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                                    Elkhart, Ind.-based Forest River Manufacturing Inc. will spend $7 million to build its first recreational vehicle production site in Michigan over the next three years.

MLiv.com reported that the expansion into White Pigeon is expected to mean 396 new jobs over the next five years. The complex will be situated on what is now green space at 500 W. Chicago Road in White Pigeon.

According to regional economic development organization Southwest Michigan First, the project involves erecting three buildings, one each year over the next three years. Each will be a 100,000-square-foot, all-metal, prefabricated structure. Hiring is to begin in October.

The expansion project will receive a $350,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant and the Village of White Pigeon is expected to  support to the project with a property tax abatement.

Ron Kitchens, CEO of Southwest Michigan First which worked with Forest River to bring them to south Michigan, said the builder is looking for plumbers, electricians, carpenters and people with similar skills. “Not so much those who have experience with auto plants,” he said.

“They just simply didn’t have the labor ability in Northern Indiana,” Kitchens said, when asked why River Forest plans to expand into Michigan. “They believed that moving north into Michigan, they could find the skilled labor.”

Kitchens said Forest River will initiate some new product lines in White Pigeon but company managers have not said what lines they will be.

For the full report click here. For a related story click here.