By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — Elkhart County Council members Saturday voted to approve tax phase-ins for two plastics extrusion companies that together could bring nearly 75 new jobs to the area.
First to be approved Saturday was a declaratory resolution supporting a seven-year tax phase-in agreement with the company Reschcor Inc., a plastics extrusion company to be located on C.R. 29 near the Indiana Toll Road in Bristol.
According to county attorney Craig Buche, Reschcor is currently looking at expansion plans at the Bristol location which promises approximately $3.1 million in new real estate investment, $3.5 million in new machinery and equipment and $153,500 in new information technology equipment.
“The team at Reschcor has been remarkable to work with,” said Dave Ogle, director of business retention and expansion for the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County. “I think we first built our relationship a few years ago, and it struck me at the time how diverse that company was. Since then they have outgrown their current facility, and have spent about the last year or so looking for an appropriate facility.”
Through the expansion, the company has indicated plans to hire approximately 43 new full-time positions for an expected annual payroll increase of $1.55 million.
In order to qualify for the tax phase-in agreement, Reschcor has agreed that it will stay in operation at its Bristol location for no less than 11 years. Should the company fail to meet its obligations under the phase-in agreement, Reschcor would be forced to repay the county a prorated portion of the total taxes saved as a result of the tax phase-in agreement.
Final action on the proposed tax phase-in is set for Aug. 10, at which time the County Council will determine whether or not the qualifications for a tax phase-in can be reasonably met by the company.
Also approved Saturday was a declaratory resolution supporting a six-year tax phase-in agreement with Lifetime Industries Inc., a plastics extrusion subsidiary of Boyd Corp., currently located at 53208 Columbia Drive, Elkhart.
“(Boyd Corporation) is a significant sized multinational with facilities all over the U.S. and several other countries,” Ogle said. “The corporate deals with aerospace, appliances, all of the mega trends, industrial transportation ... they’re quite a diverse multi-national.”
According to Buche, Lifetime Industries is currently looking to expand its operations at its Elkhart plant with the promise of approximately $1.6 million in new real estate investment, $1.76 million in new machinery and equipment investment and $20,000 in new information technology equipment investment.
With its expansion, the company has indicated plans to hire approximately 30 new full-time positions for an expected annual payroll increase of $947,000.
In order to qualify for the tax phase-in agreement, Lifetime Industries has agreed to stay in operation at its Elkhart facility for no less than 10 years.
Final action on the proposed tax phase-in is set for the council’s Aug. 10 meeting.
Bristol road project
In other business, the council received a brief presentation on a pending road construction project involving a partnership with the town of Bristol that looks to improve road traffic in the area connected to the recent relocation of Utilimaster from its birthplace in Wakarusa to the town of Bristol.
Following more than five years of plans and conversations, the long-time manufacturer of commercial truck bodies and walk-in delivery vans announced early last year its plans to move its entire 106-acre campus along Ind. 19 to a 425,000-square-foot building on Earthway Boulevard that had previously been occupied by the former Odyssey Group.
According to Ken Jones, president of the design and engineering firm Jones, Petrie and Rafinski, a proposed interlocal agreement is currently on the table which involves the county loaning the town $1.5 million from its Major Moves fund to go toward construction of a new connector route between Ind. 15 and Maple Street in Bristol in order to ease the increased traffic created by Utilimaster’s recent move.
“Ultimately this is Phase 1 of a multi-phase project,” Jones said, “where the goal is to try to move some of the heavy truck traffic off of downtown Bristol.”
According to Buche, the plan calls for the county to loan the town $1.5 million, $500,000 of which would be expected to be repaid as soon as the project is completed from a reimbursement from the Indiana Department of Transportation.
“Then the remaining $1 million would be paid over approximately a period of 10 years through the TIF (Tax Increment Finance) revenues from the town of Bristol,” Buche said. “Then that would come back to your Major Moves fund.”
When asked by a council member whether or not the Bristol TIF would be able to raise enough funding to pay back the loan over that 10 year period, Buche indicated that the existing increment from the Utilimaster property alone currently brings at least $100,000 a year through the TIF, a figure he said should be adequate to ensure the loan is repaid in full and on time.
Following the presentation, Council President John Letherman said he would like to have the proposal brought back before the council at its August meeting for a formal vote on the funding request.
“The shift of Utilimaster from Wakarusa to Bristol is one of the single biggest employment shifts we’ve had in the county other than Miles leaving in a very, very long time,” Letherman said. “It’s important I think that we support the effort and support the growth that aught to happen there so that it happens in the right way.”