RVBusiness Names Top 10 RVs of the Year, Other Honorees

“RVB’s Top 10 RVs of the Year” is a new feature generated this year by the staff and contributors of RVBusiness magazine, the Elkhart, Ind.-based trade journal that in recent years had dedicated the spine of its Nov/Dec issue’s coverage to one “RV of the Year” and four finalists along with a series of “Top Debuts.”

Because key trade/consumer events like September’s Hershey Show and Elkhart RV Open House weren’t held this year due to pandemic circumstances, however, our editorial crew was unable to review units as closely as we’d like in order to make a finite decision regarding one new model above all of the others.

So, our response, based in part on a pretty exhaustive canvas of new models on display at private dealer shows around Elkhart’s RV-building zone this fall, is to highlight – in no particular order – “RVB’s Top 10 RVs of the Year” along with 25 “Top Debuts” and another 33 “Must-See” models in an effort to recognize those manufacturers that are truly pushing the envelope with regard to the latest technological, engineering and design trends.

At the same time, for the second issue in a row, we’ll be digitally promoting this product-rich section to a vast consumer audience of more than four million people across 30 different RV-focused websites operated by the RV Life Network, a 15-year-old, Texas-based, digital media firm.

So, congratulations to the winners – but also to an industry that, once again, has not only proven its resilience but, from all appearances, soared to new heights.

TOP 10 RVs of the YEAR

  • Alliance Paradigm
  • Dutchmen Yukon 400RL
  • Fleetwood Discovery LXE 25th Anniversary Edition 36HQ
  • Forest River River Ranch by Palomino
  • Forest River Ibex 20BHS
  • Grand Design Solitude 346FLS
  • Jayco Jay Feather Micro
  • Keystone Arcadia
  • Newmar Canyon Star 3719
  • Winnebago Hike

TOP DEBUTS

  • Airstream Basecamp 2.0
  • Bowlus Endless Highways Performance Edition
  • Coachmen Sportscoach SRS
  • CrossRoads Cameo 3701RL
  • Dynamax Europa
  • East to West Tandara 320 RL
  • Entegra Ethos 20T
  • Forest River Cedar Creek 345IK
  • Forest River Impression 270RK
  • Grand Design Transcend Xplor 240ML
  • Gulf Stream Conquest 63111
  • Heartland North Trail DBS
  • Holiday Rambler Nautica 33TL
  • Jayco Seneca Prestige / Entegra Accolade XL
  • KZ Escape Hatch E17
  • Lance 1770 Ultra-Light Travel Trailer
  • Leisure Travel Vans Wonder Rear Lounge
  • nüCamp Barefoot
  • Prime Time Crusader 305
  • Roadtrek Zion Slumber
  • Thor Motor Coach Tellaro
  • Tiffin Zephyr
  • Winnebago Revel 44E
  • Woodland Park PMRV
  • Xtreme Outdoors Little Guy Micro Max

MUST-SEE RVs

  • Aliner Family Camper
  • American Tradition 37S
  • Coachmen Encore
  • Cruiser Radiance R-28BH
  • Droplet Teardrop
  • DRV Mobile Suites 41 FKMB
  • Forest River Sierra C-Class 3770
  • Forest River Sabre 37FLL
  • Forest River Wildcat 336 RLS
  • Jayco Eagle 24RE
  • Coachmen Catalina
  • CrossRoads Sunset Trail 268RL
  • CrossRoads Zinger 280RB
  • Dutchmen Voltage
  • Grand Design Momentum G-Class 30G
  • Gulf Stream Envision 25RLD
  • Gulf Stream Vintage Cruiser 23TWS
  • Heartland Big Horn 3120RK
  • Heartland Cyclone 4006
  • Highland Ridge Open Range Roamer
  • Holiday Rambler Armada 44LE
  • Keystone Cougar 345UMR
  • KZ Durango Half Ton D27BHS
  • Lance 2445 Travel Trailer
  • Marathon Show Coach #1317
  • nüCamp Cirrus 820
  • Roadtrek Chase
  • Roadtrek Play
  • Shasta (sanitizing station)
  • Thor Motor Coach Sequence
  • Venture RV SportTrek Touring 343VIB
  • Winnebago Micro Minnie 2108 DS
  • Winnebago Solis 59PX

