45 employees during the next three years. Cooper Firearms of Montana manufactures bolt-action rifles sold in 180 retail outlets in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and other states, including Hawaii and Alaska. Cooper produces rifles for target practice and hunting. The Canton Community Improvement Corp. approved a $125,000 deferred economic development loan Thursday for the project. The five-year loan works as a grant and does not have to be repaid as long as conditions are met, including job creation. Funds will be spent on equipment and renovations to the 40,000-square-foot building, which has a basement that will be used for test shooting. This is a great project for Canton and a great project for the Stark County area, said Steve Katz, senior vice president of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and a CIC board member. Its nice to see some manufacturing jobs created. Dan Cooper, company founder and president, said he chose Canton because a partner in the company is from Canton. Cooper, who used to live in Indiana, was visiting Canton when he spotted the Mulberry building, which he said is ideal for the project. About 15 employees are expected to be hired at the Canton site by late 2008 and 10 more by late 2009, said Cooper, who used to work for the now-defunct rifle-maker Kimber of Oregon. A total of 45 employees are projected by late 2010. The Montana facility employs nearly 40 people and will remain operating, Cooper said. The Canton plant will include woodworking and metal-making portions. Assembly eventually will be done on Mulberry Road and the rifles will be shipped out. The $1.52 million project includes $150,000 for the purchase of the building; $325,000 for building improvements; $573,000 for machinery and equipment; and $496,700 for inventory. Wages for the Canton jobs may be $10 to $12 an hour, with the opportunity for raises, Cooper said. Some Canton employees will be sent to Montana for training, he said. Talks with Cooper and the city started about a year ago, said Mayor Janet Weir Creighton. Cooper complimented the citys economic development program. He said he also considered locating the second Cooper Firearms facility in Mansfield, South Carolina and South Dakota. I have never encountered a place, a city, in all the ones we looked at, that were so ... business friendly and were just so helpful, he said of Canton. ABBOTT AND AKER Also at Thursdays meeting, the CIC approved a $50,000 deferred economic development loan to Abbott Electric. It will use the funds to renovate a building at 2001 Allen Ave. SE it leases to Akers Sign Co. The project is projected to total $150,000. Reach Repository writer Ed Balint at (330) 580-8315 or e-mail: email@example.com I wonder if they give employee discounts?