Smoker Craft Invests $12 Million In New Indiana Facility

The expansion will help Smoker Craft meet increased consumer demand, and create up to 100 new jobs.

Smoker Craft Inc., a fifth-generation, family-owned boat and pontoon manufacturer, will invest $12 million to construct and equip a 200,000-square-foot space on its current 600,000-square-foot production campus in New Paris, IN. The new facility, which will be used for additional boat manufacturing and shipping, will create up to 100 new jobs by the end of 2024.

“Smoker Craft Inc. started construction on a 200,000-square-foot warehouse and shipping facility,” said Tim Jones, Vice President of Finance for Smoker Craft. “This expansion will be used to increase efficiencies to the loading process and allow us to ship not only more boats to our dealers all over North America, but raise the quality of the delivered product. The warehouse portion of the project is designed to free up manufacturing space in all three of our product lines: Aluminum fishing boats, pontoon boats and fiberglass deck boats.”

“This expansion will help meet the increased demand for our product throughout our dealer network,” Jones added. “We look forward to bringing more quality jobs to New Paris, and continuing our growth in the marine industry.”

Smoker Craft
Photo: Smoker Craft

The announcement comes nearly seven years after Smoker Craft announced plans to expand operations in New Paris, investing $4.1 million and creating up to 100 new jobs by the end of 2018. The latest expansion project will allow the company to serve growing customer demand. Construction has begun, and the new building is expected to be fully operational by April 2022.

“With homegrown Hoosier companies like Smoker Craft at the helm, Indiana will continue driving its economy forward, positioning our state for long-term economic stabilization and growth,” said Jim Staton, SVP and Chief Business Development Officer for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). “We’re excited Smoker Craft chose to continue propelling its growth here in Indiana, creating even more quality career opportunities for Hoosiers.”

Founded in 1961, Smoker Craft produces aluminum fishing boats, fiberglass sport boats and next-generation performance pontoons. The business sells its boats through a domestic and international network of more than 300 dealers.

Based on the company’s job creation plans, the IEDC committed an investment in Smoker Craft of up to $600,000 in the form of incentive-based tax credits. The IEDC will also commit up to $200,000 from the Hoosier Business Investment (HBI) tax credit program based on the company’s planned capital investment in Indiana. These tax credits are performance-based, so the company is eligible to claim incentives once employees are hired and investments are made. The Elkhart County Council approved real and personal property tax incentives.

“We are extremely pleased that Smoker Craft Inc., a legacy Elkhart County company and a leader in the boating industry, continues to thrive and grow additional production capabilities in New Paris,” said Chris Stager, President of the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County.

The company, which currently employs 800 U.S. associates, including 770 in Indiana, is hiring for computer numerical control (CNC) welding positions. Interested applicants may apply online.



New RV Manufacturer, Encore RV, Launches in Elkhart, Ind.

By: RVBusiness | Published on: Sep 1, 2021 | Categories: Today’s Industry News

ELKHART, IN – A new RV company is launching at a time when the RV industry struggles through a shortage of workers and supply chain issues. Despite these issues, Encore RV is charging forward, almost embracing the headwinds many companies are facing today, according to a press release from the company.

Encore RV was founded in 2020 by Rich Schnippel, who has been involved in the RV and motorsports trailer industry since 2000, since 2010 with inTech RV.  The new company is planning to introduce their product during the upcoming Elkhart Open House, later this month.  In their inaugural year, Encore RV invites dealers to stop out at their manufacturing facility in Elkhart to look, not only at the campers, but also the production facility and see what makes this company unique.

Encore’s first product line, RŌM, will target the lightweight adventure trailer market that has become increasingly popular over the past 5 years, and Schnippel was a pioneer, designing several of today’s most popular models.  “Our desire is to create a product line which stands apart from other adventure trailers currently offered,” Schnippel stated, “we’ve designed the most well thought out and functional trailers in the market.”

One of the biggest standout features in the RŌM series is the 100% wood-free construction.  Every RŌM trailer showcases a lightweight, fully welded, all-aluminum frame and chassis.  To maintain the wood-free product, Encore utilizes composite floors and interior walls, while cabinetry is manufactured using precision CNC laser cut aluminum. This results in a strong, long-lasting and lightweight product.

Schnippel added, “I think people are going to be surprised at the value we’ve provided.  A lot of time has been spent meeting with and listening to both dealers and retail customers.  They’ve made it clear what’s important and we’ve incorporated those ideas into our designs and construction.  I’ve always enjoyed the design process and creating products which evoke real emotion…a passion you can see and hear when you’re talking to owners. It’s this passion which drives our innovation and motivates us to be better every single day.”

Encore has already begun establishing their dealer network and will be entertaining additional opportunities during the Open House, the release states.

If you would like to see the new RŌM series and learn more about Encore RV, stop out during the Open House. Encore RV is located at 4340 Pine Creek Road in Elkhart, Ind., just a short drive from the RV Hall of Fame.

Contact Rich Schnippel  at or by cell phone at 440-570-3030.



Forest River Amped Over $850M EV Partnership

Tuesday, August 10th 2021, 3:18 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, August 10th 2021, 3:23 PM EDT

By Wes Mills, Content Manager

ELKHART – Elkhart-based Forest River Inc. is partnering with a Colorado electric vehicle company to manufacture zero-emission shuttle buses in a deal valued as high as $850 million. Forest River, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A) will produce the interior and shell of the shuttles, while Lightning eMotors (NYSE: ZEV) will manufacture the powertrain systems.

Final assembly will take place at a Forest River factory in Goshen. The partnership calls for up to 7,500 Class 4 and Class 5 buses across the U.S. and Canada over the next four years.

“We’ll be providing our customers with a factory-installed electric powertrain that has proven technology relied upon by major fleets, at a price point no one else has been able to achieve,” said Forest River Bus Division President David Wright.  ”We believe this will be a game changer for shuttle-bus operators.”

The buses will have between 12 and 33 passenger seats and bus lengths of 20 to 34 feet.

Forest River says manufacturing of the EV shuttles has already begun. The company expects to deliver several dozen of the buses to its dealers by years’ end.



South Bend – Elkhart Region Now Accepting Program and Project Proposals for READI Program Application

SOUTH BEND – ELKHART, Ind. ​​​​​​(July 1, 2021) — Following the public launch of Get READI South Bend – Elkhart held on June 17th, the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership has opened the online Get READI South Bend – Elkhart Submission Form for project and program organizers to provide details about their concepts and share details about the project or program including the goals, partners, impact and funding breakdown.

Proposals are segmented into two categories:

  1. “Regional Cities” Projects are brick and mortar, quality of place projects that can have significant impact on the region. 
  2. Strategy-Driven Programs and Projects should be aligned with one or more of the five advisory committees for strategic initiatives through the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. These committees include:
    • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Education and Workforce
    • Industry Growth
    • Talent Attraction and Retention

For project and programs to be considered in the shaping of the South Bend – Elkhart region’s vision for the READI proposal, submissions must be received through the online form by 11:59 P.M. EST on July 18, 2021.  

“The South Bend – Elkhart region has a strong track record of performing well under pressure, and this timeline is no exception. We are excited to see what communities across the South Bend – Elkhart region have in mind to shape a better future that advances economic growth, attracts and retains top talent,” says South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership President and CEO, Regina Emberton.  
“Regional Cities” Projects will be shared with the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Development Authority for consideration. Strategy-Driven Programs and Projects will be shared with the five advisory committees of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. Following the closure of the online form, the advisory committees will review and align programs and themes identified with the guidance of Fourth Economy, the third-party consultant engaged to support the region’s proposal development. 

The intake of Strategy-Driven Programs and Projects and the Regional Cities Projects does not guarantee inclusion in the South Bend – Elkhart regional READI application. Should a project or program be selected for inclusion into the application, no promise of READI funding is being made, nor if a project or program isn’t included in the application does that mean it would not receive funding. 
To access the online Get READI South Bend – Elkhart Submission Form, please visit our website by clicking here. For those that submitted an “idea” through the previous form, please submit greater details about your project or program through this link.

Summary of READI Program Timeline:

  • July 1, 2021: Communities must identify their region and notify the IEDC 
  • July – August, 2021: Regions develop strategic plans 
  • August 31, 2021: Regional plans are due 
  • September – October, 2021: IEDC application review and regional presentations 
  • December, 2021: First round of investment decisions are made and financial partnerships announced ​​​​

About South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership
The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership is a collaboration of the economic development partners from 47 smart connected communities in Northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan. The Regional Partnership focuses on a long-term systemic approach to advance the region’s economy by aligning the efforts of various stakeholders around five key areas: Educating a world-class WORKFORCE, Recruiting and retaining great TALENT, Attracting and growing new economy companies in complement to our remarkably strong manufacturing INDUSTRIES, Promoting INCLUSION and sparking opportunities for minorities and Helping ENTREPRENEURS thrive. The Regional Partnership seeks to unify and collaborate so that together, the communities across the region to work together to achieve what cannot be done individually.

For more information about the Regional Partnership, visit



Manufacturing Readiness Grants Extended Through 2023, $20M Available

Launched in 2020, Manufacturing Readiness Grants have awarded $6.7 million to 87 Hoosier companies in 38 counties.

Applications for the Manufacturing Readiness Grant program, which was launched to stimulate private sector investments to modernize Indiana’s manufacturing sector, have re-opened to Indiana manufacturers across the state. Administered by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) in partnership with Conexus Indiana, this program has been extended through June 2023 with matching grants available to help respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic and position Hoosier operations for future growth and prosperity. Based on the strong response to the program, the Indiana General Assembly appropriated $20 million in the two-year state budget that runs through June 30, 2023.

Indiana companies are encouraged to review eligibility requirements and submit applications online.

Grants must be matched by the applicant on a minimum 1:1 basis. Grants undergo a rigorous peer review and recommendation process by a statewide committee of manufacturing professionals representing industry, academia, private equity and more.


MJB Wood Group Breaks Ground on Bristol, Ind., Expansion

By: Ron Barger Published on: Jun 23, 2021

With earth-moving machines in the background, business dignitaries and elected officials gathered Tuesday (June 22) afternoon to celebrate the groundbreaking for a new 500,000-square-foot production and distribution facility for the Dallas, Texas-based MJB Wood Group LLC.

The new facility will be located on a 37-acre parcel on State Road 120 in Bristol, Ind., just south of Country Road 21.

MJB Wood Group Board Members
MJB Wood Group board members Beth Parish, Timothy Coors and President Scott Griggs accept a commemorative plaque from the Elkhart County team.

Expected to open in April of 2022, the new facility will consolidate the current MJB Wood Group’s existing 228,000-square-foot facility in Elkhart, Ind., and will eventually employ over 100 people – about twice the number the current facility employs.

Cliff Caudill, the division manager for MJB Wood Group, said the facility will serve both the manufacturing and distribution side of the company, which among its other operations provides composite and engineered wood, plywood, LVL and LSL to the RV industry.

“We will be on about 38 acres in this 400-acre complex,” he told RVBusiness. “Mainly dedicated to distribution and inventory of products as well as some light manufacturing and assembly. We will be bringing in some new equipment and new capabilities for MJB to support the RV industry, as well marine, utility vehicles and cargo trailers.”

He explained that some of the support to these industry segments will encompassing more of its business units and include furniture and fixtures, millwork, doors and entry doors. Additional fabrication onsite will include cut-to-size panels for area OEMs as the facility includes a 100,000-square-foot fabrication area that will allow it to offer custom services such as cut-to-size, CNC machining, molding, kitting and light assembly.

“This will more than double our capacity for outbound goods,” added Caudill. “There will be semi bays in the new facility for outbound.” According to the company over the past five years, MJB has experienced tremendous growth in the region, exceeding 18% year-over-year revenue.”

Prior to the groundbreaking itself, Scott Griggs, a 14-year veteran of MJB who was promoted to its president in July 2020, took time to the share the future vision of the company with RVBusiness.

“Currently, our general manager, Cliff, and his team have done an amazing job with the limited capacities we are in currently,” Griggs said. “Now, with this new 500,000-square-foot facility, we will be integrating manufacturing and distribution into one location instead of three making us far more efficient. This will give us the ability to better service the RV industry and industries beyond giving us a platform to serve a Midwestern region.

