Newton city commission approves airport chemical plant

NEWTON, Kansas – The city commission unanimously approved a plan Friday afternoon to bring a chemical plant to the Newton Airport, and may have done so in record time, according to city staff.

About a month ago, Wichita-based ABI Chemical proposed locating a facility at the Newton airport to develop chemical coatings for aircraft.

They wanted the plans done quickly, to be finalized by May 12.

Newton city staff were somehow able to turn in months worth of prep work in 30 days.

And with the city commission facing that deadline of Monday morning at 8 a.m., they unanimously approved going ahead with the project.

“[Staff members] have done a fantastic job,” Newton mayor Leroy Koehn said. “I think it says that we’re very forward-thinking, and that we’re a community that welcomes new companies, new businesses, and also our existing ones. We’re very supportive of all of them.”

The city will use about $4.6 million dollars in bond money to build the facility and lease it to the company for at least the next 20 years.

City leaders say this is the fastest they have ever worked to approve a project, and that speed may come in handy to continue to lure new business.

“It’s been a challenge for us, but we wanted to show that we’re able to move quickly,” Bob Myers, Newton’s city attorney, said. “It’s just a matter of devoting the time and the effort to it to make sure you have looked at all aspects of the issue.”

Construction will begin immediately. ABI hopes to have work start at the facility by October, and a groundbreaking is set for next Thursday.

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