Butler Approves Incentives for Forest River

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Article by Jeff Jones | KPC News | November 8, 2017 
BUTLER — Butler’s City Council welcomed Forest River Manufacturing LLC to the city by approving three 10-year abatement requests at Monday’s meeting.
Based in Elkhart, Forest River will manufacture XLR toy haulers at the former Evans Equipment property at 685 E. Main St., just across the railroad tracks at the east end of town.
Toy haulers have ramp doors at the rear for motorcycles, ATVs and off-road vehicles, with living space at the opposite end. They come in travel-trailer and fifth-wheel configurations.
Forest River general manager Brent Stevens and director of public relations Mike Stump addressed the council Monday to explain the project.
Forest River will employ up to 125 people on a single shift at the Butler facility, initially using existing buildings on the property until a larger structure can be built east of the current office building.
“We’re here to hire anyone who’s willing to work hard and is mechanically inclined,” Stump said.
“We’re putting our toe in the market to see how the local labor market responds,” Stevens added.
Forest River previously acquired the property and began renovating the existing buildings so that production can start later this year. The larger new building, to be between 95,000 and 100,000 square feet, is expected to be finished by mid-2018.
Last week, Butler’s Economic Development Commission had recommended granting three 10-year abatements — one each for real property, personal property and a vacant building deduction. City Planner Steve Bingham said the Indiana Legislature created the vacant building deduction in 2013.
By separate 5-0 votes, council members Ron Baker, Tammy Davis, Jerry Eldridge, Eric Johnson and Scott Lanning approved the abatement resolutions.
“We’re always looking for great companies to come to Butler,” Eldridge said. “I’m personally very excited.”
In response to a request from Stump, Butler officials and the DeKalb County Economic Development Partnership, represented by executive director Anton King, pledged to help Forest River work with the Norfolk Southern railroad to extend a natural gas line under the railroad tracks to serve the facility.  

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