A recreational vehicle manufacturer’s strong sales is driving an expansion that could pave the way for more economic growth in Elkhart County’s northeast corner.

The Elkhart Truth reported that Grand Design RV has purchased 80 acres across the road from its C.R. 2 production complex north of Middlebury and plans to build a new plant there, county and company officials have confirmed.

To serve the new facilities, Grand Design plans to spend $517,000 to connect to the White Pigeon, Mich. sanitary sewer system and another $1 million to widen the road. A $250,000 state grant will offset some of the sewer costs, and Grand Design will be reimbursed for both projects slowly over the next 10 years or so from new property tax revenue collected in the area as its value grows with more economic development.

The county redevelopment commission on Thursday (Feb. 26), unanimously approved plans for the projects.

“It makes those companies possible,” said county community development director Laura Coyne. “We can’t support a large company with that many jobs with a septic system. It’s not good for the environment or the economy. We think this is the beginning of a considerable amount of economic activity.”

Grand Design also will be reimbursed with fees that companies pay to connect to the sewer line. This could include companies who already are operating facilities on C.R. 2 but want to switch from septic to sewer, such as Evergreen RV, Lippert Components Inc., ARBOC Specialty Vehicles, Champagne Metals and NRC Modifications. Coyne noted that none of those companies have signed on to connect with the sewer line.

There also is undeveloped farmland in the area.

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