By: RVBusiness|Published on: Oct 13, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News| Source: https://rvbusiness.com/rvbusiness-announces-top-10-rvs-of-the-year-other-winners/

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Governor Holcomb Adds Additional $25 Million to Next Level Jobs Workforce Ready Grant Scholarship Program

Governor Holcomb Adds Additional $25 Million to Next Level Jobs Workforce Ready Grant Scholarship Program, Employer Training Grant Program Closed to New Applications

Indiana is allocating an additional $25 million from the CARES Act toward the state’s Next Level Jobs program, which is the second expansion of the Governor’s signature workforce development initiative, using federal pandemic relief funds.

More than 600 employers have used funding from the Next Level Jobs Employer Training Grant to train new or existing workers for jobs. This grant provides Indiana employers with reimbursement for approved training costs, up to $5,000 per employee and with a cap of $100,000 per employer. The Department of Workforce Development has obligated all of the funding currently available through the Employer Training Grant and will not be accepting any new applications.

For individuals wishing to take advantage of the Next Level Jobs Workforce Ready Grant program, including incumbent workers and new hires, please have them visit www.nextleveljobs.org

The EDC of Elkhart County offers training delivered by Purdue MEP, an approved training provider. Contact us today for your training needs:  Cara@elkhartcountybiz.com

Visit our website at www.elkhartcountybiz.com

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Ivy Tech iFlex Lab in Elkhart to Boost Advanced Manufacturing

Ivy Tech’s new iFlex Lab will be located immediately east of the existing building on the Elkhart campus. (Artists rendering)

Construction is under way on the new Ivy Tech iFlex Lab, a facility that will help transform Elkhart County, Ind., and make the area a national leader in advanced manufacturing, according to reporting by Rasmus S. Jorgensen in The Elkhart Truth. as well as a video report (above) by WNDU.

That was the consensus Wednesday morning (Sept. 10) at the official groundbreaking on the Ivy Tech campus in Elkhart, where leaders from the community college and the community at large celebrated the impact they foresee, as well as how fast the project, proposed last summer, is moving.

The iFlex Lab, located immediately east of the existing Elkhart campus building, will allow Ivy Tech to embrace new technologies that local employees will need to learn for Elkhart County to lead the nation in manufacturing, according to several speakers. One of those speakers was U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2, who spoke via video link.

“By the charge of who we are, we obviously want to lead and not follow when it comes to manufacturing, and the iFlex Laboratory is right on point to be able to do that,” she said. “Our present and future workforce will require advanced technical and computer skills to remain second to none.”

The threat automation poses to workers is real, she said. But by embracing technologies such as mechatronics and robotics, the local workforce can stay ahead.

Photo by Gregg Fore

Ivy Tech’s new 10,000-square-foot facility will offer training for people seeking to follow those and other paths, including industrial maintenance and computer-aided design. The space will also allow Ivy Tech to “flex” over the next 10 to 15 years and become more future-focused, especially as Industry 4.0 and the “internet of things” expands.

Construction of the iFlex Lab is estimated to cost $3.8 million. The Community College has received funding for the project from multiple sources, including the tax increment finance fund of C.R. 17 and C.R. 6, from which the project received $1.47 million. From the Labs for Industry Futures and Transformation (LIFT) Network, funded by the Lilly Endowment, the project received $1 million.

The hope is to have the facility fully operational by the fall of 2021, according to the chancellor for the South Bend-Elkhart campus, David Balkin. Meeting that goal has required the community college and its collaborators to work at an unusual speed, he said.

“No Ivy Tech building, since the founding of the college in 1963, has been conceived, designed and constructed faster than the one that’s going up behind you,” he said. “We’re moving so fast, I’m thrilled that we’re able to squeeze in this groundbreaking before the building opens for classes.”

