Hundreds of jobs could be on the way for Elkhart County

By: Nick McGurk Email
By: Nick McGurk Email

As many as 600 new employees could get hired from two companies that pledge to invest millions in Elkhart County. In turn, the county council voted to grant tax phase-ins for those companies that will span years.

Energy, Inc., is based in Nevada; the company essentially turns industrial waste into energy. They expect to hire at least 200, and as many as 500, new employees for the Middlebury plant they hope to occupy.

The other company is Truck Accessories Group in Elkhart.

Both companies were granted tax phase-ins for new buildings and equipment. The Elkhart County Council voted 7-0 to approve both.

"Our focus right now is putting jobs back in the plants, and getting our people back to work, and this is one of the few things we can do to make that happen," said John Letherman, president of the Elkhart County Council.

Here’s how the phase-ins work. The companies get tax breaks on new buildings and equipment they purchase. At first, the companies are forgiven nearly 100 percent of taxes, but the tax breaks are phased out over time.

"We've granted a 90 percent first year, 80 percent second year, 70 percent third year, and so forth,” said Letherman.

Buildings that already exist, though, will continue to be taxed.

What’s now an empty lot in Middlebury could soon be the home of hundreds of employees.

“We've got too many people unemployed," said Letherman. "We want to send the message that Elkhart is a business-friendly environment."

Energy, Inc., has told the Elkhart County Council it will invest somewhere between $60 and 80 million and hire up to 500 people.

The jobs will be high-skilled and technical, with average salaries of more than $40,000.

Truck Accessories Group in Elkhart County plans to hire roughly 60 new employees as well.

"We're going to do whatever we can do to put people back to work," said Letherman. He says the tax phase-ins are win-win for Elkhart County. If the companies don’t follow through on their investments, they will lose the tax phase-ins, said Letherman.

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