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New Fruth a testament to local cooperation

Nov. 22, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

IRONTON -- Local business and community leaders worked together to bring the new Fruth Pharmacy and 20 jobs to Ironton, said Lynne Fruth, president and chairman of the board. The pharmacy is the 26th in the company's chain in Ohio and West Virginia, but the first new pharmacy to open in some six years.

"We have about 20 people working now, but will be expanding that to 25," Fruth said last week. The regional pharmacy chain has 10 pharmacies in Ohio, including locations in Ironton and Proctorville, and 16 in West Virginia, including three in Huntington.

The new pharmacy represents an investment of about $1.5 million, Fruth said.

The pharmacy is located across the street from the St. Mary's medical complex off Ohio 141 just off the U.S. 52 interchange. It is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. The store is now open for business, but the official grand opening and ribbon cutting have been planned for 10 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 30.

The Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, the Ironton-Lawrence County Area Community Action Organization and the city of Ironton worked together to help find a location for the pharmacy, said Mayor Rich Blankenship. The pharmacy has a lease-purchase agreement on the property with the development corporation, said Jeremy Clay, director of The Point, a South Point industrial park.

"They were a good group to work with," Fruth said. "Lawrence County has figured out how to get people to work together. It's been a good experience. When we heard St. Mary's was opening a location, we thought it might be a good fit for us and them." Fruth said.

"With the pharmacy and St. Mary's and Ohio University-Southern, the whole area is improving," Blankenship said. "We're glad to have Fruth Pharmacy in Ironton. As long as we continue to work together, good things can happen."

By the end of the month, Fruth hopes to have a discount drug agreement in place for the nearly 13,000 patients at the Family Medical Centers, Fruth said. As a community health center, the Family Medical Center can offer discounts to underinsured patients, said D.R. Gossett, executive director of the community action organization.

"We're excited to add them to our list of pharmacies that can offer the discounts," Gossett said.

The pharmacy has a gifts and floral section and sells local high school gear, Fruth said. The company also has started a scholarship for a student from a Lawrence County high school attending Ohio University-Southern in 2013, she said.

Gossett and Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, came to her to talk about opening a new pharmacy in Ironton. "It was a natural fit for us," she said.

The development corporation built the 9,600-square-foot pharmacy to Fruth's specifications, Dingus said.

"They are a truly family-oriented small business," he said of Fruth. "They go out of their way to look to hire full-time employees instead of hiring a bunch of part-time workers."

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