Elkhart County Commissioner Suzie Weirick praised the collaboration between the many involved community stakeholders who all see the need for keeping the local workforce ready for the future.

Elkhart County, known as the RV capital of the world, is dependent on RV manufacturing to a point that many local leaders share a belief that the local economy must become more diverse. The RV industry offers many employment opportunities in good times but was hit hard during the Great Recession, resulting in high unemployment rates locally. Weirick said that, with the workforce being developed at Ivy Tech’s new facility, Elkhart County will further its ability to attract new businesses, which should result in a more diverse economy.

Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann said the project is not just about the community as a whole, but also the individuals who will come through the iFlex Lab programs. “Together we really are changing lives, one student at a time, while building a stronger workforce, stronger industry, stronger employers, stronger local economy,” she said. Though construction had already begun, officials “broke ground” for the new iFlex Lab at Ivy Tech in Elkhart on Wednesday.

See The Elkhart Truth report here.

Source: https://rvbusiness.com/ivy-tech-iflex-lab-in-elkhart-to-boost-advanced-manufacturing/

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Liegl Signs ‘Pledge To America’s Workers’ at VIP Event

As reported yesterday by RVBusiness, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt was joined by U.S. Senator Todd Young and U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) as they highlighted the importance of outdoor recreation and the resurgence of the American economy during a Wednesday (Aug. 19) visit to East To West RV, according to a release from the Interior Dept.

Following a tour of the facility’s manufacturing operations, Forest River Inc. and East To West RV signed President Trump’s Pledge to America’s Workers, committing to invest in their workforce and expand job opportunities in Indiana.

Since 2018, more than 440 companies have signed the Pledge to America’s Workers, committing to support more then 16.3 million job and training-related opportunities for American workers. More Americans are getting back to work as the economy continues to rebound and reopen. Over the past three months, 9.3 million jobs have been added.

“The Trump Administration is working to enhance the visitor experience on our public lands – places like the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge – so more Hoosiers can enjoy recreating in the great outdoors,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “Many recreational visitors utilize RVs to experience national parks, refuges and campgrounds throughout the country. I applaud these business leaders’ commitment to support the Pledge to the America’s Workers and for providing great job opportunities in Elkhart, the RV capital of the world.”

“The Great American Outdoors Act will support tens of thousands of jobs in the state of Indiana,” Senator Young said. “Aside from National Parks themselves, no other industry will benefit as much from the GAOA as the RV industry. When parks are well-kept, when facilities are maintained and improved, and when conservation is prioritized, people naturally will want to visit these national treasures, many of which are right here in Indiana.”

“Manufacturers in Elkhart – the RV Capital of the World – know the importance of investing in the current and future American workforce,” said Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02). “Their commitment to building opportunities and creating jobs for hardworking Hoosiers will be key to our economic recovery. As we continue to rebuild our nation’s economy, the Great American Outdoors Act will improve access to our public lands and give Indiana’s outdoor recreation industry an added boost. I’m grateful for the leadership of President Trump and Secretary Bernhardt in protecting our national parks, defending the American worker and supporting Hoosier manufacturing.”

“Our country’s iconic national parks are one of the most favored destinations for RVers. We are grateful to the leadership of Secretary Bernhardt in ensuring these public lands receive the funding they deserve,” said RV Industry Association Vice President of Government Affairs Jay Landers. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Secretary and his team as they implement the Great American Outdoors Act to identify projects that will make the biggest impact to improve the access, safety, and enjoyment of RVers for generations to come.”

“East to West RV is excited to sign President Trump’s Pledge to America’s Workers as we are committed to hiring more great employees and helping them grow with our company,” said Lisa Rees Co-General Manager of East to West RV.

At East to West RV, Secretary Bernhardt discussed the Department of the Interior’s (Interior) role in facilitating outdoor recreation across the country, managing approximately 500 million acres of land, and how RVs help the public visit America’s national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands.

