Companies plan expansion in Elkhart, Middlebury

Two companies hoping to expand in Elkhart County may create up to 281 new jobs.

Posted on Nov. 10, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Nov. 10, 2012 at 12:57 p.m.

GOSHEN — Two companies may add as many as 281 jobs in Elkhart and Middlebury over the next seven years in exchange for tax phase-ins from Elkhart County.

The Elkhart County Council gave preliminary approval for the two tax phase-ins today, Nov. 10, to Fortress Technologies and Vista Manufacturing. Both companies have agreed to stay in Elkhart County for the next 11 years if they get final approval for the tax phase-ins next month.

Fortress Technologies is a startup recreational vehicle frame manufacturing company that plans to set up shop at 14489 U.S. 20 in Middlebury. The facility there was once home to Pilgrim International, a company that manufactured travel trailers and haulers. Fortress Technologies has pledged to create 266 jobs with annual salaries adding up to $10.47 million if the phase-in is approved. The company would also invest $6.58 million in new manufacturing equipment.

“This is a competitive project,” said Dorinda Heiden-Guss, president of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County. “We are still competing against the state of Michigan. The state of Indiana is still putting together numbers, and we hope to secure the project here. It is contingent upon receiving incentives.”

If approved for a tax phase-in, another 15 jobs with total annual salaries of $538,000 would be created at Vista Manufacturing, which produces LED lighting products for recreational vehicles, aircrafts and movie theaters. The business has been in Elkhart County for more than 30 years, according to company president Todd Tieszen. The company plans to invest $2.48 million in real estate in Elkhart.

“We’re at a point here where we’re very excited about the future of Vista,” Tieszen told the county council today, Nov. 10.

The county council is expected to make a final decision on the two tax phase-in requests at its next meeting on Dec. 8.

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