By Ed Ernstes (email@example.com)
6:54 PM EST, December 28, 2011
TOPEKA – More people know what it's like to be out of a job in LaGrange County than most others in the state. At one point during the recession the unemployment rate hit 14.9 percent – the second highest jobless rate in Indiana. But things have been improving, and on Wednesday there was a major announcement in the town of Topeka bringing even more hope.
“It will be a great addition to the town of Topeka,” said Ron Eash, town manager.
Word began filtering through Topeka Wednesday morning about expansion plans at the Crossroads RV operation there. A new 93,000 square foot production facility going up at the existing campus, along with new equipment to expand production of towable RV's.
The company says it could lead to 250 more jobs by 2014.
Several sites were in the mix.
“It came down to three different locations,” said Eash. “They were looking at Topeka, Syracuse, and possibly going west.
It is believed that the quality of the labor force was a factor in bringing the operation to Topeka.
“Companies come here for the labor because we have an active, honest, hard-working labor force and that’s brought a lot of people here already to set up business,” said Dewayne Bontrager, town clerk-treasurer.
Now in addition to the new jobs, there will be a ripple effect with the expansion project. It could translate into more business for local suppliers and businesses in and around the area.
“Every time you provide more jobs, you got more activity downtown, the gas stations, the eating places and the tax base keeps going up,” said Bontrager.
“Well, it adds 250 new jobs, and it puts more customers at our gas station, and helps us to sell more food and more gas,” said Chrissy Cope who works at a BP gas station.
“It means there is going to be more traffic,” said Tom Miller with Topeka Pharmacy. “It means there are more dollars floating in the community, which is good. It’s also a reward, I think, for the work ethic, over here.”
Right now, the town is working on a ten year tax abatement plan for the company, to make the expansion project happen. Officials say the first hundred new jobs could come in in the near future. The rest by 2014.
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