“We are a unique company because, although RV is our biggest industry segment, we are heavy into doors, millwork, cabinets, fixtures and furniture. We bring in a lot of imports. So, we are one of those companies that put components of products into everyone’s daily life but they have never heard of us.”

Griggs added that having the rail spur was key for the new facility. “Not only having the rail spur here, but being able to unload the cars inside the facility is a game changer for our company,” he said. “Now we have total indoor unload with greater capacity and better efficiencies. Rail was a non-negotiable on this project for us. We just had to have it.”

“We are really thrilled to be here with this expansion at this exciting time,” added Nathen Klomp, MJB’s director of business development and marketing. “Business has been very strong over the past few years and this is something we’ve been wanting to accomplish. With as good as things are going in the RV industry and generally in the U.S. we think this is a strong play for us to support this industry in this region.”

MJB Chairman of the Board Timothy Coors, a fifth-generation member of the Coors Brewing family, summed up the day’s events.

“The Coors family is proud owners of MJB, and we are very excited to expand our investment and workforce in Bristol and Elkhart County to serve our growing, primary end markets of RV, cabinets, furniture, and transportation,” said Coors. “In Bristol, Ind. we truly have a supportive partnership with the city, county and community.  We could not have selected a better place to locate our new state-of-the-art facility for MJB.”

Stonemont Financial Group is the developer of the project and ARCO Construction Company is the general contractor.  Josh Wheeler of Stonemont Financial Group Development stated, “We are really excited to have a partner in MJB Wood with this big, rail-served facility that is their first facility of this type and will be one of their flagship operations around the country.”

It’s worth noting that also in attendance of the event were 10-plus government officials from the city, township, county and state, including Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, who recognized the team effort that went into bringing the facility to Elkhart County.

Other dignitaries at the groundbreaking were: Indiana State Rep. Joanna King; Elkhart County Commissioners Frank Lucchese, Brad Rogers and Suzanne Weirick; Elkhart County Councilmember Douglas Graham; Bristol Town Council President Jeff Beachy; Bristol Town Councilmembers Whitney Pierle and Jill Swartz; Bristol Town Manager Mike Yoder; and Bristol Town Clerk & Treasurer Cathy Antonelli.



Employee Retention Credit Could Help Your Organization

Tuesday, July 14th 2020, 9:54 AM EDT | By Alerding CPA Group

Organizations that have been impacted financially by COVID-19 may be able to take advantage of a new, refundable tax credit called the Employee Retention Credit. The credit is designed to encourage organizations to keep employees on their payroll and is worth 50% of qualifying wages up to $10,000 that are paid by an eligible employer.  If your organization did not receive a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and meets other requirements, the Employee Retention Credit could help you sustain your operations.

Does my business qualify for the Employee Retention Credit?

This credit is available to all qualified employers regardless of size, including tax-exempt organizations, who meet the following requirements:

  • You have sustained declines in business due to COVID-19.
  • You have not taken advantage of a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.
  • You have not taken any other small business loans.
  • You are not a state or local government or their instrumentalities.

What is a qualifying employer?

There are two categories of qualified employers:

  • The employer’s business is fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19 during a calendar quarter.
  • The employer’s gross receipts are below 50% of the comparable quarter in 2019. Once the employer’s gross receipts go above 80 percent of a comparable quarter in 2019, they no longer qualify after the end of that quarter.

How is the credit calculated?

The amount of the credit is 50% of qualifying wages paid up to $10,000 in total. Wages taken into account are not limited to cash payments, but also include a portion of the cost of employer-provided health care. Qualified health plan expenses generally include both the portion of the cost paid by the employer and the portion of the cost paid by the employee with pretax salary reduction contributions. Amounts paid by the employee with after-tax contributions are not included.

What is a qualifying wage?

Qualifying wages are wages that are based on the average number of an organization’s employees in 2019. There are two different measures for an organization, depending on size:

  • Employers with less than 100 employees.If the employer had 100 or fewer employees on average in 2019, the credit is based on wages paid to all employees, regardless if they worked or not. If the employees worked full time and were paid for full-time work, the employer still receives the credit.
  • Employers with more than 100 employees.If the employer had more than 100 employees on average in 2019, then the credit is allowed only for wages paid to employees who did not work during the calendar quarter.

How do I receive the credit?

While many tax credits are available when filing a tax return, the employee retention credit works differently in that employers can be reimbursed immediately by reducing their required payroll tax deposits. Payroll taxes, which include federal income tax withheld as well as taxable social security wages and tips, taxable Medicare wages and tips, and additional Medicare tax withholding, are taxes that have been withheld from employees’ wages. Generally, these payroll tax deposits are filed quarterly on Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return.

When can I start reporting qualified wages?

Eligible employers should report their total qualified wages and the related health insurance costs for each quarter on Form 941 beginning with the second quarter (March 12, 2020). Wages paid through December 31, 2020, are also eligible for the credit.

What if my payroll tax deposits are less than the credit?

If the employer’s employment tax deposits are not sufficient to cover the credit, the employer may receive an advance payment from the IRS by submitting Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19



2021 Gold & Silver Shovel Awards Recognize State and Local Economic Development Efforts

Steve Kaelble, Staff Editor, Area Development

Although 2020’s global pandemic resulted in some projects being stalled or canceled, the annual Shovel Awards recognize many other new and expanded facilities plans that are on track and expected to create thousands of jobs and billions in investment.

Area Development’s annual Gold and Silver Shovel Awards recognize states for their achievements in attracting high-value-added investment projects that will create a significant number of new jobs in their communities. We asked for information from all 50 states about their top-10 job-creation and investment projects initiated in 2020. Based on a combination of weighted factors — including the number of new jobs to be created in relation to the state’s population, the combined dollar amount of the investments, the number of new facilities, and the diversity of industry represented — five states achieving the highest weighted overall scores were awarded Area Development’s Gold Shovels in five population categories: 12+ million, 8+ to 12 million, 5+ to 8 million, 3+ to 5 million, and fewer than 3 million. Three other states were awarded Gold Shovels for their achievements in the manufacturing sector. Finally, runners-up in each of the above population categories were awarded Silver Shovels.

