Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

A Kendallville company announced Monday it plans to add 65 skilled jobs paying an average of $14 an hour to its plant operations, the News Sun reported.

The News Sun is published by Business Weekly parent KPC Media Group.

Stephen Geist, operations manager for Creative Liquid Coatings Inc., told city officials his company is purchasing robots for material handling, pumps hoses and other accessories for a paint line in the former Budd Co. building in the East Industrial Park. Noble Paint Co. owns the building and operates the former Budd Co. paint line and an injection molding department in the 319,000-square-foot building on Marion Drive.

“Our new contract for Chrysler starts in July, and we plan to have the new employees hired by August,” said Geist, who announced the job creation as part of his company’s tax abatement request at a special Redevelopment Commission meeting. Commissioners review tax abatement applications for the East Industrial Park included in the city’s Eastside Tax Increment Financing district.

Commissioners recommended the City Council grant 10 years of abatement for Creative Liquid Coatings Inc. on $2 million of new equipment.

Commissioners also recommended council grant Noble Paint Co. an amended tax abatement for 10 years on $8 million of new equipment for the same facility.

Dave Koenig, Region IIIA’s executive director, explained to commissioners the abatements are linked not only for the same facility but for similar equipment. In June 2005 the council granted Noble Paint Co. 10 years of abatement on $6 million of new equipment. Noble Paint Co. officials told the council the company was purchasing a paint line from a former General Motors plant in Canada and moving it to the former Budd Co. building.

At the time Noble Paint Co. officials announced the company would eventually have 125 employees. Due to the economic downturn and fall-off in automotive sales nationally, the company’s plans were put on hold. Equipment was moved to the Kendallville site but not installed. “It was dormant,” said Koenig.

Noble Paint Co. did not initiate the paperwork with the state for its tax abatement, and the abatement was never finalized, according to Koenig and Mayor Suzanne Handshoe. The amended abatement application is necessary because council had granted the Noble Paint Co. abatement in 2005.

Noble Paint Co. currently has 60 employees operating the existing paint line and the injection molding equipment, said Geist, whose company will be operations manager for the site. The amended abatement for Noble Paint Co. includes an additional $2 million for new equipment, according to Geist.

Amended abatements are not unusual, and state tax abatement regulations allow amendments, according to Koenig. With the 65 new jobs added to the existing 60 jobs, the original tax abatement job creation pledge will be met.