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Hostess set to resume full production in Indy

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Hostess Brands LLC wants to have its Indianapolis plant in full production by the end of next week, an executive said Wednesday, shortly before the Metropolitan Development Commission approved a tax abatement on $10 million in new equipment.

As part of the $536,000 abatement agreement, the company has promised to install the new equipment and hire 145 local workers making an average wage of $16.82 an hour within the next two years.

"We'll have no problem with that," Chief Administrative Officer Michael Cramer said.

Cramer said the company could not give out current employee head counts for competitive reasons.

Hostess, now owned by private-equity firms Apollo Global Management and Metropolis & Co., has hired back some of the people who lost their jobs when its predecessor opted to declare bankruptcy last year, Cramer said, but he didn't know how many.

The new owners used a staffing agency to rebuild the Indianapolis workforce, from the plant manager down to shift workers, Cramer said. He added that Hostess made a point of reaching out to former employees to fill skilled positions.

The Shadeland Avenue plant is making muffins and Donettes, which are among the half-dozen products included in Hostess Brands' initial launch, Cramer said. Each factory will have the ability to produce core products, but Twinkies won't be made here, he said.

Hostess will have the new equipment installed at the plant at 2929 N. Shadeland Avenue and 7100 E. 30th St. soon, Cramer said. "Most of it is sitting there, ready to be installed or waiting to be installed," he said.

While the eight-year abatement will give Hostess a 62-percent savings in personal property taxes, the company will still pay $333,780 over that time. After the abatement period ends, the company will pay an estimated $90,000 annually on the property.

The Metropolitan Development Commission's vote on the tax incentives was unanimous. As of July 1, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has a majority of appointments on the nine-member board. His first new appointee, former Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce CEO Scott Miller, accepted the role on Monday and was present for Wednesday's meeting.

"I'm very pro-business," said MIller, who has worked closely with the Ballard administration since his days as the head of Develop Indy. "I want to make sure we look at things as a way to help grow jobs here in central Indiana."

Two members who were appointed by the Marion County Commissioners, Ed Mahern and Cornelius Brown, were removed on July 1, as a result of legislation that eliminated at-large City-County Council seats, expanded the mayor's budgetary authority to county elected offices and gave him the majority of appointments on the MDC.

Mahern was president of the MDC, so Vice President Dorothy Jones will preside over the commission's meetings until a new president is elected.

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