Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

August 3, 2011

400 new jobs at Monaco RV plant gives Wakarusa a jolt of energy

WAKARUSA — Good news travels fast in this small community in western Elkhart County.

The morning after Navistar International Inc. announced it would move 400 manufacturing jobs from Oregon to Wakarusa, the town was buzzing with optimism.

As retiree Don Foster walked his Chihuahua down Elkhart Street near the post office Wednesday morning he was excited about the good news.

“I think it is good for the community,” he said. “It is going to put a lot of people back to work. That’s what we need.”

Foster and other town residents are well aware of the long-term economic woes that hit the town when Monaco Coach closed and terminated more than 1,000 people at its Wakarusa plant. Now, this new iteration of Monaco will be adding to the 250 employees producing Class A and Class C motorhomes at the massive complex that dominates the industrial park along Nelson Parkway.

Foster said he has friends who have worked in the recreational vehicle industry.

“Some of them,” he said, “have had a hard time finding work.”

‘That kind of excitement’

Down the street at the Chamber of Commerce, President Deb Shively had already met with her board of directors.

“It’s great news,” she said. “We are excited about that growth. And Utilimaster will be up to 1,000 employees by Labor Day and we feel Wakarusa is going to get back to where it used to be. There is that kind of excitement.”

Utilimaster converts box trucks for parcel delivery companies and a variety of other applications. The company has a joint venture with Isuzu Motors of Japan to build a line of new, light-weight vans and is adding jobs to fill orders.

Wakarusa developed in the 20th century as a hub of manufacturing activity. The small town — with its wide, tree-lined streets and early 20th century homes with large front porches — is bordered by industrial plants to its east. The industrial complexes reach out to Ind. 19 and line that highway to the north and south of C.R. 40.

Besides building RVs, Navistar builds its eStar electric truck in town. Visitors gawk at the site of the quiet electric trucks being test-driven around the town, something the locals have become used to.

“It’s like you are in the space age,” Shively said. “It is two extremes — it’s where small town USA and high-tech meet. It is very cool.”

Monaco and Navistar not only provide jobs to the town’s residents, Shively said, but the companies provide vital financial support for town activities. The companies returned as sponsors of the annual Maple Syrup Festival last year, Shively said.

“It was nice to see that support come back,” she said.

But it is the paychecks and the turn of those dollars from Monaco workers that will boost the local economy the most.

“Hopefully we will get people moving in and they will plug into the community, shopping locally and attending events,” Shively said.

Shane Weldy knows all about the hard hurt the economic downturn has visited upon Wakarusa families. He had been selling insurance for home warranties to local real estate agencies when the recession killed his career. Since then he and his wife, Charlotte, opened The New To You resale shop on Elkhart Street and also work part-time jobs as well to get by.

“Four hundred jobs is a lot,” Weldy said. “If we can get people to move to town it would be great for the community.”

He said people visit his store all the time who say they would like to live in Wakarusa. Now, with jobs being created in town, Weldy believes that will help sell homes.

“It’s definitely going to help the market,” he said.

Text Only
Local News
  • GN140802 first friday sandblast 06 FIRST FRIDAYS: Volleyball tourney, hoops events take center stage GOSHEN — Lori Shreiner and Kim Gallagher sat in lawn chairs, relaxing after winning their first round of competition in First Fridays SandBlast in downtown Goshen.

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • GN140730 city council summit 01 Proposed annexation vote set for Tuesday GOSHEN — It may seem like jumping the gun, but there’s a method to their madness.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140801 Cellular Connection backpack giveaway 011.jpg For free school supplies, head to The Cellular Connection GOSHEN — Residents in Goshen are about to benefit from a national backpack giveaway campaign. The Cellular Connection, the largest Verizon Premium Wireless Retailer in the United States, in a joint effort with its customers, will be donating 100,000

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140801 jeffery hunt Warsaw man gets 120 years for home invasion

    GOSHEN — An elderly New Paris couple who were victims of a violent home invasion last fall recounted that frightening night during one of their attackers’ sentencing hearing.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • BIZ GN140801 eby ford image 02 Eby Ford renovates showroom and more GOSHEN — The remodeled and expanded Eby Ford, Lincoln, Mercury dealership was celebrated Thursday night during an open house and ribbon cutting. “Without our awesome customers, we wouldn’t be here,” said owner Todd Eby as he addressed the crowd of fr

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • GN140801 Mackowiak new Millersburg marshal.jpg Retired Goshen police officer sworn in as new Millersburg town marshal

    Retired Goshen police officer Al Mackowiak was sworn in as Millersburg's new town marshal Wednesday.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wawasee Conservancy map Conservancy buys wetlands property at Syracuse Lake SYRACUSE — The Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation has purchased 44 1/2 acres of property along the southeast corner of Syracuse Lake. It is adjacent to the CSX railroad tracks, East Shore Drive and Cornelius Road and includes the Bonar Lake wetlands

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140731 Habitat auction2.jpg Friday auction to benefit Habitat SHIPSHEWANA — On Friday, LaGrange County Habitat for Humanity will host its annual auction at Shipshewana Auction Barn.The auction begins at 3:30 p.m. and includes, among many other items, a five-piece bedroom suite, a white oak trestle table and a d

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • City heads seek more employees GOSHEN — Like the 2014 budget, the city of Goshen’s proposed 2015 budget will include a number of requests for new personnel as department heads fight to maintain services amidst growing responsibilities and shrinking coffers.The Goshen City Council

    July 31, 2014

  • Rerouting for U.S. 33 lags behind GOSHEN — It looks like the city could start seeing some movement on the planned U.S. 33 rerouting project by as early as next month.That’s the word from Goshen Civil City Engineer Mary Cripe, who spoke on the subject during the annual Goshen City Cou

    July 31, 2014

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Classes at Goshen Community Schools and St. John the Evangelist Catholic School will begin the 2014-15 school year on Thursday, Aug. 7. School corporations throughout the state have been trending toward earlier start dates the past few years. When do you think school should start?

I think early August is a good time to start
I think later in August would be a good time to start
I think school should start after Labor Day
     View Results
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction