Forest River Manufacturing LLC will spend $7 million to build its first recreational vehicle production site in Michigan over the next three years.
The expansion into Michigan, from the company’s headquarters in Elkhart, Ind., is expected to mean 396 new jobs over the next five years.
According to regional economic development organization Southwest Michigan First, the project involves:
– 396 new jobs over the next five years;
– A $7 million investment in buildings and infrastructure in what is now green space at 500 W. Chicago Road in the Village of White Pigeon.
– Three buildings are to be erected, one each year over the next three years. Each will be a 100,000-square-foot, all-metal, prefabricated structure.
-Hiring is to begin on October.
Forest River Manufacturing Inc. is a national company that manufactures recreational vehicles, tour coaches, travel trailers, fifth wheels, pop-up tent campers, commercial vehicles, transit buses, shuttle buses and pontoons. It is a division of Berkshire Hathaway Co.
According to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which announced the project as one of two expansions just approved for Michigan Strategic Fund grants, Forest River is launching new products and plans to build the three facilities in the Village of White Pigeon to house each line.
Ron Kitchens, chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First, said the company has not identified which product lines it intends to build in Michigan. He said SWMF has been working with the company for the past year to bring the project to fruition.
The Village of White Pigeon is offering support to the project in the form of a property tax abatement. The project’s job-creation and the anticipated capital investment of more than $7 million, is expected to result in a $350,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. The grant money is to primarily be used for training and star-up costs, Kitchens said.
According to the state, Michigan was chosen over competing sites in Indiana.
The Michigan Strategic Fund also awarded the Village of White Pigeon $1.6 million in Community Development Block Grant funds for the project. That is to be used for on-the-job training for 264 employees at the new facilities.
Michigan Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, praised the expansion, calling it “outstanding news for the hard-working people of St. Joseph County and the entire region.”
“I applaud the leaders of Forest River Manufacturing for their commitment to the White Pigeon community and the entire state,” he said in a press release, “and I extend to them a big ‘thank you’ on behalf of Southwest Michigan residents.”