AROUND THIS TIME A YEAR AGO, a lot of life seemed to be in a holding pattern, with progress on many things at a near standstill amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But not everyone allowed adversity to stand in the way of opportunity.

Indeed, while most of us were learning the term “social distancing,” exploring the ins and outs of masking, searching for toilet paper, and perfecting the art of sourdough baking, economic development leaders in quite a few states remained plugged into their phones and Zoom meetings, making impressive location deals. By many measures, 2020 was a downer of a business year, but our Shovel Awards unearthed plenty of good news.

Our state honors are based on information provided by economic development officials (see methodology), and the info was current at the time it was provided. Needless to say, the pandemic threw curveballs that may have altered some plans. But please read on for some of the best economic development news to emerge from a crazy year.


  • Texas (12+ Million Population)
  • North Carolina (8 to 12 Million Population)
  • Michigan – Manufacturing (8 to 12 Million Population)
  • Arizona (5 to 8 Million Population)
  • Indiana – Manufacturing (5 to 8 Million Population)
  • Utah (3 to 5 Million Population)
  • Alabama – Manufacturing (3 to 5 Million Population)
  • Kansas (Under 3 Million Population)

2021 Silver Shovel Awards

12+ Million Population Category

  • Florida

8+ to 12 Million Population Category

  • Georgia
  • Ohio
  • Virginia

5+ to 8 Million Population Category

  • Missouri
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee

3+ to 5 Million Population Category

  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Louisiana

Under 3 Million Population Category

  • Idaho
  • Mississippi

Creating Lots of Jobs
It was hard to miss all of the last year’s headlines focused on job loss. But in our Gold Shovel and Silver Shovel states, there were all kinds of headlines announcing major job-creating plans. The ones with four-digit job promises are discussed below — and a number of these big-job deals are also mentioned in separate sidebars focused on the year’s top projects.

Texas took home another Gold Shovel honor, pulled into the top slot among the most populous states by none other than an electric engine.

Tesla announced its Austin “gigafactory” project and very quickly started turning dirt and putting up steel (see the Tesla project sidebar). It’s a $1.1 billion investment, and it is expected to create some 5,000 jobs.

Amazon has a habit of sprinkling big-job projects all over the place, and it certainly didn’t disappoint the residents of the Lone Star State. The e-commerce and technology giant brought forth not just one, not just two, but three different Texas projects in 2020 — a thousand jobs each for Waco and Pflugerville, and 1,500 for Oak Cliff. Meanwhile, the company pledged $237 million and 1,500 jobs at a new fulfillment site in Windsor, the biggest jobs announcement of the year in the Silver Shovel state of Connecticut.

Another Amazon mega project was announced in Gold Shovel-winning Arizona, where as many as 1,975 jobs are slated for Maricopa County. And two Amazon projects were the biggest job creators announced in Silver Shovel-winning Tennessee, in Mount Juliet and Memphis, each expected to employ a thousand people and lots of robots. More 1,000-job Amazon projects are slated for Little Rock, in the Silver Shovel state of Arkansas, and Madison County, leading the way toward Mississippi’s Silver Shovel status. All of these “help wanted” signs, plus several smaller Amazon projects across the country, have been welcome in the midst of a pandemic-caused downturn. But of course, Amazon was one of the companies in the best position to benefit from the fact that so many people were choosing to shop from home.

Walmart had some 1,000-job distribution center projects of its own to add to the list. One, with an investment of $220 million, is slated for Dorchester County, in Silver Shovel winner South Carolina. Another, carrying a potential price tag of $606 million, was announced in the Indianapolis metropolitan community of Greenfield, in the Manufacturing Gold Shovel winning state of Indiana.

Another prominent company to benefit from the pandemic was Peloton, buoyed by the fact that so many fitness-focused people were forced out of the gym and into alternative fitness arrangements in their basements or spare bedrooms. Lots and lots of them bought Peloton products, and by December the company announced plans to expand its Plano campus and add some 1,600 Texas jobs in varying corporate functions. Texas also celebrated 1,200 jobs to be created by a FedEx Ground sorting facility in Dallas.

Leading the way in Gold Shovel-winner North Carolina was Centene, the health insurance giant from St. Louis that announced plans to bring 3,237 jobs to Charlotte in a regional and IT hub (read more on Centene in a project sidebar). Another big North Carolina job creator with an IT focus was the expansion of Bandwidth Inc. in Raleigh. The deal was a little more than $100 million in capital investment, with a promise of 1,165 jobs and a designation of Raleigh as corporate HQ.

Speaking of IT, Microsoft made big-job commitments in two places in 2020. Silver Shovel-winning Virginia landed a 1,500-job Microsoft deal in Fairfax County that was that state’s leading job creator.Atlanta also will receive 1,500 Microsoft jobs, the year’s top job creator in Silver Shovel winner Georgia (check the project sidebars for more on these two big deals).

In Lordstown, a community southeast of Cleveland in the Silver Shovel-winning state of Ohio, Ultium Cells’ joint venture between General Motors and LG Chem will create 1,000 jobs making lithium ion batteries for GM all-electric vehicles (find more info in the project sidebar).

Beyond the Amazon project mentioned above, Gold Shovel winner Arizona announced another pair of major job developments in 2020. The RealReal, an online luxury consigner, picked Phoenix for its fourth e-commerce center, saying it would hire 1,685 people over the next few years. And Taiwan Semiconductor in Phoenix will create 1,600 jobs making silicon chips (see the project sidebar).Missouri bolstered its Silver Shovel status with a pair of big-job projects. In St. Louis County, Accenture Federal Services plans to create some 1,400 jobs (see the project sidebar for more details). And in the Kansas City metropolitan community of Belton, pet products distributor Chewy announced plans for a distribution center that will begin with 1,200 new jobs and potentially grow to 1,600.

The biggest job-creating project of the year in South Carolina was in the business of agriculture and aquaculture. Located in Hampton County, the Agriculture Technology Campus is a $314 million, 1,500-job project located on a thousand-acre site filled with greenhouses, a distribution center, and a co-packing facility. Partners in the joint venture include Mastronardi, Clear Water Farms, LiDestri Food and Drink, and the GEM Opportunity Zone Fund.

