Forest River Inc. held a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday (May 13) for its $7 million development in White Pigeon, Mich., where the Elkhart, Ind.-based company will build towable RVs.

MLive.com reported that the foundation for the first of three, 100,000-square-foot, pre-engineered steel buildings it will use as a production center, will be poured next week. And the first round of hiring to fill what is expected to be 396 new jobs here over the next three years, is to begin in October, the company said.

“We’re very excited about coming up here and tapping into the White Pigeon and Three Rivers work force,” Mike Stump, spokesman for Forest River, said at the groundbreaking.

The maker of travel trailers, popup tent campers, buses, pontoons and other recreational vehicles will convert space on what has been 46 acres of corn and soybean farmland into the biggest job gain the village, and all of St. Joseph County, has seen in years.

“This is just one of the biggest things to happen to White Pigeon in a long, long time,” said village President Dan Czajkowski. “This community, like many, has gone through the recession and had some hard times. And it is really deserving of something like this happening.”

He was among county, state and regional officials who thanked Forest River for choosing southern Michigan to expand, miles north of its base in northern Indiana.

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