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Grand Design RV plans 500 jobs in Elkhart County

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 6:48 pm

MIDDLEBURY — A new recreational vehicle manufacturer announced plans Thursday to create 500 jobs in Elkhart County by 2016 in the second major jobs announcement for the industry in northern Indiana in nine days.

Gov. Mike Pence joined executives of Grand Design RV as the company announced plans to locate its headquarters and manufacturing operations in Middlebury, about 30 miles east of South Bend.

"This is a great day for Elkhart County," Pence said.

Three RV industry veterans launched Grand Design late last year and it currently manufactures a fifth-wheel trailer under the Solitude brand with plans to develop and manufacture up to six different product lines of towable fifth-wheel and travel trailers, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. said. The company already employs 115 employees in Middlebury.

Don Clark, president and co-owner of Grand Design, said he and his partners had strong reasons for choosing Middlebury.

"This area has a strong supplier network and an experienced RV workforce. The high level of quality that we are building into our products demands this type of expertise," Clark said in a news release.

The IEDC offered the company up to $2.85 million in performance-based tax credits and up to $200,000 in training grants based on the company's job creation plans.

RV components producer Drew Industries Inc. announced last week it would create up to 800 new jobs in Elkhart County by 2017. The addition of the 1,300 jobs from the two companies marks a welcome contrast from four years ago, when unemployment in the county spiked to 18.9 percent in March 2009 as the industry shed workers amid the recession.

The IEDC said more than 83 percent of all American-made RVs are produced in Indiana.