The Braun Corporation is investing in the Winamac area with a proposed expansion of more than $5 million going into the plant over the next couple of years. Nathan Origer, executive director of the Pulaski County Community Development Commission, told WKVI that the county council this week approved a 10-year tax abatement for the expansion. The expansion involves the creation of 65 new jobs in Winamac, and the retention of 30 existing jobs that would otherwise have been let go due to a production line that had been closed down.
While not all the newly created jobs will be given to county residents, Origer said it is still a great gift to the county.
“In one respect, it’s almost impossible to elaborate on just what a gift this is to Pulaski County. Braun is already far and away the largest employer; they’ve got just a little more than 800 people working in Winamac, and of those 800, somewhere between 350 and 400 are Pulaski County residents. The number of jobs they’re creating if that same 46-ish percent ratio of residents to total employees continues, we’re looking at 35 new jobs for residents,” Origer said.
While that number may seem small, but take into consideration the fact that the county only has around 7000 people on the labor force rolls at any given time, and Origer said it’s a nice bump up for the area.
“We don’t have the capacity for, you know, 200, 300 jobs at a time. This is hitting the sweet spot, and the property tax investment, the increases we’ll see in income taxes, the increase we’ll see in money – payroll that residents have to be spending in the area – it’s just fantastic,” Origer said.
The company makes wheelchair accessible vehicles and lifts and is spending $7.5 million to relocate production from its facility in Kalamazoo, Mich. A new production line should be fully operational next year and will allow Braun convert additional Dodge, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota minivans into rear-entry, wheelchair accessible vehicles. The company is also adding another production line to accommodate the conversion of trucks and SUVs.
Origer said the council approved the abatement for parts of the expansion, particularly personal property, such as equipment and other items. He said the business is looking at purchasing more than $2 million in assessed value worth of equipment to go into the plant over the next couple years.
He explained this goes a long way to show the company’s dedication to the area, as Nick Gutwein and Ralph Braun both have strong ties to the community.
“The relationship they’ve had, the workforce that they have been able to find in this community – they don’t see any reason they’d ever have to pick up and leave. Nick is originally from Pulaski County, Ralph Braun spent his entire life here in Winamac. Ralph was dedicated to this community, Nick is dedicated to the community, the entire management and workforce of that company is dedicated to Winamac and to Pulaski County, and I think more than any words could ever prove that, the investment they are making in this location right now shows how deeply dedicated they are to continuing to grow in and with Pulaski County,” Origer said.
Origer said the expansion should wrap up sometime late 2015. The Indiana Economic Development Foundation offered the Braun Corporation up to $500,000 in additional tax credits and up to $10,000 in training grants based on its job creation plans. The company will only qualify for these and other local incentives if it meets its hiring and expansion goals. Braun Corporation is already interviewing candidates for additional engineering, management, information technology, sales, marketing and aftersales positions and anticipates more hiring over the next year. Find more information about openings online at www.braunability.com.