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RV company planning Indiana factory expansions

Associated Press
July 16, 2012
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A recreational vehicle maker is planning factory expansions in northern Indiana that could add more than 400 jobs in a county that was badly battered by that industry's collapse during the recession.

Forest River Inc. is seeking local property tax breaks and state incentives toward expanding its operations in Goshen, Middlebury and Millersburg, all in Elkhart County.

Dave Ogle, director of business retention and expansion for the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County, told The Elkhart Truth that the county needs to take advantage of a contraction in the RV industry.

"What used to be 30 or 40 manufacturers is now three, four or five manufacturers," Ogle said. "I think we have a great opportunity to continue to protect that business cluster and the supplier chains that go along with that."

The county just east of South Bend was hit by thousands of layoffs from RV factories early in the recession, leading to it have one of the state's highest unemployment rates for couple years and peaking in March 2009 at 18.9 percent.

The RV industry's rebound has seen the Elkhart County jobless rate drop to 8.6 percent in May, which was the 26th highest among the state's 92 counties.

Forest River plans to add 120 employees to its Millersburg location, with 40 more jobs planned at its Middlebury plant. The Elkhart County Council has a public hearing scheduled next month on the company's property tax abatement requests on its expansion plans at those plants.

Company officials also will be meeting this week with the Goshen City Council on a similar proposal for tax abatements.

If all goes according to plan, the RV company's expansion could mean some 445 jobs, Ogle said.

Company spokesman Mike Stump said the tax breaks will allow Forest River to remain competitive in the RV industry. Stump said the company must gain local support to qualify for state assistance, which could add up to between $6 million and $10 million.

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  • Wondering Why
    We were hoping to pick up a good, used RV at a good price, what with the economy being slack. No Go. People are hanging on to them. Hedging their bets due to all the drought and home devaluations, or just a lot of folks retiring? Bottom line - glad for the jobs!

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  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

  2. Shouldn't this be a museum

  3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

  4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

  5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.

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