Leading the job creation pack in the Gold Shovel state of Utah was the Northrop Grumman project in Weber County, where a $380 million investment is to create 2,250 jobs (see the project sidebar). Economic development officials are also sleeping well knowing that bedding and furniture maker/distributor Malouf plans to build a new corporate headquarters in Nibley, a project that comes with some 1,195 new jobs. Another healthy announcement totaling 1,159 jobs was in Lindon, where insurer GoHealth Inc. announced plans for a major expansion.

A few more deals promise four-digit job counts in our Shovel-winning states. Gold Shovel honoree Kansas had its biggest project — from both dollars-invested and new-jobs perspectives — in Kansas City, where Urban Outfitters announced plans for a distribution center. The $403 million project will create at least 1,734 jobs. In Hartford, Connecticut, Infosys will be expanding by 1,000 jobs more than already planned.

Last in this big-job part of the roundup, but most definitely not least, was the deal with the biggest price tag, $9.2 billion. Louisiana, which took home Silver Shovel kudos, will welcome Grön Fuels to the Port of Greater Baton Rouge (see the project sidebar).

SlideshowTop 2020 Projects By State

2021 Gold & Silver Shovel Awards: Projects Of The Year (2020)

Company City/County # Jobs Inv. Amt.
Tesla Del Valle, TX 5,000 $1.1 billion
Northrop Grumman Corp. Weber County, UT 2,250 $380 million
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Phoenix, AZ 1,600 $8 billion
Grön Fuels West Baton Rouge,LA 1,025 $9.2 billion
Ultium Cells LLC Lordstown, OH 1,000 $1.5 billion
CREE Wolfspeed Marcy, NY 614 $1.1 billion
Company City/County # Jobs Inv. Amt.
Centene Corp. Charlotte, NC 3,237 $1 billion
Microsoft Corp. Atlanta, GA 1,500 $75 million
Microsoft Corp. Fairfax County,VA 1,500 $64 million
Accenture Federal Services LLC St. Louis, MO 1,400 $28.5 million
Netflix Albuquerque, NM 1,000 $150 million

Healthy Investments
Needless to say, health was a front-and-center topic on everyone’s minds in 2020, as the pandemic was the most dramatic and disruptive health event many of us have ever experienced. The drive for better health and biotechnology advancement also inspired some significant investments within our Shovel Award-winning states. Some of these deals related directly to the pandemic response, but many involved other areas of biotech and life sciences.

North Carolina, for example, will welcome 878 life sciences testing jobs from BioAgilytix Labs in Durham, plus 500 jobs at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Greenville, 462 Eli Lilly & Co. pharmaceutical jobs in Durham, and 209 jobs in gene therapy at Audentes Therapeutics in Sanford (now known as Astellas Gene Therapies). Thermo Fisher Scientific also announced an expansion in Lenexa, Kansas, worth about 300 new jobs related to COVID testing, and the company pledged 250 jobs through an expansion in St. Louis, Missouri.

Lots of pharmaceutical headlines also promised jobs in South Carolina last year. Examples included Vigilent Labs in Charleston County, creating more than 400 new jobs at a COVID- 19 test manufacturing facility; Nephron Pharmaceuticals in Lexington County, expanding by 380 jobs; and Santa Cruz Nutritionals, expanding in Sumter County and creating 164 new jobs. Another pandemic-linked announcement was in Auburn, Alabama, where SiO2 Materials Science said it would spend $163 million expanding its facility, thanks to a federal contract for making COVID vaccine vials.

Pfizer continues to add to its footprint in Tampa, in Silver Shovel winner Florida. Its 2020 expansion announcement will create 300 new jobs, and the company has continued to unveil new Tampa plans as 2021 has unfolded. In Columbus, Ohio, Andelyn Biosciences announced plans for 170 jobs related to gene therapy contract development and manufacturing. Next door in Indiana, Elanco decided to move its global headquarters to downtown Indianapolis, a move that could create some 570 jobs.

Connecticut had plenty of healthy announcements, too. Examples included SCA Pharmaceuticals, expanding its Windsor production of compounded pharmaceuticals and adding 360 jobs; Sema4 in Stamford adding 300 jobs at a state-of-the-art clinical lab; and Putnam Plastics, which makes medical tubing and said it will expand in Killingly and add 250 jobs. SCA Pharma also pledged 175 jobs through an expansion in Little Rock, Arkansas.

And in Tennessee, local officials were smiling with the announcement from Smile Direct Club. The maker of teeth-straightening products is adding a new manufacturing facility in the community of Columbia, worth more than 600 jobs.

Top Fulfillment Center Projects*

Company City/County # Jobs Inv. Amt.
Urban Outfitters, Inc. Kansas City, KS 1,734 $403 million
Chewy, Inc. Belton, MO 1,200 $143.2 million
Walmart Greenfield, IN 1,000 $606 million
Walmart Dorchester County, SC 1,000 $220 million
Dollar Tree Marion County, FL 700 $232.5 million
Ross Stores,Inc. York County, SC 700 $68 million
Kroger/Ocado Frederick, MD 550 $245 million
*In terms of jobs + investment, excluding Amazon

Logistics Growth
The many Amazon projects spotlighted above provide a fine example of the economic power of logistics, especially in a pandemic time when more and more people want things delivered right to their door. And there were even more Amazon deals across the country that were just a bit smaller than the big-job deals listed above, including three in separate Kansas locations that together add up to a potential 1,650 jobs. But Amazon was far from the only player making big headlines in logistics, warehousing, and distribution last year — there was plenty of growth promised across the sector.

In Florida, logistics and distribution jobs grew by the hundreds. For example, hundreds of jobs were announced in support of Dollar Tree in Marion County. The first 200 jobs would be connected to a 500,000-square-foot new distribution facility, while a second phase could add another million or more square feet and 500 more jobs. Some 300 more are expected as part of a $342 million expansion by United Parcel Service in Jacksonville.

Next door in Georgia, fast-growing meal kit maker HelloFresh announced 750 jobs in Newnan, launching its first distribution facility in the Southeast — the company sells easy-to-make meals by the millions across North America, Europe, and Asia. Meanwhile, the clothing reseller ThredUp said it would expand its distribution operation in Duluth by 700 jobs, with a facility ranking as the company’s largest of five distribution centers.

