NAPPANEE — The first phase of a plan to bring new industry to Nappanee was approved Monday by the City Council.

The council approved a declaratory resolution — the first step in a five-year tax phase-in for an $18 million project by U.S. Rod. Redevelopment Commission Executive Director Jeff Kitson said they’ve been calling it “Project Lefty.”

Mark Dobson, president and CEO of the Elkhart County Economic Development Corp., was present at the meeting as well as U.S. Rod manager Charles Wood and investment representative Su Min Lim.

The $18 million investment the company, which manufactures products related to the oil and gas industry, is making in its first phase is for equipment. Dobson said they are conservatively expecting to add 50 jobs at an hourly rate of $20 to $23.65 an hour.

City officials have been working on “Project Lefty” for about nine months. Mayor Phil Jenkins said that he and Kitson have been involved in the project and toured the company’s facilities.

“For us, it will be diversifying our economy — the petroleum industry is different than RV, and the fact that they’ve invested $18 million in equipment speaks volumes,” he said.

Jenkins told the council the facility this company will be moving into is at 502 Oakland Ave., which was the former Ameritrans Bus facility. Ameritrans moved into a larger facility across the road.

Jenkins also pointed out the company is intentionally using local contractors whenever possible. Both of the company representatives expressed gratitude for the warm welcome and cooperation they’ve experienced so far.

The next step for the City Council is a confirmatory resolution and a public hearing on the tax phase-in. The public hearing is set for Nov. 19.

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