Bus Maker Eyes Elkhart Site for RV Conversion
It looks like the nation’s largest bus dealership may have its eye set on a facility in Elkhart, Ind., according to The Goshen News.
The news was announced during a meeting of the Elkhart County Council Saturday (June 12), where officials with Chino, Calif.-based Creative Bus Sales Inc. indicated their desire to possibly locate one of their facilities in the Champlin Industrial Park on the southwest side of Elkhart.
The company plans to convert new buses, trucks, RVs and vans from gasoline to run on “green” CNG (compressed natural gas) and propane fuel systems. Should things go well with a proposed tax phase-in, future projects at the facility could include vehicle sales of buses, vans, alternative fuel buses and Global Electric Motors cars.
The company, which is also considering facilities in Michigan, Illinois and Kansas, came before the council to seek a five-year tax phase-in agreement that if approved could bring as many as 85 new full-time positions to the area by 2013. A final vote is set for July 10.
A tax phase-in is a partial or temporary exemption of a company from having to pay property taxes with the purpose of stimulating economic development.
According to Dorinda Heiden-Guss, president of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County, Creative Bus Sales is currently planning on investing approximately $478,000 in new machinery, equipment, and computer/IT hardware and software into the facility which will then be used primarily as an alternative fuels conversion/upfit operation.
Referencing the job creation expected to occur through the proposed project, Bill Anderson, service and operations manager for Creative Bus Sales, indicated that of the 85 new full-time positions expected to be created, 30 to 35 positions will be filled immediately, with the remaining 50 to 55 positions being brought in over the next three years.
As for payroll contribution, Anderson indicated the company is planning on paying an average hourly wage of $15 without fringe benefits, bringing the total estimated annual payroll to approximately $2.65 million.
Anderson noted that Creative Bus Sales is a family owned business that got its start in California in 1980.
Since then, the company has evolved into the nation’s largest bus dealership with a net worth of $125 million and multiple facilities throughout the United States.
With a majority of its facilities located in the Western United States, Anderson said the company became extremely interested in Elkhart County due to its large pool of skilled, available workers.
“We want to tap into the area labor force,” Anderson said. “These are the people we want to get.”
While the company is currently targeting Elkhart County as its top choice for a new facility, Anderson said that securing the tax phase-in requested Saturday will be integral to the final site selection process.
“This tax incentive is very important to us,” Anderson said, noting that a final decision on site selection will most likely be made within the next 30 to 60 days.