Over in South Carolina, another 700 jobs were tied to an expansion in the Ross Stores warehousing and distribution operation in York County. The off-price apparel and home fashions retailer said it would invest $68 million and add the jobs over the next few years.

Retailing giant Kroger, meanwhile, picked the Michigan community of Romulus in Wayne County for a high-tech, automated fulfillment center that’ll cost $95 million and create more than 250 jobs. Competitor Meijer plans an expansion of its supply chain facility in Tipp City, Ohio, a $160 million project that could add more than 100 jobs. And another competitor, Aldi, has picked the Alabama community of Loxley in Baldwin County for a 200-job, $100 million distribution center and regional headquarters operation. The new center will allow Aldi to open some three dozen new stores in the Gulf Coast area.

Misfits Market also distributes food, but through a direct-to-consumer subscription model. The company announced a 200,000-square-foot cold storage facility in West Jordan, Utah, that is to create more than 600 jobs. And Associated Wholesale Grocers announced plans to build a $300 million distribution hub in Hernando, Mississippi.

UPS made headlines in Ohio, where it will move into a North Baltimore/Henry Township facility and create 606 logistics and distribution jobs, and in Alamance County, North Carolina, where a $262 million warehousing and distribution facility will create 451 jobs. And third-party logistics provider DHL will invest $72 million in a distribution center that will add 577 jobs in Stafford County, Virginia.

In Missouri, not far from the 1,200 Chewy distribution jobs mentioned above in Belton, BoxyCharm announced its own 250-job logistics and distribution facility. The company is a leader in the beauty subscription box business, and its Kansas City-area project is a 575,000-square-foot e-commerce operation. And Melaleuca, maker of health and wellness products, said it would expand its distribution operations in the Kansas City area with a half million-square-foot facility worth about 200 jobs.

In Greenwood, Indiana, a warehouse and service hub was announced by Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp., with more than 480 jobs on the line. Indiana is always active in the logistics sector, and NewCold picked Indiana for one of the largest cold storage facilities in the country. The $152 million facility just north of Indianapolis is expected to create about 200 jobs and hold more than 100,000 pallet positions for refrigerated products. Another big cold-storage facility was announced at the Pocatello Regional Airport in Idaho, courtesy of Frigitek Industrial Parks.

Manufacturing Big Headlines
Pandemic or not, there was still plenty of demand for manufactured goods. Alabama was a big beneficiary, named a Manufacturing Gold Shovel winner. Just a few examples of the activity there included 300 new textile jobs in Selma at contract sheeting manufacturer HomTex, 275 aerospace jobs through expansion at the Airbus aircraft facility in Mobile, and 279 auto jobs at DURA Automotive Systems, which broke ground in Muscle Shoals last August on a state-of-the-art facility that will make lightweight structures for such things as electric vehicle battery systems. The Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant in Huntsville, meanwhile, landed an additional $830 million investment to beef up its cutting-edge manufacturing technologies and provide enhanced training for up to 4,000 employees. The state also saw major expansion announcements such as a $775 million steel slab production facility at AM/NS Calvert, a joint venture involving ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel. More Alabama jobs are promised involving wood products at Pinnacle Renewable Energy in Demopolis and farm products at Coastal Growers in Atmore.

Another Manufacturing Gold Shovel winner was Michigan, with a host of headlines related to its automotive sector, including opportunities linked to the growth of interest in electric vehicles. For example, Magna Electric Vehicle Structures announced 304 jobs in St. Clair, where the company will build complex battery enclosures for the GMC Hummer electric vehicle. Dakkota Integrated Systems plans for a 400-job facility in Detroit, Wayne County, supplying various assemblies for Jeep products. From Wayne County’s Highland Park came a 480-job expansion announcement from Magna Seating of America, and there is to be a 225-job expansion at Detroit Manufacturing Systems. There also was news of an expansion at automotive seat-maker Bridgewater Interiors that will create 400 jobs and at the Paslin Co., where 200 new jobs are linked to a deal to supply parts for electric vehicle maker Rivian.

Just to the south in Manufacturing Gold Shovel winner Indiana, the automotive sector was busy, too. Electric Last Mile Solutions made a 960-job announcement in Mishawaka. It’s a startup electric vehicle maker, which plans to take over the old AM General plant where Hummers were produced; the vehicle it plans is an urban delivery van. Meanwhile, Subaru of Indiana Automotive in Lafayette said its assembly operation would grow by 350 jobs through an expansion that will add a service parts facility and transmission assembly shop.

General Motors’ big move into electric vehicles will mean an investment of nearly $2 billion in its plant at Spring Hill, Tennessee. It’ll be the automaker’s third facility making EVs. In Mississippi, Navistar Defense will create 500 jobs in an expansion of a military vehicle operation in West Point. Navistar International Corp. broke ground in San Antonio, Texas, on a manufacturing facility supporting its commercial truck and bus business that will employ some 600 people. And in Georgia, Hyundai Transys announced an expansion worth $240 million and 678 jobs.Florida continued to grow its aerospace and defense sector in 2020, where a 334-job Boeing expansion in Jacksonville aims to grow its maintenance, repair, and overhaul operations. And in North Carolina, engine maker Pratt & Whitney’s $650 million Asheville plant announcement carried an 800-job plan. Looking to the West, Gilbert, Arizona, welcomed the news of expansion at Northrop Grumman’s satellite engineering and manufacturing facility, which will employ more than 270 people.

The pandemic created a real run on sanitizing wipes, and that was good news for manufacturer Nice-Pak in Jonesboro, Arkansas. It announced plans for an expansion worth 300 jobs. Kimberly-Clark, which makes other kinds of sanitary products such as Huggies and Kleenex, said it would invest $140 million to expand in Corinth, Mississippi.

Louisiana enjoyed diverse economic development announcements, but its chemical and petroleum sector played a key role. Beyond the aforementioned Grön Fuels, there is a potential billion-dollar Mitsubishi Chemical announcement in Ascension Parish that may be worth 125 jobs — the company has begun feasibility studies for a methyl methacrylate manufacturing complex. An $825 million expansion at REG Geismar in the same area will create 60 jobs, as the company ups its capacity for producing renewable diesel. There also was word of a quarter-billion investment by ExxonMobil in its Baton Rouge refinery. Over in Texas, Max Midstream announced a billion-dollar, 474-job pipeline project in Point Comfort.

