Battery company to decide on move to Lexington within month

ssloan@herald-leader.comMarch 5, 2013 

The leader of a battery researcher and developer that is considering moving to Lexington said Tuesday the decision will be made by the end of the month.

NOHMs Technologies is considering either relocating here or staying in New York, where it was founded in October 2010 as a spinoff from Cornell University. It's a move that could bring as many as 162 jobs to the area.

"We're working through the pluses and minuses," said founder and CEO Nathan Ball, who noted the company has received incentive offerings from New York state officials.

Ball said he was attracted to Kentucky after learning about a state program that matches awards, up to a certain amount, from two federal grant programs. A lot of NOHMs Technologies' funding up to this point has come from one of the federal programs, Ball said.

Kentucky officials have also approved other incentives for the company to lure it here. Last week, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority gave preliminary approval for $2.1 million in tax incentives.

In general, when a company accepts the tax incentive, it can keep that amount of money, which it would otherwise pay in taxes, assuming it fulfills the terms of the deal.

The company estimates the move will cost $5.37 million, according to state documents.

The proposed operations here would include research and development labs for batteries and battery prototypes. Ball said the company has developed a product that could eventually be used in cell phones, tablet computer and vehicles.

"Our battery is higher energy, so we can store more on a single charge," he said, adding the materials used are also less expensive than those of existing lithium-ion batteries.

The company proposes having 33 employees on site at the beginning of operations, with growth to 162 employees in eight years. The jobs would pay an average of $30 hourly, including benefits.

Ball said the company was also attracted to the region because of the Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center in north Lexington.

The organization, which has about 15 research-focused employees, is a partnership of the state, the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville and the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory.

"It's attractive for us to have an open-user facility like that in the neighborhood," he said. "You could get more work done there than on your own."

Scott Sloan: (859) 231-1447. Twitter: @HeraldLeaderBiz

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