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The Elkhart County Council gave initial approval Saturday (July 14) to a tax phase-in for a $6 million RV factory being built in northwest Elkhart.

According to an Elkhart Truth report, the council passed a declaratory resolution to establish an economic revitalization area at the site of East to West and North to South Inc., to be built at C.R. 6 and C.R. 101. The plant would employ 325 people on a payroll of $16.9 million, and could potentially employ twice as many if it expands further in the future, according to Mark Dobson, president of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County.

He said the company started out as an independent operation but is now a division of Forest River Inc. It represents a new way to do things, he noted, with a simplified plan that results in better quality 

“It’s a simplification of the manufacturing process, simplification of the floorplans, especially at an entry level, that should result in a higher-quality recreational vehicle,” Dobson said. “It cuts down on the flaws as they come out of the factory.”

The simplified plan also results in a lower cost for the vehicle, he continued. 

“In a trailer operation there are 28 different floorplans with 50 different color combinations. You could imagine what that does to the cost and quality situation when you have so many variations coming down the line,” Dobson said. “There will be fewer floorplans, fewer options, it should streamline the manufacturing process (and) bring something to the market at a little bit lower cost than the competition, and I think it represents kind of a strengthening of the RV process.”

He said building has started on the first two facilities there, and the county is now competing for buildings three and four. If Elkhart wins the entire project, it should represent about 650 jobs in total.

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