Forest River Inc.’s plans to hire an additional 440 people by the end of 2015 – which hinges on the approval of various local and state tax breaks – includes expansions at five of the builder’s facilities in Indiana’s Elkhart County.
As reported by the South Bend Tribune, the recreational vehicle maker’s expansion plans in Millersburg and Middlebury were presented Saturday (July 14) to the Elkhart County Council. A vote will be taken in a second meeting on Aug. 11 after a public hearing.
A similar presentation regarding two facilities in Goshen will be made to the Goshen City Council today. All told, Forest River’s expansion covers five facilities, including a third site in Goshen for which the company is not seeking any incentives.
“I am glad to see Forest River step up and take this action,” said Dave Ogle, director of business retention and expansion for the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County.
“The market is contracting rapidly to fewer significant players and as a consequence more states want our stuff,” Ogle added, citing Oregon, Michigan, California and Ohio as states seeking RV companies. “I am glad they are giving us a chance to compete for their business here. We do not want that to be diluted in any way. That also impacts the supplier chain integrity as well.”
Forest River is seeking the normal tax phase-in on new properties and improvements to existing facilities, Ogle said, along with phasing in its new investment in equipment for these properties.
“It’s important people understand a tax phase-in does not impact the tax rate of an existing facility,” Ogle said. In other words, Forest River will continue to pay what it has been paying at its facilities.
“The tax abatement impact is just on the new investment that is increasing the assessed value of that property,” Ogle said.
The jobs are good paying jobs, Ogle said. Some are in the $22-per-hour range.
But Ogle said it is his understanding that Forest River is being conservative with those estimates. “In talking with the people at Forest River, it is not uncommon for people to make $25 to $30 an hour,” he said, adding that there are bonuses tied to the amount of work employees complete.