By ALICE CULP
South Bend Tribune
8:07 PM EDT, September 26, 2012
SOUTH BEND -- Gov. Mitch Daniels believes that RACO's expansion in South Bend could be the start of more good things to come as far as economic development.
"Anytime a new job comes to Indiana, we're happy," Daniels said Wednesday at a news conference announcing RACO's plan to relocate its central distribution center from South Holland, Ill., to South Bend.
"When it comes from a neighboring state, honestly, in a tough competition, it's a good sign about the business climate we've built."
He's extra happy, he said that the company is locating in South Bend.
"It's a part of a pattern I see of a new energy and a new appreciation for the private sector growth that pays all the bills and taxes," he said.
In the past couple of years, more than 30 companies from Illinois and Michigan have relocated to Indiana.
"It's starting to look like a stampede," he said.
RACO, a division of Hubbell Inc., plans to invest $1.5 million to lease and equip 100,000 square feet in the Ameriplex complex located near Cleveland Road and the St. Joseph Valley Parkway. The location will serve as the company's primary warehouse for all of its products.
"We reviewed a lot of financial elements -- everything from utility rates to tax rates to freight rates to access to customers," said Chris Hildebrand, vice president and general manager of RACO.
"When we looked at all that, South Bend -- and the state of Indiana -- was the best place to be for us."
The company plans to have the shell of the building up before winter, so that it is ready for operations in the second quarter of 2013.
RACO, a steel electrical junction box manufacturer, has offices throughout North America, Europe and Asia and employees at 14,000 globally -- about 220 of those are in South Bend.
The company expects to add between 60 and 80 new employees to that number by 2015.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered RACO up to $600,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $50,000 in training grants based on the company's job creation plans.
None of the incentives can be claimed until Hoosiers are hired.
The city of South Bend approved an additional property tax abatement.
Daniels said he's seen a "whole new attitude and new vigor" in South Bend's approach to attracting companies. He said Indiana needs to continue to lower the cost of hiring Hoosiers and make it easier for companies to locate here.
"I think South Bend has embarked on a new era where it's doing that. You've always had natural advantages -- location, road building."
He does feel that Indiana has lost "its inferiority complex."
He said other states actually are looking to imitate Indiana when it comes to economic development.
"There's a lot of positive features here. There always have been. That's why the town has historically been so strong."
Mayor Pete Buttigieg agreed that the announcement could be the first "sign of what South Bend's comeback looks like."
"I hope we will have many more positive steps to show what teamwork can deliver when it comes to good-paying, good-quality jobs for the people of South Bend."
Staff writer Alice Culp:
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