The economic climate across Elkhart County is a lot brighter following a planned boost in employment at one Goshen company.
On Tuesday, Supreme Industries Inc., which makes customized truck bodies, announced it intends to hire 350 new employees by mid-summer.
Supreme currently employs 650 workers at its 100-acre Goshen campus. This initiative would bring that number to 1,000 employees. Company leaders say a payroll of that magnitude is on-par with employment prior to the dark days of the late 2000's.
"Certainly the growth that we saw in 2011 and then our continued growth in 2012 has been very gratifying and I think probably the speed of the recovery has been a surprise to everybody,” President/CEO Kim Korth said during a phone interview.
That surprise was shared by Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman.
"Elkhart County really took a hammering so 350 jobs don’t completely solve our 11 percent unemployment problem, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. 350 jobs is nothing to sneeze at in a community of our size,” Kauffman said.
This sketch for growth won't be a done deal until Goshen’s seven-member city council analyzes, discusses and votes on the proposal Tuesday at 7 p.m.
In addition to hiring hundreds, Supreme plans to invest $7.71 million on new equipment and refurbished facilities. In turn, Supreme would pay nearly $1,679,658 million in additional taxes during the next seven years. It's now asking Goshen to waive 41-percent of that figure or $688,003 through 2019.
'"I’d be the most surprised person in the world if this didn't pass tonight. These are good paying jobs and a nice investment in the community. I believe it will be a 7-0 vote,” Kauffman added.
Supreme says the majority of the new openings will be factory line-production positions, with the prospect of technical openings to follow. All will be full-time with full benefits, with the average salary right around $35,000. So long as the city council approves the tax abatement, Supreme will begin hiring by summer.