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Expanding Heartland Has ‘Weathered the Storm’

Battered by the recession, there’s more news that Elkhart, Ind., is on the mend, according to the South Bend Tribune.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC, a manufacturer of RVs and travel trailers, said late Monday (March 28) it will expand its operations in Elkhart, creating up to 265 new jobs by 2013.

The announcement came in a press release from the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, which manufactures fifth-wheel, lightweight and extended-stay RVs, will invest more than $2.6 million to purchase and equip a 125,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, according to the release.

Heartland announced in February that it purchased the remaining trademarks of the towable brands of Fleetwood Enterprises, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, which employs 1,050 people in Elkhart County, plans to begin hiring additional manufacturing and supervisory personnel immediately as the new product lines are phased in.

The acquisition of the former Fleetwood brands will allow Heartland to expand into markets in the western United States.

“Our ability to gain ground in a down market has clearly positioned Heartland to make tremendous market share gains and further grow our dealer body in 2010,” Brian Brady, president and CEO of Heartland Recreational Vehicles, said in the release. “This is shaping up to be the best year in our history.”

Founded in 2003 as a manufacturer of high-end fifth wheel recreational vehicles, Heartland RV has expanded into the mid-profile, lightweight and travel trailer markets. In 2006, the company broke ground on its current 110,000 square-foot Elkhart headquarters.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Heartland RV up to $885,000 in performance-based tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans.

The city of Elkhart will provide additional property tax abatement at the request of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County.

The abatement amounts to a five-year property tax phase-in, for real and personal property, said Barkley Garrett, economic development manager for the city of Elkhart.

With the phase-in, they will not pay 100% taxes on real and personal property until year six, Garrett said.

The company has committed the 265 additional jobs by mid-2013.

It is not known if those are part of the 400 additional jobs announced in November. Company officials did not return calls to the Tribune.

“It’s a company that has weathered the storm very well,” said Garrett. “They have not been around very long but considering how long they have been around, they are a significant employer.

“They have 1,050 jobs here in Elkhart County, so they are a major player in the city and Elkhart County and also in the RV industry.

“They are a company we certainly want to see stay here and grow here.”

The tax phase-in is expected to get final formal approval at the April 19 city council meeting, Garrett said.

“It’s a good step for Elkhart and Elkhart County,” Garrett added. “We need to take care of our existing companies.”

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#1 Comment By Hearltand RVs On April 1, 2010 @ 8:36 am

Congratulations to Heartland RV. This is great news not only for Heartland RV, but for the RV industry as a whole and in turn the nation’s economy. Happy to hear it.