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Celadon plans $5.2M driver training center, 182 new jobs

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Indianapolis-based trucking carrier Celadon Group Inc. plans to build a $5.25 million driver-training center and add 182 workers to its 633-employee local work force by 2016, according to documents filed with the city.

In return, the company is seeking a seven-year real property-tax abatement worth $205,494 and a personal property-tax abatement worth $7,000 from the city.

The Metropolitan Development Commission is set to consider the tax-abatement requests during a meeting Wednesday afternoon. Final approval could come on Jan. 16.

Celadon plans the driver training center for a vacant 7.65-acre site in the vicinity of its corporate campus in Warren Township at 9050 E. 33rd St.

The planned 60,000-square-foot facility, which would include a dormitory for driver trainees, is in addition to plans the company announced in 2011 to build a $3.4 million, 36,000-square-foot office building at its campus.

The city approved tax abatements worth $261,308 for the previous project.

The latest project is expected to add $1.82 million in assessed value to the tax base, according to papers filed with the city.

The personal property investment portion—for $150,000 in information technology and logistics equipment Celadon plans to install—should increase the tax base by $60,000 in the first year, according to city documents.

The 182 new positions will pay an average of $18 an hour.

Celadon launched its new driving training program about six weeks ago. It will consist of four weeks of classroom training and six weeks of truck-based experience.
 
Although Celadon traditionally hires experienced drivers, it also wanted to present driving opportunities to local residents in the midst of career transition, said Celadon CEO Paul Will.
 
A driver can earn $40,000 to $50,000 a year.
 
The new training facility, which could open by summer’s end, will include a fitness center.  That will dovetail with Celadon’s existing wellness program, which includes an on-site health clinic.
 
Celadon recently was awarded the 2012 Healthy Trucking Fleet of the Year award, presented by FusionHealth and Navistar.
 
The award honors trucking companies that excel in integrating health and wellness programs and practices into their operations for improving the health and well-being of its driver work force.

Celadon has about 4,000 employees in total and is one of the nation’s largest truckload carriers, with annual revenue of more than $525 million.

The company has grown dramatically in recent years, snapping up numerous trucking firms and/or their equipment amid the slowing economy. 

Its customers include Chrysler Group, General Electric, Phillip Morris, Target and Wal-Mart.

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