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$76 million expansion to create 1,000 jobs at Sweetwater Sound

Sweetwater enjoyed another record year in 2019. (News-Sentinel.com file photo)

A $76 million expansion is expected to create about 1,000 jobs at Sweetwater Sound, company officials announced Tuesday.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, Mayor Tom Henry and Allen County commissioners joined officials of Sweetwater, the No. 1 online retailer of music instruments and audio gear in the U.S., as the company announced plans to its 163-acre campus along U.S. 30 just west of town. Sweetwater will construct a new, 350,000-square-foot warehousing facility that will provide product storage as well as gear testing, gear photography, offices, staff amenities, customer pickup and more. Additionally, a new 35,000-square-foot structure will house a conference center with room for up to 1,000 people that will accommodate continuing education sessions for employees. The facility will also be available for members of the community to use for other events.

“This new facility will accommodate the tremendous growth we’ve experienced recently,” Sweetwater founder and President Chuck Surack said in a statement. “Our sales continue to increase each and every year, which means we need more room to be able to serve our customers in the way to which they’re accustomed. We are delighted to be able to continue to expand in Fort Wayne, where it all started.”

Sweetwater plans to break ground on the expansion tomorrow and expects to be operational in the new buildings by summer of 2020. The company, which employs more than 1,300 people at its Fort Wayne headquarters, plans to hire additional distribution, logistics, sales, marketing, merchandising, programming/IT and various other administrative roles. New positions are expected to offer average salaries above both the state and Allen County average wages. Interested applicants may apply online.

“Sweetwater continues to have a significant and positive presence in our community. I applaud and thank Chuck Surack for his commitment to Fort Wayne,” Henry said in a statement.

Sweetwater is a major retailer of music instruments and audio gear, serving musicians, recording studios, broadcast, education, and houses of worship nationwide. This is the company’s third major expansion in recent years, announcing plans in 2012 to invest $23.5 million to add 110,000 square feet at its headquarters and plans in 2015 to invest $8.8 million to add an in-house marketing department and state-of-the-art video studio.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Sweetwater up to $8.8 million in conditional tax credits and up to $200,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. These incentives are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. Northeast Indiana Works will provide the company with additional hiring and training assistance. Fort Wayne City Council and Allen County Council will also consider tax phase-ins for Sweetwater’s eligible real and equipment investments.

Sweetwater reported total sales in 2017 were $619 million, up 22 percent from 2016, which was also a record-breaking year. Sweetwater’s annual total sales increases have ranged from 17.5 percent to 28 percent every year since 2010.

Just last month the company announced it would add 130 jobs at its distribution center.

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