AURORA -- With Natural Essentials celebrating its 25th anniversary as a business this year, it's also contemplating a major expansion -- most likely in Streetsboro or Aurora -- according to Gary Pellegrino, the company's president.

Natural Essentials' "bulk apothecary" operation has been growing 40 percent to 45 percent annually for several years, and the company as a whole grew by 43 percent in 2016, he said.

With a facility in Aurora on Lena Drive and two facilities in Streetsboro on Miller Parkway, Pellegrino said he's in the process of getting construction estimates for some of his expansion options.

Both cities are offering abatements, and he's been in conversations with economic development directors from both cities -- Rob Peters from Streetsboro and Jack Burge from Aurora.

"I've sat down with Rob to talk about some abatements to assist with building out over there," he said. "I've gone to Aurora as well. Right now, we're about split, personnelwise, between the two cities" -- about 140 employees in each. "By year's end, we'll be well over 300."

At the time Pellegrino bought out his partners in 1995, he said the company included 17 or 18 employees.

The existing Natural Essentials facility in Aurora is about 200,000 square feet, he said. Buying the 179,000-square-foot Easton building next door and adding 100,000 square feet is one option he said he's considering.

In Streetsboro, the building located at 1830 Miller Parkway is for botanicals, which Pellegrino said must be kept separate from other facilities by space or a firewall. Bugs from the botanical products need to be separated from the rest of the operation, he said. The other Miller Parkway building houses quality control.

If the entire operation moves to Streetsboro, there could be three areas added. One would be a 61,000-square-foot addition connecting the existing facilities along Miller Parkway. The second piece would be a 98,600-square-foot addition extending east toward Page Road. The third piece would be an 83,750-square-foot area extending north from the 98,600-square-foot addition.

Pellegrino is considering a number of variations on these plans. Assuming a construction cost of $50 per square foot, he said the 98,600-square-foot section could represent an investment of $7 million to $8 million. That estimate is subject to change based on construction costs at the time of building.

Peters said Pellegrino is considering a variety of other sites, as well.

"He's looking at multiple sites in the city because he already has an operation in Streetsboro," said Peters. "I think he's just trying to make the best long-term business decision he can, given his current operation and the sites available."


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