Forest River Opening New Plant

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Forest River

Elkhart-based Forest River Inc. plans to create about 130 more jobs in Ligonier, Ind., within the next two months.

This story by Sherry Slater originally appeared in The Journal Gazette.

Forest River Inc. is investing millions to buy and equip a vacant factory to build Puma brand travel trailers, Ligonier Mayor Patty Fisel said Wednesday. The company, which couldn’t be reached for comment, plans to ramp up production by Oct. 1, she said.

Fisel believes the relatively high wages might persuade some residents who commute to other cities to apply for jobs closer to home. The pay could also attract commuters into Ligonier to work, she said.

Workers will start at $15 to $18 an hour and can eventually earn up to $40 an hour, depending on experience and position, she said.

Forest River’s interest in Ligonier was a surprise to the mayor, who hadn’t aggressively promoted the property that has been empty for only a few months.

The 118,000-square-foot building at 710 Gerber St. is the last available large plant in the city’s industrial park.

A zoning change enacted Tuesday evening will allow Forest River to use some of the 10-acre site for outdoor storage, a make-or-break detail, Fisel said.

The company isn’t asking for tax breaks for buying the property or on the value of equipment being moved in.

The manufacturer’s need for more production space could lead to a second Forest River deal within the next year, Fisel said. Ligonier’s industrial park has space to grow, including lots measuring 51, 31 and 24 acres.

The Berkshire Hathaway-owned company operates more than 85 plants, which employ about 11,000 workers nationwide, according to corporate videos available online.


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