And Virginia’s job activity was diverse, too, including 350 jobs in self-driving vehicle software development at a TORC Robotics expansion in Montgomery County, and 332 jobs in ship repair and manufacturing at East Coast Repair and Fabrication’s new corporate and industrial campus in Newport News. Shipbuilding is also expected to create 200 jobs in Gulfport, Mississippi, where Gulf Ship landed a contract to make tugboats.

Tasty Deals
People have to eat, pandemic or not, and that helped earn Idaho a Silver Shovel. The state offered a long list of developments in the business of meat and food processing, led by a 520-job deal involving True West Beef in Jerome. The company is a partnership between Agri Beef Co. and a group of cattle ranchers and feeders, and it announced plans to build a 500-head-a-day beef plant. Lamb Weston said it would expand potato processing in Power County, thanks to healthy demand for French fries. Lactalis makes cheese in Nampa, Canyon County, and plans to hire more people to make more cheese, and GoGo squeeZ announced new jobs in Nampa. And Barley processor Scoular is investing $20 million in operations in Jerome that will make a high-protein barley concentrate for pet food and aquaculture feed, as well as a liquid feed supplement for cattle.

In Indiana, Gruma Corp. announced plans to make Mission tortillas in Plainfield, with 544 hires planned. Hershey announced a sweet expansion worth 110 jobs in Augusta County, Virginia, where Reese’s and other favorites come off the line, and the company is planning its Hershey Peanut Roasting Center of Excellence. Longtime Indiana snack-food maker Pretzels LLC pledged 281 jobs in Lawrence, Kansas, while Schwan’s said it would expand its pizza plant in Salina, Kansas, and add 225 jobs to what the company believes is the largest pizza production facility in the world.People have to drink, as well. The boom in energy drinks drove a 600-job new facility from sports beverage maker Bang Energy in Douglasville, Georgia, plus a 65-job Red Bull expansion in Glendale, Arizona. Mark Anthony Brewing, meanwhile, will hire 300 people to make White Claw Hard Seltzer, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and other tasty adult beverages in Richland County, South Carolina.

Our pets also have to eat, and they’re eating better than ever these days. That helped drive the 427-job, $265 million announcement by refrigerated dog and cat food maker Freshpet for a new manufacturing facility in Ennis, Texas. A PetIQ headquarters project in Eagle, Idaho, will create 171 jobs. Pet nutrition was also behind multiple announcements from Nestlé Purina PetCare, including a $450 million factory that will create 300 jobs in Eden, North Carolina; a $550 million expansion that will create 130 jobs making Fancy Feast in Hartwell, Georgia; and a new $550 million factory in Williamsburg Township, Ohio, that will create 300 jobs making Purina dry dog and cat food. And for when those cats are done eating…Nestlé Purina PetCare said it would expand its Tidy Cat factory in Bloomfield, Missouri.

Financial Services and Other Lucrative News
Florida continued to build its financial services sector in 2020 with a couple of significant announcements. A Citigroup announcement in Tampa is worth more than $65 million and 732 new jobs. And a PennyMac Loan Services expansion in Hillsborough will be responsible for 400 new jobs.

Georgia’s financial tech sector landed a 709-job announcement from Deluxe Corp. in Sandy Springs. The location will help businesses process transactions. In Ohio, Union Home Mortgage will expand its corporate headquarters in Strongsville, where 450 new jobs will be created. Utah’s Health Equity, which manages health savings accounts, announced expansion plans for Draper worth 550 jobs.

Virginia continues to make a name for itself in customer support, with a new SimpliSafe operation planning 572 hires at a Henrico County call center, and a T-Mobile expansion and relocation adding 500 more customer support jobs not far away.

Original article:


Supplier WAY Breaks Ground on Huge Facility in Elkhart

By: Gary Gerard | Published on: Jun 17, 2021

A crowd gathered today (June 17) for a groundbreaking for RV supplier WAY’s new 800,000-square-foot facility. (Photo credit: Gary Gerard/RVBusiness)

Leading RV supplier and distributor WAY broke ground today (June 17) on what will become, at 800,000 square feet, one of the largest buildings ever constructed in Elkhart County, Ind., where the company will combine all of its operations under one roof.

“It’s kind of a landmark of 35 years,” said Wayne Kaylor, WAY CEO. “Very exciting for WAY as a company, and a stepping stone for the next great things that we’ll be bringing to market. It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work and we’re very excited for today.”

Completion of the building, at 22244 Innovation Drive, Elkhart, is expected by the third quarter of 2022. The location is just north of I-80 and just west of Elkhart County Road 17.

Wayne Kaylor, WAY CEO, addresses those assembled for the ground breaking. (Photo credit: Gary Gerard/RVBusiness.

Founded in 2009 by Kaylor and the late Jim Conway as Way Interglobal LLC, recently rebranded “WAY” has grown into a soup-to-nuts supplier to RV-industry OEMs with product offerings including kitchen appliances, griddles and grills, coolers, fireplaces, furniture, ceiling fans, lighting, televisions, entertainment systems, solar panels, power stations, levels and jacks, tire carriers, sinks, showers, air conditioners, ducts and more.

During the ground breaking, Kaylor expressed gratitude to all those who attended the event to commemorate “this brick-and-mortar milestone.”

“We’ve been busy planning for the future and today begins the realization of that process,” he said. “I would like to thank the WAY team first and foremost for all the hard work they put in day in and day out in the office, warehouse and on the road to our customers. I would like to thank our customers for the commitment they show to WAY and our business partners that made this event possible.”

He also thanked the dignitaries and government officials in attendance for their support of the project, along with Nuway construction for its role in making the project a reality.

“I think back to when we began WAY in 2009 and how far we have come. We started with the mindset we could serve a growing RV industry, helping manufacturers provide high-quality products, and we built on this ever since,” Kaylor said. “My team and I strongly believe in the RV family lifestyle and the great benefits it provides. Through our persistence and dedication, we find ourselves on the brink of something very special.”

