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Stark State's Marathon Neighbor Fuels Our Economy

(North Canton, OH – March 25, 2010) – The keeper of the famous “flame” at the intersection of U.S. 30 and I-77 visited the Stark State College family recently as part of the College’s focus on its business neighbors. Mike Armbrester, manager of the Ohio refining division of Marathon Petroleum, spoke to a crowd about operations at the Fortune 500 company.

The Canton refinery, introduced by Stark State President John O’Donnell as one of the area’s “highly successful businesses with great economic impact,” is the fifth largest of Marathon’s U.S. refineries. Its 500 jobs account for $65 million in wages and benefits for local workers and another $1 million in commercial activity tax added to the local economy. Because it’s the only refinery in Northeast Ohio, the majority of its products – primarily gasoline – stay in the area. The company also is active in community organizations, including United Way, Adopt-a-School, emergency responders, Stark Parks and others.

Marathon is a “responsible care company,” Armbrester said, and has earned awards for its commitment to continuous improvements to the environment, health, safety and security. The Canton refinery, for instance, has received the U.S. EPA Energy Star Award for it reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for three years running.

The Canton plant’s product, Armbrester said, goes to a refinery tank, is shipped via truck or pipeline to terminal tanks, then hauled by tanker truck to retail gas stations. The company’s 4,600 Marathon brand stations are owned by independent businesses while 1,600 Speedway SuperAmerica convenience stores are owned and operated by Marathon.

Marathon’s “keys to success,” said Armbrester, a veteran employee, are safe operation, reliability, control of operating costs and being an employer of choice. He also fielded plenty of questions from the Stark State crowd, including one about that highly visible flame highway drivers see. It’s a good thing, he said – a “flare system” that burns off excess materials as a pressure release safety mechanism. “Both you and I,” he said, “want that flame to be there.”

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