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Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., of Goshen, Ind., is moving ahead with plans for a new manufacturing facility in nearby LaGrange, according to a report in the Goshen News.
Last week, the LaGrange Board of Zoning Appeals OK’d the rezoning of about 12 acres purchased by Dutchmen for manufacturing use. Dutchmen, a subsidiary of Jackson Center, Ohio-based Thor Industries Inc., is anticipating final approval by LaGrange County officials that would allow the company to break ground in early spring on the new facility, which would replace an aging plant in Middlebury, Ind.
Dutchmen Marketing Director Joe Hosinski said the more than 20-year-old Middlebury plant is no longer meeting the company’s needs. The proposed new facility, where the wood-framed, aluminum-sided Dutchmen and Four Winds lightweight travel trailers will be produced, will have more square footage and be able to handle larger units with slideouts.
The Middlebury plant is one of the company’s original facilities and employs about 100 people. Hosinski said the employees will be shifted over to the new facility and about 50 more workers will be added over the next three years.
Along with the additional space, Hosinski said, Dutchmen wants to create a better working environment for employees.
“We want to give them a better place to work,” he said, noting that the old building may still be used for other manufacturing purposes.
The Goshen News reported that Dutchmen operates facilities in Bristol, Syracuse and Middlebury, all in close proximity to the company’s home base in Goshen, and employs about 1,000 workers.
LaGrange County Economic Development Coordinator Jac Price told LaGrange County commissioners at their last meeting the Dutchmen project is proposed to cost $1.5 million to $2 million.
Price said it he believed the only thing standing in the way of the project is community concern over safety issues for the predominantly Amish community in the area.
Company representatives met with the Amish community, and Price said it appeared both parties felt a proposed 1,940-foot bike path would ensure the safety of students bicycling to school.