More than 80 percent of RVs sold in the US are manufactured in Indiana with demand increasing throughout the United States amid COVID-19. In Elkhart County, the RV Industry has an annual economic impact of $14.5 billion and supports nearly 35,000 jobs, 178 businesses and pays $2.5 billion in wages.

Following the tour and signing at East to West RV, Secretary Bernhardt traveled to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to meet with National Park Service employees and inspect facilities that have deferred maintenance needs. The Great American Outdoors Act, recently signed by President Trump, provides $1.9 billion a year for the next five years to address deferred maintenance needs at national parks, refuges, American Indian schools and other public lands throughout the country.

By: RVBusiness|Published on: Aug 20, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News|https://rvbusiness.com/forest-river-signs-pledge-to-americas-workers/

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NextLevel Jobs: Rapid Recovery Program Expansion

Federal funding through the CARES Act has enabled the temporary expansion of Next Level Jobs as part of the Rapid Recovery for a Better Future initiative. This expansion adds a significant number of training programs and extends eligibility to Hoosiers who have an existing two- or four-year degree. These Rapid Recovery Expansion programs and eligibility will expire December 30, 2020.

Download PDF to Learn More

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Water Monitor Named ‘Coolest Thing’ in Elkhart County

Wednesday, June 24th 2020, 12:07 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 24th 2020, 12:18 PM EDT
By Mary Willkom, Writer/Reporter

The SonSetLink Water Monitor was voted 'Coolest Thing Made in Elkhart County' (photo courtesy of Made in Elkhart County)

The SonSetLink Water Monitor was voted ‘Coolest Thing Made in Elkhart County’ (photo courtesy of Made in Elkhart County)

ELKHART COUNTY – The Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s “Coolest Thing Made in Elkhart County” campaign has named its winner. The SonSetLink Water Monitor, developed and built by SonSet Solutions, earned the top honors.

The water monitor is a universal satellite monitoring system that reports data on the health of water systems in underdeveloped countries. SonSet says the system can track information such as the number of gallons flowing from a single system as well as the levels of chlorination in the water.

Inspired by the Vibrant Communities initiative in Elkhart County, the campaign culminated with a public vote. The bureau says SonSetLink Water Monitor received nearly 25% of all votes.

More than 4,000 votes were cast between June 1 and June 15 for 30 different products from ice cream to RVs. The campaign was first announced in January.

The winner was announced via the Made in Elkhart County Facebook page on Wednesday.

SonSet says it has deployed more than 750 water monitoring units to more than 25 countries across the world so far.

The top ten winners are listed below:

  1. SonSet Solutions: SonSetLink Water Monitors
  2. Janus Motorcycles: Halycon 250
  3. Bonneyville Mille: Grist Mill Flour
  4. Vanilla Bean Creamery: Amish Peanut Butter Ice Cream
  5. Electric Brew: Bald Brothers Coffee
  6. Lizard Loves Mustache Costumes: Fursuits
  7. Antonio’s: Vegas Fortuna
  8. Soup of Success: Mittens on a Mission
  9. Rocket Science: Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream
  10. Agdia: ImmunoStrips

Source: https://www.insideindianabusiness.com/story/42284898/water-monitor-named-coolest-thing-in-elkhart-county

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enFocus Creates Innovation Team to Support iNDustry Labs

enFocus, a key resource for talent attraction in the South Bend-Elkhart Region, today (June 22) announced the creation of a new, dedicated industry innovation team to support iNDustry Labs at Notre Dame. The University of Notre Dame, with support from Lilly Endowment Inc., established iNDustry Labs in 2019 to unlock the competitive advantage associated with the region’s concentration of manufacturing in proximity to a global, tier-one research university.

enFocus has built a team of Fellows boasting backgrounds in engineering, industrial design, data analytics and digital operations. They are currently joined by summer interns from notable engineering programs including the University of Notre Dame, University of Michigan, Purdue University and Northwestern University. The Fellows provide support to iNDustryLabs Faculty and staff in their collaborations with businesses in the region as they develop and implement strategic plans for product and process innovation to diversify and grow business operations. Through the process, businesses gain access to technical expertise and innovation-based facilities available through iNDustry Labs.

