By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Elkhart County Commissioners Tuesday gave their blessing to the relocation and expansion of a New Paris cabinetry business that could bring nearly 60 new jobs to the area.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners approved a petition by James and Marilyn Cobb, represented by B. Doriot & Associates, for a zone map change. That change will allow the owners of Smart Cabinetry, now located at 67742 C.R. 23, New Paris, to relocate and expand operations at a new site on the northeast corner of C.R. 23 and C.R. 50 in New Paris.
The move follows an earlier approval by the Elkhart County Plan Commission during its Aug. 8 meeting.
According to the staff report, Smart Cabinetry started at its current location in 2004 and has grown to employ upwards of 130 employees.
In referencing the need for the relocation and expansion, the report indicated that Smart Cabinetry’s owners do not own the current facility — a situation that is not ideal. The report also pointed to issues including inadequate parking and loading dock areas at the current facility as another big reason for the desired move.
With the relocation, the company will move from its current 120,000-square-foot building to a new, 200,000-square-foot building. As part of the planned construction, the new facility will also include 12 loading docks to accommodate the anticipated increase in production that will accompany the business expansion.
In addition, company officials also plan to have an additional 55 new jobs over the next three to five years at an hourly rate of between $26 and $30 and hour.
Along those lines, the report pointed out that the company’s projected payroll for this year is currently around $7 million, a figure which will jump by an additional $3.2 million with the approved expansion.
C.R. 6 Paving
The commissioners on Tuesday also approved an additional appropriation request from the Northeast Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District fund for $125,000 to help pave an approximately one-mile stretch of roadway along C.R. 6 as it enters the city of Elkhart.
According to Elkhart County Administrator Tom Byers, the need for the funding assistance is actually connected to a long-standing agreement with Elkhart city officials that unexpectedly fell through this year.
Traditionally, Elkhart officials have agreed to pave the small section of roadway as it enters the city. However, this year, they determined they did not have enough available funding to pave the section. Byers said that had county officials not agreed to step in with funding, the road would have remained unpaved.
The County Redevelopment Commission, which controls the assets of the county’s TIF districts, got the initial ball rolling on the request. That group approved the use of the Northeast TIF funds for the paving project during its Aug. 22 meeting.
Tuesday’s approved request was not the first time the county has sought assistance from the County Redevelopment Commission in paving parts of C.R. 6.
During their May 23 meeting, commission members approved using $770,000 from the Northeast TIF District to pave Pierina Drive east of C.R. 9, C.R. 6 between C.R. 17 and C.R. 113 and an additional section of C.R. 6 between C.R. 11 and Northland Drive.
“We’ve gotten money before on C.R. 6, and then now we have this stretch located at the entrance to the city that wasn’t going to get paved,” Byers said. “Obviously it didn’t make sense to leave a section of the road unpaved, so we decided to appropriate the money and just do the whole thing.”
Also approved Tuesday was an agreement with Goshen city officials which will allow several Goshen buildings to be connected to the county’s high-speed fiberoptic Internet network.
The move follows a similar approval by the Goshen Board of Works and Safety during its meeting Friday afternoon.
For the past few years, Elkhart County government has had approximately 16 of its buildings in and around Goshen and Elkhart connected to what is commonly referred to as the Elkhart County Metronet — a 21-mile network containing approximately 140 strands of fiber owned and operated by Cincinnati Bell Technology Systems.
According to Byers, the new agreement will allow Goshen officials to establish a communication connection via fiberoptic cable between the new Goshen Street Department and Central Garage buildings and the County Administration Building on Second Street by tapping into the county’s fiberoptic line running along Steury Avenue.
In other business Tuesday, the commissioners:
• Approved an additional appropriation request by the County Highway Department from the Highway Local Road and Street fund for $200,000 to pay for fuel.
• Approved an additional appropriation request by the Highway Department from the EDIT fund for $15,000 for catch basin repair.
• Approved an additional appropriation request by the Highway Department from the Motor Vehicle Highway fund for $155,384 for road maintenance and construction expenses.
• Approved an additional appropriation request from the Rainy Day fund for $500,000 for the Group Insurance Trust fund.
• Approved an out-of-state travel request for a County Sheriff’s Department employee to go to Altamonte Springs, Fla., in November for Police Internal Affairs Investigations training.