GOSHEN — The Elkhart County Council’s last meeting of the year yielded good news, including plans to create hundreds of new jobs in Middlebury as well as the potential for three other businesses to expand.
Fortress Technologies LLC, a recreational vehicle frame manufacturing company, has agreed to hire 266 people over the next seven years in exchange for a property tax deduction phase-in for new equipment. The county council gave the company preliminary approval for the tax phase-in in November and made it official Saturday.
Fortress Technologies plans to move into the old Pilgrim International facility at 14489 U.S. 20 in Middlebury, where the company will invest $6.58 million in new manufacturing equipment. Total annual salaries for the new full-time employees will be $10.47 million, according to an agreement with the county.
Three other companies announced plans Saturday to expand and add more jobs in Elkhart County.
Indiana Galvanizing LLC, a family-owned business based in Missouri, hopes create 60 jobs and set up shop in Middlebury with the help of a seven-year tax phase-in with Elkhart County. The steel galvanizing company wants to hire 60 employees with annual salaries adding up to more than $2.24 million. The company plans to invest $500,000 in real estate, with new manufacturing and technology equipment valued at $510,000.
“The decision to expand — this will be our third facility — was not an easy one because for us culture is very important,” said Jason Monnig, whose grandfather started parent company Bob Monnig Industries in 1960. “Our employees, our vendors and our local governments are like family to us, and we weren’t all that familiar with Indiana or Ohio or Michigan or the other places we started looking, but the process has been a good one both at the state level and the county level.”
Smart Cabinet LLC has proposed hiring 55 workers in New Paris, where the company plans to invest $3.49 million in real estate, about $5.37 million in new manufacturing equipment and $210,000 in technology equipment. The woodworking company has been in business for seven years with more than 400 customers from coast to coast, according to President Kirk Barron. The company has asked for tax phase-ins spanning eight years for the new equipment and 10 years for real estate. Salaries for the new employees are expected to add up to almost $3 million annually.
The smallest of the three new tax phase-in requests came from Alliance Aluminum Products, an aluminum extrusion business that has outgrown its home in Bristol. The company hopes invest $1.4 million in real estate and add 10 positions with an annual payroll of $343,200. If approved, the proposed tax phase-in would cover the next eight years.
Indiana Galvanizing, Smart Cabinet and Alliance Aluminum Products will return to the county council on Jan. 12 seeking final approval for their tax phase-in plans. The council is also expected to vote on a tax phase-in request from Vista Manufacturing, a company that makes LED lighting products.