Since its inception in 2012, enFocus has proven to be a key resource for talent attraction in the region. Through a two-year Fellowship program, recent graduates from a wide range of disciplines are paired with sponsored projects to drive innovation in local organizations. Much of enFocus’ work to-date has focused on serving the public, education and non-profit sectors. The launch of the Labs for Industry Futures and Transformation (LIFT) Network created an opportunity for enFocus to expand their activities to support innovation-based economic development, through iNDustry Labs at Notre Dame.

Michael Shoemaker, most recently a process engineer with Ford Motor Company, will lead the enFocus team as Program Director of Industry Innovation. Michael holds a bachelors and masters degree in Engineering from the University of Michigan, and joined enFocus in 2018.

“We recognize the difficulty local business leaders often have in finding technical talent that can help identify and implement digital advancements that result in competitive advantages,” said Shoemaker. “enFocus has demonstrated success in attracting the young talent needed to take local organizations to the next level, and we are excited to support iNDustry Labs in this effort.”

“We are thrilled with the caliber of technical talent enFocus brings to iNDustry Labs’ operations,” said John DeSalle, iNDustry Labs Executive Engineer-in-Residence and former President of Hoosier Racing Tire Corp. “Ultimately, our goal is to help build regional resilience with our manufacturers and regional industry to ensure they become or remain global competitors in a technologically advanced economy.”

Source: https://rvbusiness.com/enfocus-creates-innovation-team-to-support-industry-labs/
By: RVBusiness|Published on: Jun 22, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News

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Two Elkhart nonprofits come together to teach entrepreneurship, lead sanitizer fundraiser

How does hand sanitizer help teach about business?

A well-known Elkhart company and two nonprofits have worked out a deal to make that happen.

They’re teaching entrepreneurship while helping others stay safe. It involves Junior Achievement and Startup Moxie in Elkhart County .

Both teach kids about business and are selling hand sanitizer to benefit both programs and those dealing with the coronavirus.

“It was our thought when we first thought to join together that we would like to continue together to support our programs in entrepreneurship, and one way we could do that is selling hand sanitizer as a fundraiser,” said Jessica Hilary.

The money would go back to both non-profits.

It was made possible with help from Kem Krest, a chemical packaging company providing the hand sanitizer.

“We were able to work with Amish Shah and Kem Krest, who in their true entrepreneurial spirt has pivoted one of their business units as well to produce hand sanitizer,” said Lizzie Sheets. “We do need to raise funds and this is a great opportunity.”

The company had initially started producing hand sanitizer back in March as a response to shortages, especially for first responders and organizations on the front lines of the pandemic.

To help out, they increased production.

Both organizations will be selling a box of 12 bottles for $50 for the fundraiser. Now, if you have enough sanitizer, you can buy an extra box and donate it to Elkhart County schools.

“During this challenging time, we do need to raise funds and so this is great opportunity,” said Sheets.

The fundraiser runs through June 17. Starting June 18, orders can be picked up at Jimtown High School.

You can purchase from the Junior Achievement event page here, or from Moxie’s page here.

By Ed Ernstes, WSBT 22 Reporter | Thursday, June 11th 2020

Source: https://wsbt.com/news/local/two-elkhart-nonprofits-come-together-to-teach-entrepreneurship-lead-sanitizer-fundraiser

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Lighthouse Autism Center Expands in Elkhart

Wednesday, June 3rd 2020, 2:24 PM EDTUpdated: Wednesday, June 3rd 2020, 7:05 PM EDTBy Mary Willkom, Writer/Reporter

(photo courtesy of Lighthouse Autism Center)

(photo courtesy of Lighthouse Autism Center)

ELKHART – Lighthouse Autism Center is expanding its services in Elkhart County. The organization says it plans to open the new applied behavior analysis center in July and expects to create an additional 35 jobs in the area.

