Benteler Automotive recently announced plans to invest up to $26 million into its Goshen facility. Joseph Weiser | The Goshen News
Benteler Automotive recently announced plans to invest up to $26 million into its Goshen facility. Joseph Weiser | The Goshen News
GOSHEN — International auto parts maker Benteler Automotive has plans to invest up to $26 million into its Goshen facility, but it needs the Goshen City Council’s help to make it happen.

That was the word from plant manger Earl Mattson, who went before the council’s members Tuesday to ask them to declare an economic revitalization area for the Goshen plant. The request was ultimately approved in a vote of 6-1 in favor.

According to Mattson, Benteler plans on adding up to $26 million in new equipment to the Goshen plant this year, upgrades he says are needed due to the company’s recent securing of a number of big, long-term parts contracts with major companies such as Ford and Honda.

However, in order to make that $26 million investment, Mattson said the company needs some assistance from the city in the form of a five-year tax phase-in, which is a partial or temporary exemption of a company from having to pay property taxes with the express purpose of stimulating economic development.

According to Mark Brinson, community development director for the city, Tuesday’s request by Benteler for an economic revitalization area declaration was the first step in securing that process, as such revitalization areas must be established by the council before they can move forward with considering a tax phase-in.

In making his case for the request Tuesday, Mattson noted the planned investment will ultimately allow the company to increase its annual sales from about $65 million today to around $118 million by 2022.

Central to that growth, he said, are the large parts contracts recently secured by the company, such as a five-year contract to make parts for the Honda CRV, or an eight-year contract to make parts for the Ford Bronco.

“I think the takeaway from this is, the programs we have landed are long-term programs — five, six, seven years — so that means that we are going to stay stable,” Mattson said of the company’s ongoing commitment to the Goshen community. “So, we will grow from $65 million in 2020 to $118 million in 2022. That’s a huge growth for our plant and we’re excited to have that opportunity.”

According to Mattson, the planned investment will include a new hot steel line for the Goshen plant at a cost of about $11.8 million. The plan also calls for investing an additional $6.4 million to increase the number of laser units at the plant, as well as $4.8 million to increase the number of plant weld cells and an additional $3 million for planned press upgrades.

While the company’s current investment plan does not include any plans to hire additional workers at the site, Mattson noted the plan does include investing about $200,000 to provide additional training for many of the approximately 295 Goshen workers already employed at the plant.

“We’re really going to get that growth from training,” Mattson said. “As we bring in this new technology, we have to talent up our workforce. The plan is to talent up this plant so that we can compete globally.”

Of the council’s seven members, councilwoman Julia King, D-At-Large, was the sole “No” vote on the request, which she cast after questioning why all Goshen companies aren’t offered such tax incentives, rather than just a select few.

For his part, Brinson noted not all Goshen companies meet the city’s established criteria for securing tax phase-ins.

“Goshen is probably the most conservative community, at least in Elkhart County, as far as rewarding abatements. We’ve done this vary rarely,” Brinson said. “I think when we came out of the recession, we did a lot more. But as far as today, we have many, many opportunities to do the same thing, but we felt this was a unique opportunity for Goshen. A lot of companies would like to have the same thing, but they don’t meet the guidelines in the policy.”

With the requested economic revitalization area now officially declared, council members indicated that a vote on the actual tax phase-in request by Benteler will like occur sometime in February.
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