Celadon says new driver-training facility to create 500 jobs

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Indianapolis-based trucking firm Celadon Group Inc. plans to create as many as 500 jobs over the next 10 years at a new $5.7 million driver-training school on the city's east side.

Celadon first announced plans for the driver-education center in January, but has since expanded the project and employment projections while seeking state incentives.

The company made the latest announcement Tuesday morning at Celadon's east-side headquarters along with Gov. Mike Pence, Mayor Greg Ballard and executives for the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

Celadon’s most recent plans call for a $5.7 million, 61,000-square-foot training facility at 9050 E. 33rd St.. The 500 jobs should be added by 2022, the company said.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Celadon up to $2.9 million in performance-based tax credits and up to $200,000 in training grants based on the job-creation plans.

Celadon told IBJ in January that it planned to build a $5.25 million, 60,000-square-foot center and add 182 workers to its 633-employee local work force by 2016.

In January, the Metropolitan Development Commission approved a seven-year real property-tax abatement for the project worth $205,494 and a personal property-tax abatement worth $7,000.

Monte Horst, vice president of sales and marketing for Celadon, said the local incentives were based on job creation in the Indianapolis area while the new incentives cover statewide job creation.

The jobs include drivers, trainers and administrative personnel.

The company hopes to train as many as 500 drivers this year and up to 100 per month starting in 2014, Horst said.

CEO Paul Will told IBJ in January that Celadon wouldn’t proceed with the project unless the company also received unspecified incentives from the state. He said Celadon also looked at building the facility in Dallas, but that executives preferred Indianapolis.

In addition to the drivers school, the building will house dorm rooms, a cafeteria, workout room, basketball/racquet court and driver-training road course. Construction is expected to be completed by the fall.

"Driver recruitment and driver retention is a long-term challenge within the industry," Will said in a prepared statement. "We realize that establishing the Quality Drivers school and the Celadon training program are the next logical steps in ensuring that we have sufficient numbers of qualified drivers to fill our seats and meet our growth expectations."

Founded in 1985, Celadon is one of the country's largest truckload carriers, with annual revenue exceeding $600 million.

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