He said the event confirms the notion that WAY is here to stay, and that it has been growing rapidly by expanding product lines and adding great people to its team.

The next step, he said, is building the kind of space that will allow WAY to continue expanding its industry footprint.

“Our new headquarters is a commitment to our customers, but also to the region where many of us live and work,” he said. “We’re proud to call Elkhart County home and will long do this into the future.”

In addition to two locations in China, WAY currently operates two facilities in Elkhart and two in Niles, Mich., for a current total of 400,000 square feet. The new facility will double WAY’s existing capacity.

The expansion was driven by growth, and Kaylor said today WAY plans to expand its workforce by more than 30% in the next few years. That growth not only benefits WAY, he said, but also the Elkhart County region by providing more opportunities.

Shown (L to R) breaking ground for the new WAY building north of I-80 and west of Elkhart County Road 17 are: Chris Stager, president and CEO, Elkhart County Economic Development Commission; Corinne Straight-Reed, director of communications, Elkhart Mayor Rob Roberson; Doug Miller, District 48 Indiana State Rep.; Fred Ramser, account executive, Nuway Construction; Wayne Kaylor, CEO, WAY; Andy Nesbitt, president, Nuway Construction; Zachery Potts, district director for U.S. congresswoman Jackie Walorski; David Behr, director, north central region of the Indiana Economic Development Commission; and Levon Johnson, president, Elkhart County Chamber of Commerce. (Photo: Gary Gerard/RVBusiness)

“While today is the beginning of this exciting journey, we laid the foundation for this day long before the shovels ever broke the ground,” he said.

“I am absolutely excited about this project,” said Levon Johnson, president of the greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce. “The city is excited about it. The opportunities that arise here and the investment by WAY into this area is absolutely appreciated. We will do anything that we can do at the Chamber to help continue the growth that WAY is committing to, especially as we think about the people who will be working in this state-of-the-art facility.”

Andy Nesbitt, president of Nuway Construction, characterized the project as “huge” for his company. “It’s one of the biggest buildings ever built in Elkhart County under one building permit. It’s 18.6 acres under one roof. It’s just a really big building and a good project,” he said.

Fred Ramser, Nuway Construction account executive, said he has been working with WAY for the past five or six years on various projects before getting to this point. “It’s exciting to see businesses grow. That’s what we like to do at Nuway, help our customers get to the next level,” he said. “And it’s a big project. It’s the biggest project Nuway has done, square-foot wise. It’s a fun challenge to build something this big,” he said.

Others of note in attendance included:

  • Chris Stager, president and CEO, Elkhart County Economic Development Commission
  • Corinne Straight-Reed, director of communications, Elkhart Mayor Rob Roberson
  • Rob Roberson, Elkhart mayor
  • Doug Miller, District 48 Indiana State Representative
  • Zachery Potts, district director, U.S. congresswoman Jackie Walorski
  • David Behr, director, north central region of the Indiana Economic Development Commission
  • Rebecca Rea, business development, Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce
  • Chris Greer, vice president of development, WAY
  • Tom Halbert, vice president of sales, WAY
  • Stewart Blackburn, vice president of finance, WAY
  • Mike Hester, vice president of operations, WAY
  • Kelly Davis, director of finance, WAY



Dexstar Wheel Awarded $590,000 for Expansion Project

Steel wheel and rim manufacturer Dexstar Wheel, a division of global tire manufacturing leader Kenda, was recently offered up to $590,000 in tax credits through the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) Tax Credit program for its ongoing and planned future  expansion project that will take place at the Dexstar facility in Elkhart, Ind., fueling growth and bringing new jobs to the region.

“Dexstar is thrilled to be expanding our commitment to the Elkhart community and our employees,” Bill Blumka, Dexstar Wheel general manager, stated in a release. “This investment serves to allow Dexstar to build upon our position as a premier provider of high-quality wheels to the RV industry in Northern Indiana as well as the many other segments we serve. We are very appreciative of the support from the IEDC (Indiana Economic Development Corp.) to our investment and helping Dexstar further its commitment to the Elkhart community, our employees and the many customers we serve. Additionally, I would like to thank Dexstar Manager Matt Wilkinson for his outstanding leadership in bringing this initiative to fruition.”

To support its growth, Dexstar Wheel is committed to hiring up to 60 new full-time employees. The increased staffing is in addition to Dexstar’s current 80 employees. The existing and newly created production and support staff jobs are high-paying, with expected average hourly rates between $20-22. This expansion is anticipated to be fully in place by 2023.

“With the state’s business-friendly environment, skilled workforce and strong manufacturing sector, Indiana offers companies like Dexstar Wheel the perfect location to expand their operations,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger. “We’re excited Dexstar Wheel is choosing to fuel its growth in Elkhart, increasing its manufacturing footprint and creating quality career opportunities for Hoosiers in north-central Indiana.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Dexstar Wheel up to $590,000 in conditional tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning the company is eligible to claim incentives once Hoosiers are hired.

For more information about Dexstar, visit or call 574-295-3535.

About Dexstar Wheel
Dexstar Wheel, a division of global tire manufacturing leader Kenda, is its North American steel rim and wheel manufacturer serving some of the largest original equipment manufacturers and distributors in the trailer and RV industries in the world. ISO certified, Dexstar is distinguished by a long history of quality, unsurpassed service and high capacity automated state-of-art operations.  At the core of its reputational and manufacturing excellence are strong engineering and technical capabilities – automation and robotics strengths along with the use of the highest quality materials to produce products superior in the industry.  In Elkhart, IN, Dexstar is committed to doing the right thing the first time every time – a philosophy of continuous improvement delivered by quality people to exceed customers’ expectations.

About Kenda
Founded in 1962, Kenda is a global leader in tire development and manufacturing. With over 12,000 employees and factories worldwide, Kenda continues to expand product offerings in the automotive, bicycle, powersports, trailer/specialty, and wheelchair markets. Kenda takes pride in operating under the core values of honesty, innovation, quality, and customer service to provide the highest level of products and services to customers across the globe. For more information, please visit

By: RVBusiness|Published on: Dec 1, 2020|Categories: Today’s Industry News|


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