Local business expansion continues to promise new jobs

Authored by Jim Langham on Jun 26, 2013

Members of the Berne City Council gathered on Monday evening with those who promoted funds for the new equipment at the Lehman Park for a ribbon cutting. Several children who were playing on the equipment at the time joined council members for the photo. The new equipment, which was constructed earlier this spring, replaced older pieces of equipment that had been condemned.
Key Fasteners Corp. and Smith Brothers of Berne appeared at Monday’s Berne City Council meeting to request tax abatements for job-embracing expansions.
“We plan to expand on our facility, a large expansion to bring in equipment,” commented John Johnson of Key Fasteners Corp. “We anticipate being done by the end of the calendar year.
“This is being done to support the growing business we see now,” continued Johnson. “We’re also going to be bringing in production from Japan.”
The new facility will include a $16 million building and $8 million of equipment. Johnson said the facility would bring about the addition of 10 new jobs, but more importantly, it would give stronger assurance to the 87 jobs already provided by the company.
“Our plant shapes every single wheel nut used by Honda in America,” observed Johnson. “We are using new types of technology driven by our current economy.”
Attorney James Beitler commented that the company would be assured a regular tax abatement, based on council approval, on Monday. However, following a special hearing on July 8, determination will be made to see if the company scores for the new Super Phase-In Tax Policy.
Once again Dave Burson appeared before council requesting abatement for continued phases of expansion for Smith Brothers of Berne. Burson said that the latest expansion would create 45 new jobs to the company’s already booming work force. He noted the expansion is worth $5 million in real estate and $1.7 million in machinery and equipment.
Burson noted that the company will pay $750,000 in taxes over the next 10 years for jobs retained and $39,000 in new taxes over the next three years.
The new expansion will involve 55,000 square feet for two floors, totaling a 110,000 square foot project.
Burson noted that the average salary is now a little over $32,000.
According to Burson, the business continues to grow at a record pace. He noted that the company has just earned the business of a three-store dealer in Nashville. Also, the company gained the business of a five-store dealer last week.
Council granted the request, with the understanding that a study will be done to determine point totals in examining Smith Brothers’ status for obtaining the new super tax rate.
Also on Monday, council amended the Super Phase-In Policy to establish 150 percent of the state minimum wage as the threshold for scoring with satisfaction for points needed in the phase-in.
“If companies don’t pay that, they’re not going to get a Super Phase-In,” said Beitler. “We’re trying to attract solid businesses and wages for our workers in this community. In order to qualify, companies are going to have to pay 50 percent more than state minimum wages.”

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