Lighthouse says the new location will be its second ABA center in Elkhart and its ninth total facility. The center first opened in Mishawaka in 2012.

“In August of 2019, we opened our first Elkhart center. Since then, we have been overwhelmed by the number of families inquiring about therapy services for their children. Clearly the need for autism therapy services is great in this community, and we feel privileged to be able to help meet that need,” said Gregg Maggioli, co-founder and chief executive officer of Lighthouse Autism Center.

Similar to its current Elkhart location, the new building will have the capacity to serve more than 20 children.

Lighthouse says the newest center will continue proactive health and safety measures, including masks for all employees, extra staff for cleaning and sanitation, limited building capacity, and symptom and temperature checks for children and employees.

Lighthouse is now enrolling children at its newest location, and you can find more information by clicking here.

Source: https://www.insideindianabusiness.com/story/42206873/lighthouse-autism-center-expands-in-elkhart

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Ameri-Kart to Build $10M Plant, Add Elkhart County Jobs

By: RVBusiness|Published on: Jun 6, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News

Ameri-Kart, a Myers Industries Inc. company and a rotational molder and thermoformer, announced plans Friday (June 5) to expand its Elkhart County manufacturing operations, consolidating its Michigan and Indiana operations in Bristol, Ind., and creating up to 210 new jobs by the end of 2022.

“Thanks to manufacturers like Ameri-Kart growing and producing in our state, Indiana continues to build on its reputation as one of top manufacturing states in the nation, with nearly 30% of our state’s economic output coming from the manufacturing industry,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger. “We’re grateful Ameri-Kart chose to continue growing its Indiana operations, and are excited to support their continued success in our state.”

Ameri-Kart, which manufactures a broad range of custom plastic parts within the RV, marine, agricultural, construction, manufacturing and safety industries, will invest approximately $10.1 million to construct and equip a new, state-of-the-art production facility in Bristol on 32 acres at 1667 Commerce Drive near I-80/90 and I-94. The new 234,000-square-foot facility will accommodate the consolidation of Ameri-Kart’s existing operations in Bristol, as well as its operations in Cassopolis, Michigan. Construction is underway, and the company plans to begin relocation in staged phases this fall and be fully moved into the facility by early 2021. The move will support the company’s efforts to increase efficiency of operations and enhance customer service.

“We are excited to be making this investment in our community,” said Kristian Stankiewicz, president of Ameri-Kart. “The larger, modern facility will allow us to continue delivering highly innovative products and quality service to our customers and provide an improved work environment to our employees.”

The company, which currently employs 138 associates in Bristol and 85 in Michigan, plans to begin hiring for positions in professional and production roles in Bristol beginning late September. Interested applicants may apply online.

“The Town of Bristol is both excited and grateful that Ameri-Kart has selected our town to locate their new state-of-the-art production facility,” said Bristol Town Council President Jeff Beachy. “Ameri-Kart has been a great business partner for many years, with their current facility located just outside Bristol town limits, so when they approached us about building their new facility in our North Industrial Park we were more than excited and supportive of their project. We look forward to seeing the new facility as it springs to life from the once vacant property, into a thriving business. We wish Myers Industries, the Ameri-Kart leadership team and their employees much success as they invest in the growth of their business operations, their new facility and also for their investment they are making in the Town of Bristol.”

Founded in 1989, Ameri-Kart manufactures a wide range of molded plastic parts and assemblies that meet customer design specifications and production requirements for a variety of industries. The new facility will accommodate state-of-the-art rotomold and thermoform manufacturing technologies, an improved lean equipment layout and automated workflows. Coupled with ergonomic and biophilic design throughout the building, these improvements will drive increased efficiency, and further enhance employee productivity and job satisfaction.

Source: https://rvbusiness.com/ameri-kart-to-build-10m-facility-add-jobs-in-bristol-ind/

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