135 new jobs are still coming to Allen County, but not to New Haven

Elissa McGauley

An industrial expansion originally planned for New Haven will instead occupy a sprawling warehouse in southern Allen County, creating 135 jobs.

According to an application for tax incentives filed with the Allen County Department of Planning, Elkhart-based Lippert Components will invest $10.8 million in the 750,000-square-foot warehouse at 2909 Pleasant Center Road built as a Nestle Distribution Center in 1994. Lippert, which makes components for boats and recreation vehicles, earlier this year said it would create a similar number of jobs by building a $19.17 million, 380,000-square-foot facility on Ryan Road, but those plans never materialized.

In 2015 Lippert completed a $16 million deal to acquire Signature Seating at 6900 Nelson Road in New Haven, and the company in March said those employees would be incorporated into its new facility. In addition to being less costly, the use of an existing building will allow Lippert to expand more quickly, according to Allen County Director of Redevelopment Elissa McGauley. The Pleasant Center building is also much larger than the facility Lippert had planned to build, providing ample room for growth, she added.

The new production and sewing jobs will pay an average of $31,200 per year, with total salaries of about $4.2 million. Construction is expected to start this month, with new equipment being installed through 2019 and full employment the following year.

If County Council approves Lippert’s tax abatement request Thursday, the company would save about $463,500 over 10 years. Lippert, founded in 1998, reported $1.6 billion in sales last year.

Nestle closed its Pleasant Center Road distribution center in 1998, eliminating 100 jobs, but General Mills moved into the warehouse in 2001 and remained there for a decade until building an even larger facility on Bluffton Road.