Millcraft Investments pursues Slovenian pact

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Millcraft Investments and a Slovenian company have agreed to work together in a bid to develop a North American base in Pittsburgh for the Eastern European firm's LED lighting business.

The Washington County developer has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Grah Lighting to pursue a possible joint venture locally, said Lucas Piatt, Millcraft president and chief operating officer.

"Our visions are aligned. We are going to continue to work together to develop a joint venture," he said.

Mr. Piatt; his father, Jack, Millcraft's founder and chairman; and other company officials traveled to Slovenia last month to meet with Robert Grah, head of Grah Lighting.

While they did not reach a final deal, the parties do have an agreement to pursue a partnership that would involve the assembly and manufacturing of LED lighting in Pittsburgh, Mr. Piatt said.

"The goal for us would be to make this the headquarters for the Western Hemisphere," Mr. Piatt said.

Mr. Grah is being courted by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who has said that the Slovenian entrepreneur is looking for someone to team with to create a North American company and to build assembly and manufacturing facilities.

Before Millcraft officials visited, Mr. Grah had narrowed his list of prospective cities to a handful, including Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Denver.

Neither he nor Mr. Peduto could be reached for comment Friday.

Mr. Piatt said Millcraft and Grah plan to work toward finalizing the partnership in the next month or so. Mr. Grah is expected to be in Pittsburgh in March, he said.

If a deal is consummated, the joint venture would start off assembling lighting in Pittsburgh before ramping up to do manufacturing. The LED lights would be used for street lamps as well as interior and commercial lighting.

Mr. Piatt said Millcraft has several sites under consideration for an assembly and manufacturing plant. Among them is the former LTV Coke Works site in Hazelwood, which Mr. Piatt said "seems to make sense."

Although known primarily for development, Millcraft has a background in steel and coal mining machinery manufacturing.

"This thing could be really great for Pittsburgh," Mr. Piatt said. "It could be hundreds of jobs at the end of the day. We're going to keep pressing forward and hopefully make this a win for the city."

Mark Belko: mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.


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