Forest River, a full-line manufacturer of recreational and commercial vehicles, recently announced plans to expand operations to DeKalb Count,y bringing up to 125 new jobs with the opening of its proposed $2.9 million facility by 2019.
Set for construction on a 20-acre site at 685 E. Main St. in Butler, the new facility will include six renovated buildings totaling more than 50,000 sq. ft and a new building spanning nearly 100,000 sq. ft. It is expected to be fully-operational by fall of 2018.
The facility was owned by Dutch Housing and was used for the production of manufactured housing. In the 1990s, the facility had more than 200 people employed. However, when the company stopped production in 2008, the facility became idle.
According to Butler town manager Mark Eagleson, Forest River formally closed on the property in early December and as part of the deal, contractors have been working with the town to restore water service to all of the buildings in the facility.
“We picked Indiana because it is our home and we know the people. Butler, Indiana offers us the ability to access a hard working rural community, where the work force has not been depleted and are ready to do big things,” said Mike Stump, director of public relations at Forest River.
Earlier in January 2017, the Elkhart-based company also announced plans to expand to LaGrange. Forest River invested a total of $6.7 million to purchase and renovate four existing facilities measuring 450,000 sq. ft. over 100 acres. The LaGrange facility follows the company’s expansion in Bristol and Goshen, both of which generated a total of 185 jobs.
“Indiana is a powerhouse when it comes to the RV industry, with more than 80 percent of the world’s RVs being built in the state,” governor Eric J. Holcomb said. “Because of our pro-business climate, companies like Forest River continue to grow and invest in our communities – providing good jobs for Hoosiers.”
Forest River also operates facilities in other parts of Indiana such as Millersburg, Topeka, Middlebury and Wakarusa.