Berne gains nearly $17 million in building projects in 2013

Authored by Jim Langham on Feb 19, 2014

Berne Mayor Bill McKean told those attending the annual mayor speech luncheon at the American Legion in Berne on Tuesday that new buildings, expansions and remodeling in the city last year amounted to $16,927,160 in value.
Residential building resulted in six new buildings, six expansions and three remodels for a total of 26,749 square feet and value of $1,000,500. Commercial expansion, said McKean, resulted in three new buildings, five expansions and two remodels totaling 257,479 square feet totaling $15,926,660 in value.
“Shannon Smitley is the city building and planning director and also the storm water superintendent and street inspector,” said McKean. “As you can see, 2013 was a very busy year for his building department; it has been wonderful to have our own building and planning director.”
McKean acknowledged that it is going to be a real challenge to match this year’s success.
“This has been an exciting year in many ways, starting off by expanding our tax abatement to include a super tax abatement,” said the Mayor. “Both the council and myself felt that if we are going to compete with surrounding counties for businesses with quality jobs, we needed to be proactive.
“We have already seen a positive reaction from the business community including companies like FCC-Adams, Key Fasteners, Smith Brothers Furniture and the First Bank of Berne,” added McKean.
McKean noted that the FCC-Adams addition is about 75,000 square feet at a cost of $6.3 million, including $35 million in equipment. McKean said that the expansion should bring 50 additional jobs to a present work force of 240 people.
Key Fasteners is adding 38,400 square feet on to its plant which will add an additional 10 employees to a work staff now of 87 people. The local factory supplies all of the bolts and nuts to every Honda manufactured in North America.
“Berne has always been known for its furniture manufacturing and Smith Brothers of Berne is definitely doing its part to preserve our title of, ‘Berne-the furniture capital of Indiana,’" McKean said. “By this summer, it should occupy the latest addition, which is a two-story expansion of 110,000 square feet, plus a new loading dock.”
The mayor pointed out that Smith Brothers now has 300 employees with an additional 45 people to be added when construction is complete.
McKean said that even though his father had worked for many years at Berne Furniture Company (now closed) he had nothing but praise for Smith Brothers for purchasing the empty building and razing it.
“The City of Berne says a big ‘thank you’ to Smith Brothers for taking down a potential eyesore,” observed McKean.
“It is great to see the progress that is taking place at First Bank of Berne’s Operation Center, along with the expansion of the North Branch Bank,” McKean said. “Although the main bank downtown is going to relocate to the North Branch, it is reassuring to know that the bank is committed to keeping a presence downtown by opening a branch on Main Street. The bank anticipates adding 10 additional salaried positions once construction is complete.”
McKean also lauded the work of work force manager Kurt Dailey, sanitation head Gregg Moser, water department head John Crider, waste water treatment plant manager Terry Kongar, street superintendent Gary Nussbaum, fire chief Crider and compost and mosquito control expert Jay Sprunger for their service to the city.
At the city office, McKean appreciates the work of mayor administrative assistant Becky Sprunger, deputy clerk Susan Schaffter and Clerk Treasurer Gwen Maller.
“I would also like to thank Jim Beitler who served as city attorney during the first two years of my term. I would also like to thank Dave Baumgartner who has now assumed that role,” McKean said. “As Mayor, I am very blessed to work with a great council: Curtis Wurster, Ron Dull, Mark Wynn, Phil Provost and Gregg Sprunger, who serves as council president.”

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